Bravery award for British soldier Andy Peat, who lay on a bomb to try and save injured Danish colleague
Briton recognised with rare Danish honour for his 'extraordinary' courage in disarming an explosive device threatening Danish soldiers and laying over the path of another
Saturday 24 August 2013
A British soldier who prevented two bomb explosions to try to save an injured Danish comrade in Afghanistan has been honoured by Denmark for his “extraordinary” courage.
Scots explosives expert Andy Peat of 33 EOD Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, is the first non-Danish soldier to receive the prestigious Anders Lassen Award from Crown Prince Frederik.
The soldier risked his life by disarming an improvised explosive device (IED) and physically laying across the path of another, giving his Danish colleagues a chance to escape to safety.
Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Peat, from Edinburgh, was accompanying a Danish patrol in January when the group was blasted by an IED.
The patrol was moving into a compound used for manufacturing IEDs in the country's Upper Gereshk Valley when one of the bombs triggered on the roof, severely injuring Oversergeant Rene Brink Jakobsen.
As he went to his aid, WO1 Peat noticed another IED lying underneath the Danish soldier and worked with precision to disarm the device by locating and cutting its wires.
While colleagues struggled to stretcher the Dane off the 14ft roof, WO1 Peat lay across the path of another device, using himself and his body armour as a shield to protect the rescuers.
WO1 Brink Jakobsen later died of his wounds, leaving behind a wife and three children.
WO1 Peat is credited with saving the lives of several other Danish soldiers and members of the Afghan police that day.
The Anders Lassen Foundation was established in memory of a highly-decorated soldier awarded three Military Crosses posthumously awarded the British Victoria Cross for his exploits in the Second World War.
Each year the Foundation chooses a single recipient for its honour and cash award, and this year selected WO1 Peat for his "extraordinary courage and determined actions".
At a ceremony at Copenhagen's Royal Danish Military College, he received the framed award and donated the 25,000 Krone (roughly £3,000) to his late colleague's wife, Camilla Brink Jakobsen, and children, Sara, Maja and Thor.
"I was slightly taken aback when I had the phone call to say I'd been awarded it - it's slightly surreal. Meeting the Crown Prince has been a great experience," he said of receiving the honour.
The serviceman paid tribute to his own wife following the ceremony and said of his attempt to save WO1 Jakobsen that "all the guys would have done the same thing".
"To bring my wife and daughter along has been fantastic. I knew when my wife heard about what I'd done I'd be mostly in trouble," he said.
He continued, "She deserves the rewards as she has to stay up at home at night worrying all the time.
"I'd probably say that wives and girlfriends have the worst jobs because they always think we're doing stuff when sometimes we're just sitting around drinking coffee.
"To be honest, it's just about doing your job and thinking about what you've got in front of you and trying your best to get out of that predicament as quickly as possible.
"If you take any IED operator and put him in front of the same predicament, all the guys would have done exactly the same thing."
Mrs Brink Jakobsen said: "I was quite overwhelmed that he wanted to give the money to our family.
"I really appreciate what he did in Afghanistan and I'm very grateful that he would think of us in this way.
"We talked a little bit about what happened, with Rene's Danish colleagues too, and with Andy, and I was a little prepared about who I was going to meet today, but it is overwhelming. It's been very emotional.
"Rene was a guy who spread joy everywhere he went and he wanted everyone to be comfortable. He was a very good soldier and good at his work."
Lieutenant Colonel Claus Wannen, head of the Danish Special Forces, said: "The Foundation grants people who have made an extraordinary effort and we're very picky about who we want to actually have the award.
"Warrant Officer One Andy Peat made an extraordinary contribution. On that tragic day he proved his worth and it's most likely he saved a number of lives that evening.
"It wasn't until the day after that I heard the full story that WO1 Peat's name was mentioned with regards to selfless service.
"He's just as I imagined he would be - a relaxed, nice person, pretty much like one of my own guys.
"It does not strike me as a surprise that he was the one making a difference on the roof that night."
WO1 Peat, along with the Danish colleagues he served with in Afghanistan, laid a wreath for WO1 Brink Jakobsen in a public area where other fallen Danish soldiers are remembered.
A British Army spokesperson said:
“Warrant Officer Peat showed outstanding courage and technical expertise. We are delighted that his bravery has been recognised.”
Additional reporting by PA
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