Bomb disposal captain awarded George Cross

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An Army bomb disposal expert from Gloucester, maimed as he investigated a bomb blast which killed four US soldiers in Iraq, was awarded the George Cross today.

Captain Peter Norton, 43, lost part of an arm and a leg in a secondary explosion in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad on July 24 last year.

Capt Norton, of the Royal Logistics Corps, becomes only the 22nd British armed forces member to receive the award since 1945.

Just after 7.15pm, a three-vehicle US patrol was rocked by a huge blast, destroying a Humvee patrol vehicle and killing four US personnel.

Capt Norton, a married father of two who lives at RAF Innsworth, led a team immediately sent to the scene of carnage.

His citation said he quickly took charge amid the confusion and ensured the safety of all the coalition forces present.

He was briefed that a possible command wire linked to further explosives had been seen in the area.

The citation read: "With a complete understanding of the potential hazard to himself and knowing that the insurgents had used secondary devices before in the particularly dangerous part of Iraq, Capt Norton instructed his team and the US forces present in the area to remain with their vehicle while he alone went forward to confirm whether a command wire was present."

A short while later, an explosion catapulted Capt Norton, causing extensive injuries to his legs, arms and lower abdomen.

As he lay seriously injured, he remained lucid, conscious and concerned for the safety of his team as they came to his help, but before he allowed them to render first aid, he instructed them on which areas were safe and where they could move.

The citation added: "Despite having sustained grievous injuries he remained in command and coolly directed the follow-up actions.

"It is typical of the man that he ignored his injuries and regarded the safety of his men as paramount as they administered life-saving first aid to him."

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