A female Army medic is to receive a top medal for bravery after she rescued seven injured comrades under enemy fire – with a piece of shrapnel lodged in her back.
Lance Corporal Sally Clarke, 22, is to get the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for heroism displayed on the frontline with 2nd Battalion The Rifles last year.
LCpl Clarke was severely injured while on foot patrol when her unit came under heavy fire from insurgents who pinned them down with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).
Shrapnel from one of the exploding grenades sliced into LCpl Clarke’s shoulder blade, but refused to be evacuated by helicopter and continued to treat wounded comrades under open fire.
LCpl Clarke, who was on the frontline for seven months, said: ”I am happy but surprised to get the commendation because everyone out there did a good job.
”I hope I am not posted out there again because it’s very scary risking your life.”
LCpl Clarke, from Cheltenham, Glos., was on foot patrol south of Sangin in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when they came across an old Russian-style anti-tank mine.
Opportunistic Taliban insurgents began firing RPGs over a nearby wall into the middle of the patrol.
One grenade bounced off a soldier’s rucksack and exploded in the middle of the group leaving eight soldiers, including LCpl Clarke, wounded.
LCpl Clarke had shrapnel embedded in her shoulder and lower back, but despite her own injuries she sprung into action, treating the rest of her patrol single-handedly.
en of her patrol had been injured in the blasts, the most seriously with massive shrapnel wounds to his upper legs and buttocks.
Overcoming intense pain, LCpl Clarke sprang into action, treating the rest of her patrol single-handedly until a helicopter evacuated the injured to hospital at Camp Bastion.
LCpl Clarke, who refused to be evacuated with the injured, added: ”I didn’t feel like my injuries were bad enough to go back to the hospital, particularly as I was the only medic on the ground at the time.
”I couldn’t leave them on their own – I came out here to support the troops on the ground and give them medical care when they needed it the most.”
LCpl Clarke will receive a laurel leaf insignia to go with her Afghan medal when she return to base in Germany.
Her parents Rosemary and Chris Clarke said they were ”hugely proud” of their daughter, even though they could not help but worry about her.
Mrs Clarke said: ”The commendation is deserved. It is Sally’s decision in life and we always made her feel that we are there for her.”