By Matt Croucher
In an out-of-control, dangerous country torn apart by war, littered with Taliban guerrilla forces and thousands of miles from home, Lance Corporal Matt Croucher, a Royal Marine with 40 Commando, accidentally activates a grenade whilst on a covert patrol behind enemy lines. With only a split second to react, Croucher's instincts kick in and he throws himself beside the grenade, reasoning that saving the lives of his three comrades was worth the likelihood of losing his own.
Miraculously, and against all the odds, Croucher survived, and mere hours later was taking part in a gun battle against local insurgent fighters, demonstrating a raw, unique courage and devotion to military duty that would later see him awarded the George Cross - a distinction bestowed only on those who perform acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.
Croucher's George Cross would make him famous around the world. But his story is much more than just one heroic act in isolation. His is a life of bullets, blood and loyalty, and of lives saved and lives taken.
From a young marine aged 19, when he was one of the first 200 Allied soldiers to invade Iraq back in 2003 as part of an elite force of British Marines and US Special Forces, through to his second tour of duty in 2004, when he suffered a fractured skull following a roadside bomb attack, only to return to action just a week later, and then being thrust into hellish Afghanistan, Croucher has seen vicious fighting, intense gun battles, roadside ambushes, and witnessed the death and injury of close colleagues on an almost daily basis.
This is his incredible story: a searing, vivid, non-stop account of one man's heroism and courage under fire, in the most gruelling combat environment since the Second World War.