b. 14/12/1983 Solihull, Warwickshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 09/02/2008 Sangin, Afghanistan.
Matthew Croucher (1983-) was born on 14th December 1983 in Solihull, Warwickshire, the son of Richard and Margaret Croucher. He has a younger sister, Claire. Until the age of seven, he attended Primary School in Birmingham, before the family moved to the other side of the city in July 1991. At the age of 13 he joined 2030 Squadron of the Air Training Corps at Sheldon, and excelled at athletics. He soon developed the ambition that he wished to become a Royal Marine Commando.
Matthew’s dream became a reality when in November 2000 he joined the Marines, and began the 30 week training course at Lympstone, Devon. During this training, he received the PT Superior Award for his troop. Following his basic training, he was posted to HQ 3 Commando Brigade, RMB Stonehouse. A few months later he returned to CTCRM to undertake an Anti-Armour Warfare and Heavy Weapons course. He saw active service in Iraq on two tours of duty with 40 Commando D Company in 2003 and 2004-05 before transferring to the Royal Marines Reserve in September 2005. As a member of 40 Commando he served in Afghanistan in the Commando Reconnaissance Force on Operation Herrick VII.
In November 2007, he was injured in a vehicle accident during an operation in Afghanistan, but, after a month of physiotherapy back in the UK, he was able to return to service. On 9th February 2008 in Sangin, Afghanistan, he was part of a 4 man team sent to check a compound suspected of being used by the Taliban. In order to determine conclusively that the compound was an IED manufacturing site, the 4 Marines entered the site, knowing that it was believed to be occupied.
Having seen several items that could be used to make IED's, the order was given to leave. Croucher was at the head of the group, as he moved he felt a wire go tight against his leg, just below knee height. This he knew was a tripwire; he heard the fly-off lever eject and a grenade fell to the ground behind him. Instantly realising what had happened, he shouted "grenade", then "tripwire", in an attempt to warn his comrades but due to the low light he was unable to determine the type of grenade or how long the fuse would take to function. He then threw himself on top of the grenade, pinning it between his day sack and the ground. He lay on the grenade and braced himself for the explosion. As it detonated, the blast was absorbed by his body. The majority of the fragmentation was contained under him but his day sack was ripped from his back and destroyed (now on display at Imperial War Museum); his body armour and helmet were pitted by fragments of grenade. A large battery in the side pouch of the day sack also exploded and was burning like a flare. Amazingly he suffered only a minor injury.
On 24th July 2008, Matthew Croucher was awarded the George Cross for his actions in Sangin. He chose to leave 40 Commando soon afterwards and undertook a Close Protection course which included an in depth medical course which proved very useful in his future career. Matthew remains on the Royal Marine Reserve, and when not serving, he is a Director of a Risk Management/Security business known as Pinnacle Risk Management. At Pinnacle, he is fully involved in providing top class close protection security to high-profile people, venues and events. Matthew’s medals are on loan to the Imperial War Museum, and displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, alongside his day sack which saved his life.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ON LOAN TO IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
Matthew Croucher's George Cross on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London