Afghan hero to auction off Military Cross

A HEROIC soldier who became the most junior serviceman ever to win the Military Cross is to put his medal up for sale.

Liam Armstrong, a Royal Marine serving with Arbroath-based 45 Commando, made history more than three years ago when he was presented with the Military Cross, one of Britain's highest awards for gallantry, aged just 23.

The commando was decorated by the Queen in July 2003, at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace for his outstanding bravery. He had captured nine terrorists and a cache of mortar bombs, rockets and bullets in a raid on a suspected al-Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan. The young Marine broke into the terrorist compound, near the Pakistan border, and took the men prisoner without firing a single shot.

But it was revealed yesterday that Mr Armstrong, now working as a tracklayer for a railway company, has decided to put his award for bravery up for sale to help guarantee a financial future for his long-term partner, Charlene, and two-year-old daughter, Lydia.

His Military Cross, expected to fetch up to 30,000, is one of a number of medals which are going under the hammer at a sale of militaria in London on 15 December.

Mr Armstrong, now 27 and living in Carlisle, left the Royal Marines in October 2005.

He said: "I just want to make sure that my daughter has got everything she needs. I'm not a rich man and the sale will ensure our future as a family. Whatever I need to do to achieve that, I'll do it."

Mr Armstrong joined the Royal Marines in 1999, and served with 42 Commando in UN operations in Sierra Leone before transferring to Zulu Company of 45 Commando in 2001.

It was while serving with Zulu company as a heavy machine-gunner in Afghanistan in June 2002 that he earned the Military Cross.

His actions during a commando raid on a suspected terrorist compound were described in his citation as showing "great bravery, initiative and leadership beyond that expected from such a junior rank".

The citation stated: "Marine Armstrong decided to seize the moment... He succeeded in getting the men to surrender, relieved them of their weapons, and kept them as prisoners until the rest of the team could assist - all without a shot being fired."

When he received the Military Cross , Mr Armstrong insisted he had simply been "helping my mates".

Chris Proudlove, a spokesman for auctioneers for Morton and Eden, said Mr Armstrong's medal was expected to fetch between 25,000 and 30,000.

He said it was "fairly unusual" for a servicemen to sell a medal of such stature so soon after receiving the award.

But he explained: "Quite simply, he wants to try to secure the future for his family."

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