Heroic soldier forced to deny claims he did not earn his gallantry medal, ahead of auction to raise funds for his mother

A soldier recognised for his heroic actions in Afghanistan has had to deny claims he

A soldier recognised for his heroic actions in Afghanistan has had to deny claims he did not ‘earn’ his gallantry award, days before his medals are auctioned.

Deacon Cutterham was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for throwing away a Taliban grenade that landed near his patrol in 2011.

His collection of seven medals are expected to fetch around £120,000 at auction on Thursday.

However, the former Serjeant of 1st Battalion, The Rifles, has been forced to deny suggestions he fabricated his actions on the day in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

One former colleague told the BBC: “I don’t believe he earned that medal and now he might make money from it.”

Another soldier said: “We didn’t care if he wanted to tell people how brave he was. What we care about now is him making financial gain from this.”

Mr Cutterham denies all claims. 

Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph Mr Cutterham, 37, from Bristol, said he was selling his medals to help his mother in her retirement.

Of his anonymous critics he said: “I’m really sorry that some people feel that way. 

“The action happened as per the citation and I stand by those events. I didn’t write the citation, the commanders did. 

“You don’t get awarded the second highest medal for bravery without it going through the mill.”

Speaking in 2012, Mr Cutterham described the actions of that day. 

He said he did not throw the grenade as it could have exploded in the air, sending shrapnel in all directions. Instead he “posted” it into a ditch, a much more deliberate act akin to forcefully placing the grenade in a specific area.

His decision would have meant he had deliberately held onto the grenade for longer than absolutely necessary in a bid to get in in a safe place. 

Mr Cutterham said: “Grenade came over the top. With that I shouted ‘grenade’ and then advanced on it, picked the grenade up and and then posted it, and it literally went off as soon as I pulled my hand away – and prevented me and my lead scout from getting serious injuries or death.”

He said the grenade, which had been thrown over a wall, had landed in a water-filled ditch.

“I had seen exactly where it had landed but couldn’t see it in the stream.

“I quickly placed my hand in the water to search for it and placed my hand directly on the grenade, shouted to take cover and posted it.”

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross is an operational award given to all ranks of the services in recognition of one or more  acts of outstanding bravery during active operations against the enemy.

The citation on Mr Cutterham’s award reads: “The action itself was utterly courageous, carried out with composure and clarity of thought.

“Cutterham’s gritty leadership and gallant act saved lives and inspired his men.”

Mr Cutterham joined the Army at 16 and served in Iraq and Afghanistan during a 19-year military career.

He was evacuated from Afghanistan having fallen through a roof some weeks after the grenade incident. He suffered a head injury and woke up two days later in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.  

He said the medal’s controversy had “hit him hard”.

“I didn’t think putting these medals up would get such negative feedback, but it is what it is,” he said.

An MoD Spokesperson said: “Our service personnel display exceptional gallantry and courage while performing duties at home and abroad.  Acts of courage that warrant an honour or award are rigorously scrutinised before being approved.

“If serving personnel have a grievance, there is a formal process for them to register their complaint through their Chain of Command, which would be looked into accordingly.”

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