Private Johnson Gideon Beharry VC, b.1979

Johnson Beharry was born in Grenada on 27th July 1979, entering the UK at the age of 20 in 1999 and working as a builder until he enlisting in the British Army’s Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR) in August 2001.  Beharry married his childhood sweetheart Lynthia, also from Grenada, in 2002. His parents and brothers and sisters still live in Grenada.

Private J G Beharry was the first person to be awarded the Victoria Cross (the UK highest military award for Gallantry) since 1982 and the first living recipient since 1965. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for two acts of outstanding bravery whilst serving with the 1st Battalion PWRR in Maysan Province, Iraq, in 2004.

The first incident took place on 1st May 2004 while Pte Beharry was driving his Platoon Commander’s Warrior 30 tonne armoured fighting vehicle. The vehicle was responding to a request for help from a foot patrol that had been ambushed and was under fire from heavy machine guns, small arms and grenades. As they approached the street was empty of civilians and the platoon commander halted the vehicle suspecting an ambush. As he did so the armoured vehicle was hit multiple times by rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) resulting in injures to the commander, and vehicle gunner as well as several of the soldiers travelling in the back of the Warrior vehicle. The communications system was also destroyed so there was no way to contact the rest of the platoon. Pte Beharry was not deterred and drove the damaged vehicle away from the ambush even after it got hit again and caught fire including a hit removing his driver’s hatch and leaving him exposed to incoming fire, resulting in a hit by a 7.62mm bullet which lodged in his helmet. When he reached an outpost he returned to the burning vehicle to take his wounded colleagues out of the vehicle while still under fire finally he returned to the vehicle once more to drive it away from the enemy to avoid capture and then finally turned the engine off and collapsed from his efforts. His citation reads for “valour of the highest order”

A little over a month later on 11th June 2004 Private Beharry was driving the command Warrior vehicle of his platoon when it came under ambush from roof top insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenades, the vehicle received multiple hits. Beharry was injured in the head, his commander was incapacitated and several others on board were injured. Despite his serious head injury and blood running into his eyes Beharry drove the vehicle out of the ambush area before falling unconscious. This allowed the troops inside to be rescued with minimum risk. He was evacuated to the Royal College of Defence Medicine (RCDM) in Selly Oak Birmingham where he underwent neurosurgical reconstructive surgery. To quote from his full citation

"Beharry displayed repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action."

Barefoot Soldier, Johnson Beharry and Nick Cook. A gripping tale of a modern VC winner detailing his early life growing up in Grenada and then his army career and finally the two events which won him the Victoria Cross.  It is not always articulately written but this is an ordinary soldier not an academic or reporter and is more ‘real’ in some ways for that. An inspiring read.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (23 October 2008), Private Johnson Gideon Beharry VC, b.1979 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_beharry_johnson.html

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