Gallantry Cross for brave Gurkha

A Gurkha soldier who single-handedly fought off an attack on his base by up to 30 Taliban insurgents has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, 31, exhausted all his ammunition and at one point had to use the tripod of his machine gun to beat away a militant climbing the walls of the compound.

The soldier fired more than 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to thwart the Taliban assault on his checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.

He spoke of his pride at receiving the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, which is only one level down from the Victoria Cross.

"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor. Now I am getting this award it is very great and I am very happy," he said.

In total, Acting Sgt Pun fired off 250 general purpose machine gun rounds, 180 SA80 rounds, six phosphorous grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds and one Claymore mine. The only weapon he did not use was the traditional Kukri knife carried by Gurkhas because he did not have his with him at the time.

The married soldier, whose father and grandfather were also both Gurkhas, is originally from the village of Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Ashford, Kent.

His medal citation said he saved the lives of three comrades also at the checkpoint at that time and prevented the position from being overrun.

It read: "Pun could never know how many enemies were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack."

A total of 136 servicemen and women - most of whom served with 4 Mechanized Brigade in Afghanistan between April and October last year - have been awarded honours, four posthumously.