Captain Peter Norton, an Ammunition Technical Officer, has been awarded the George Cross for an act of 'the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger' in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad, Iraq.


Captain Norton (RLC)

His citation reads:

"Captain Norton was the second-in-command of the US Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC) based in the outskirts of Baghdad. The unit has been in the forefront of counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) operations and is plays a vital role in the collection and analysis of weapons intelligence.

"At 1917 hours on 24 July 2005, a three vehicle patrol from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Regiment of the Georgia National Guard was attacked by a massive command initiated IED in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad. The ensuing explosion resulted in the complete destruction of a 'Humvee' patrol vehicle and the deaths of four US personnel. Due to the significance of the attack, a team from CEXC, commanded by Captain Norton, was tasked immediately to the scene. On arrival, Captain Norton was faced with a scene of carnage and the inevitable confusion which is present in the aftermath of such an incident. He quickly took charge and ensured the safety of all the coalition forces present. A short while later he was briefed that a possible command wire had been spotted in the vicinity of the explosion site. With a complete understanding of the potential hazard to himself and knowing that the insurgents had used secondary devices before in the particularly dangerous part of Iraq, Captain Norton instructed his team and the US forces present in the area to remain with their vehicle while he alone went forward to confirm whether a command wire IED was present.

"A short while later, an explosion occurred and Captain Norton sustained a traumatic amputation of his left leg and suffered serious blast and fragmentation injuries to his right leg, arms and lower abdomen. When his team came forward to render first aid, he was conscious, lucid and most concerned regarding their safety. He had correctly deduced that he had stepped on a victim operated IED and there was a high probability that further devices were present. Before allowing them to render first aid, he instructed his team on which areas were safe and where they could move. Despite having sustained grievous injuries he remained in command and coolly directed the follow-up actions. It is typical of the man that he ignored his injuries and regarded the safety of his men a paramount as they administered life saving first aid to him. It is of note that a further device was found less than ten metres away and rendered safe the following day. Captain Norton's prescience and clear orders in the most difficult circumstances undoubtedly prevented further serious injury or loss of life.

"Captain Norton has deployed to numerous other incidents during his time in Iraq, three of which a warrant mention. On 30 April 2005 he was investigating the scene of a suicide vehicle borne IED when his team was attached by two rocket propelled grenades. Despite the attack he still managed to conduct the necessary post-blast analysis. On 9 May 2005, whilst exploiting a supposedly neutralised suicide vest IED, which was packet with a combination of high explosives and ball-bearings, Captain Norton discovered that the detonators were still connected. He immediately, and without thought for his own safety, made the device safe by hand. Furthermore on 23 June 2005, whilst investigating the scene of an IED, Captain Norton discovered, concealed in the roadside, a secondary claymore mine. His quick and instinctive thinking ensured the area was rapidly evacuated and allowed a US Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team to clear the device, thereby saving further loss of life. Captain Norton has come under fire and has been exposed to significant danger on a number of occasions. He has consistently behaved in an exemplary fashion and his professionalism has been of the highest order. Captain Norton's outstanding bravery at the incident in Al Bayaa and throughout his tour fully justifies formal recognition."

Captain Peter Norton grew-up in Margate (Kent) where he was educated at the Dane Court Technical High School. In 1983, aged 20, he joined the Army. After completing his basic training at Deepcut he trained as an Ammunition Technical Officer at Kineton. His first posting was to Pombsen in Germany. He has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and on loan service with Oman. He reached the rank of Warrant Officer 1 Conductor*, the highest non-commissioned rank in the British Army before he was commissioned in 2002.

Captain Norton has a place at Cranfield University to study for an MSc in Explosive Ordinance Engineering and will take-up his place when he is fit.

Peter is married to Sue and they have two children Thomas aged 3 and Toby aged 1.

* The first known mention of Conductors is in the 1327 Statute of Westminster, when they are mentioned as the men whose job it was to conduct soldiers to places of assembly. On 11 January 1879 a Royal warrant established Conductors of Supplies as Warrant Officers, ranking above all non-commissioned officers. It is a great honor to be appointed and prospective Conductors must have held the rank of WO1 for at least three years.