Bravery and leadership celebrated in honours list

The latest Operational Honours and Awards list is announced today and recognises gallantry in Afghanistan, peacekeeping duties in South Sudan and some of the first deployments to Operation CABRIT in the Baltic region of Eastern Europe.

Soldiers and officers have been cited for saving lives, showing outstanding leadership and exceptional skill, and going ‘above and beyond’ whilst on operational duty.

Courage and professional excellence

Receiving a Mention in Despatches for saving lives in Afghanistan following a suicide bomb near the German Embassy in Kabul, Sergeant Andrew Mather, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was a Multiple Commander during his deployment in 2017. Andrew coordinated the initial response at the scene, directing the stretcher party and administering first aid to the injured, all under an imminent threat of a subsequent attack.

His citation states: “Amongst all this devastation and complexity, Mather led his small team to overcome all challenges through clarity of thought and decisive action, saving at least one life and preventing the deterioration of others. For this display of courage and professional excellence in the most demanding circumstances, Mather is highly recommended for formal recognition.”

Heart and soul

This is the first time personnel deployed on Op CABRIT, the UK’s contribution to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe, have been recognised in the Operational Honours and Awards List.

One of several to be honoured with a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service is Major Fiona Dangerfield, RLC, Deputy Chief of Staff in Estonia, who was part of the founding command team during the establishment of, Op CABRIT.

It was her job to oversee the development of new barracks and co-ordinate the arrival of a multinational armoured battlegroup to Estonia by sea and rail. She grappled with the complexities of host nation contracts for materiel and real life support, and hosted a relentless series of recces and visits as well as handling multiple issues across different locations.

Her citation states: “Dangerfield put her heart and soul into this new operation and in doing so single-handedly built the logistics network and relationships that will continue to serve us well beyond her departure. A rare contribution deserving of national recognition.”

Exceptional leadership

Lt Col Jason Ainley, Corps of Royal Engineers, is to be honoured with an OBE for his service in South Sudan. As Commander of 400 British troops in South Sudan, the largest UK deployment in support of the United Nations in more than 20 years, Lt Col Ainley faced the challenge of establishing the force in the face of significant political, logistic and environmental obstacles.

His citation says: “Working tirelessly under his leadership, Ainley’s team built both of their UN camps, and established a Role 2 Hospital, ahead of time and against all expectations. The positive visit reports are a credit to the force and to Ainley’s exceptional leadership, resulting in a successive deployment for this, he is deserving of national recognition.”

Operational Honours and Awards List 49 has been published today in the London Gazette and features 17 members of the British Army out of a total of 45 across the Armed Forces.