On June 11th 2006, having only recently completed Initial Trade Training, Private Michelle Norris was thrust into action, aged just 18, putting her own life at risk to save a badly wounded comrade during the largest and most intense battle in Iraq since 2004.
Then a Private, deployed as a Combat Medical Technician (CMT) with The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, Sgt Norris was part of a search operation in Al Amarah which turned into a full-scale firefight when her Company Group came under sustained attack by more than 200 insurgents.
During the heaviest of the fighting, Colour Sergeant Ian Page, the Company Commander of the Warrior tank carrying Michelle, was shot in the face.
Without a second thought for her safety, despite it being the first time she was faced with a battlefield casualty, she jumped out of the vehicle and climbed on the top of it to give life-saving first aid.
Private Norris’s actions on 11 June were extremely courageous and outstandingly brave Sgt Michelle Norris's MC citation
Seeing her on the top of the Warrior, a sniper opened fire aiming a further three rounds at her, one hitting the radio mounted on the side of the turret inches from her leg. Michelle ignored the incoming bullets and continued to administer first aid through the Commander’s hatch until the gunner pulled her into the turret for her own safety.
Her citation stated: “Despite the very real risks from sniper fire, heavy small arms fire and rocket propelled grenade, she deliberately ignored the danger to her own life in order to administer life-saving first aid to the Commander of the vehicle.
“Private Norris’s actions on 11 June were extremely courageous and outstandingly brave and have rightly earned her the Military Cross for actions to save the life of a comrade when under fire.”
Michelle, now a Sergeant with 22 Field Hospital, was awarded her medal personally by Queen Elizabeth II on 21 March 2007 for her gallantry while attached to The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.
At the anniversary event on Friday, Major General Sharon Nesmith, GOC Army Recruitment & Initial Training Command, said: “It is humbling to meet Sgt Norris, 15 years on from the day when her bravery and selfless actions saved the life of Colour Sergeant Ian Page. As the first female recipient of the MC, Sgt Norris deserves a special place in history and is a true inspiration.”
In attendance at the 15th anniversary presentation at HQ Home Command were Colonel Royal Army Medical Corps, Major General Paul Cain and Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Medical Field Army, Colonel Victoria Moorhouse, attending in her capacity as the head of the Combat Medical Technician cadre.