Johnson Beharry

Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry was awarded the Victoria Cross in 2005 – the first living recipient of the highest award for valour for nearly forty years.  The citation says the medal was given “For his actions on 1 May and 11 June 2004 in saving the lives of his Warrior crew by dogged and determined perseverence when injured and under sustained enemy attack“. 

In Barefoot Soldier he tells his story. 

It begins a long way from valour – in Grenada as the part-Indian, part Negro son-of-an-alcoholic.  A hugely influential grandmother raises him to know that “love, respect, honesty” are the three most important things in life.  Holding those values dear, he strives to overcome huge disadvantage, driven out by his family and driven on by his love of motors, anger, and a unsatisfied desire to gain the acceptance of his father.  Along the way he is helped and hindered by his extended family and Clarke’s Court rum.  First experiences driving a mash-up rubbish cart leads eventually to being an infantryman in the British Army, driving a twenty five tonne Warrior, Whisky Two Zero, in Iraq.

His story is very humbling and very very moving. 

But it is also incomplete.  This interview in the Telegraph in 2006 fills in some of the gaps and explains why his wife is called Lynthia but the book is dedicated to Tamara (“You know how much you mean to me”) …  He pays a high price for the injuries he sustained from a rocket propelled grenade.

More about the Victoria Cross

Can you improve on “love, respect, honesty”?