Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield bomb expert Karl Ley receives George Medal

Warrant Officer Karl Ley
Image caption Warrant Officer Karl Ley received the George Medal from Prince Charles

A Sheffield soldier who cleared more roadside bombs than anyone else in history has received the George Medal at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Warrant Officer Karl Ley, 29, made safe 139 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by the Taliban during a tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

The number is more than twice as many as any other bomb disposal expert.

WO Ley received the medal for his "sheer determination, guile and awesome bravery" from Prince Charles.

On one operation WO Ley, a married father-of-three, defused 42 IEDs within 72 hours, and at times he had to clear bombs with insurgent mortars and gunshots landing as little as 30m (100ft) away from him.

'Unwavering dedication'

His citation stated: "Ley has worked tirelessly in the most hazardous of conditions, enduring both mental and physical fatigue.

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Media captionSgt Maj Karl Ley has defused more bombs than anyone else in history - footage courtesy of BCA

"He has sadly lost seven of his colleagues, including three close friends, within the Counter-IED Task Force but he has continued undaunted.

"For this unwavering dedication, conspicuous gallantry and poise in the face of substantial danger and of the enemy, over a sustained period, he is unreservedly recommended for high public recognition."

Reflecting on the high number of IEDs he has disarmed, WO Ley said: "I think if Staff Sergeant Schmid, a good mate of mine, had remained alive he'd have gone way past the mark that I did, but unfortunately he died half way through his tour.

"To say I've done more, it's nice but it's not particularly important in the great scheme of things.

"We get rid of the bombs that are put in front of us to be fair."

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