Hampshire Para Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey Josh Leakey has been awarded the highest military honour for his courage in single-handedly preventing "considerable loss of life" in Afghanistan.

The 27-year-old is only the 15th serviceman - but the second member of his family- to receive the VC since the Second World War.

He is also the third serviceman to receive the VC for service in Afghanistan and the only one not to receive it posthumously.

Lance Corporal Leakey will receive his medal for the role he played during a combined UK/US assault on a Taliban stronghold in August 2013.

The Command Group were pinned down on the exposed forward slope of a hill. After an hour of fighting, a Marine Corps Captain was shot and wounded and their communications put out of action, according to the MOD.

“On this day, things just felt different,” Lance Corporal Leakey said. “The enemy were more determined, even when air support was around, they stood and they fought, which was fairly uncommon. And, thoughts going through my mind on that day were, let’s do this right. There’s a man wounded, we need to get this guy sorted, and also stop more people getting wounded.”

Lance Corporal Leakey, "realising the seriousness of the situation and with complete disregard for his own safety", dashed across an exposed hillside being raked with machine gun fire.

When he reached the top of the hill he saw that twenty insurgents had surrounded two friendly machine gun teams , meaning they could not help with covering fire.

Lance Corporal Leakey went down the hill to give first aid to the wounded officer and "despite being the most junior commander in the area,  took control of the situation and initiated the casualty evacuation."

Then he went back up the hill to get one of the machine guns back into action. When he got there bullets were hitting the frame of the gun - so he moved it to another position and began to return fire.

“Everyone was under fire,” he said. “it wasn’t just me. But, we needed to be the ones giving effective enemy fire, instead of the ones on the receiving end. That’s why the guns had to be re-sited and realigned onto the enemy.

“We had to take the fight to the enemy because they were dominating the area and our freedom of movement was being denied. We needed to swing the tide back in our favour, which, when we came around, that’s what happened.”

Lance Corporal Leakey's citation states: “This courageous action spurred those around him back into the fight. For the third time and with full knowledge of the dangers, Lance Corporal Leakey exposed himself to enemy fire once more. Weighted down with more than 60lbs of equipment, he ran to the bottom of the hill, picked up the second machine gun and climbed back up the hill, around 200 metres of steep terrain.

“Rounds were hitting the ground around him. But, despite the danger, Josh re-sited the gun and returned fire. This was the turning point as, inspired by his actions, and with a heavy weight of fire now at their disposal, the force began to fight back with renewed ferocity.”

Having regained the initiative, the solider handed over the machine gun and led the extraction of the wounded officer to a point from which he could be safely evacuated.

“My goals on that day were very simple, as were everyone’s on that day,” he said. “When it became clear there was a casualty, our mission changed slightly so we had to deal with the casualty and we had to suppress the enemy.

“I like to think we did a pretty good job of looking after the casualty and of suppressing the enemy.”

The citation adds: “Displaying gritty leadership well above that expected of his rank, Lance Corporal Leakey’s actions single-handedly regained the initiative and prevented considerable loss of life, allowing a wounded US Marine officer to be evacuated. For this act of valour, Lance Corporal Leakey is highly deserving of significant national recognition.”

Lance Corporal Leakey, who joined 1 Para in 2007, said that he was “deeply honoured” but insisted that the award was for everyone in his regiment and battalion.

He said: “I’m still stunned, absolutely stunned really, that they’ve given it to me. It’s going to take a while for it to sink in.

“If it was up to me there’d be many other people sitting here with me doing this as well. There are so many people out there deserving, from my battalion, my regiment, from Afghan; there are so many of us who’ve done things. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, really.

“You don’t do anything in the Army on your own. It’s not normal being singled out; you feel uncomfortable, because everything you do is team effort really, in my opinion. And that day was no different.

“You don't really think what could happen to yourself, you think 'how is what I'm doing now going to improve the situation?'

“It's part of the very nature of being in the Army, and especially the Parachute Regiment, that we have to adapt to situations you don't expect to happen.

“I'm lucky - I'm here, I've got all my limbs, my health, I've got my friends and my family.

“In my mind the biggest fear is letting the side down, letting your regiment down and not doing your cap badge proud.”

His second cousin twice removed Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey was awarded the VC in November 1945 after fighting in Africa with the King's African Rifles during the Second World War.

He was awarded it posthumously for ''magnificent fighting spirit facing almost certain death'' during a battle against Italian opposition at Kolito in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) on May 19 1941.

The confusion and loss of armour that Sgt Leakey caused was described as ''critical'' to the Italian defeat in the battle.

Although the Kenyan soldier has no known grave, he is commemorated on the East Africa Memorial, near Nairobi.

The VC was first introduced in January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War.

It has now been awarded 1,363 times, according to the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.

Lance Corporal Leakey will receive his medal at a later date during an investiture ceremony.

He is the first British serviceman to receive the honour while still alive since Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry, of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was decorated in 2005 for saving the lives of comrades during two ambushes in Iraq.