The son of a Conservative MP has told how he helped save a fellow British volunteer fighter in Ukraine while under heavy Russian gunfire after he was injured by a landmine.
Ben Grant arrived in Ukraine in March, when he told the Guardian he was moved to volunteer after seeing footage of a Russian bombing of a house where a child could be heard screaming. He said he went without telling his mother, MP Helen Grant, he was going.
Dramatic video footage, published by the Telegraph, follows the 30-year-old, who is a veteran of Afghanistan and a former Royal Marine, screaming: “We’ve got to move now or we’re gonna die!”
Meanwhile, he and others dragged former grenadier guard Dean Arthur to safety after a Russian ambush in a woodland north of Kharkiv earlier this month.
He told the newspaper of his terror, saying: “I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”
He said he believes they were spotted by drones beforehand and the Russians had set up their lines so that when they went in, a “mass firefight broke out”.
He added: “I was terrified but driven to complete my most important goal, which at the time was getting him and my team out of the danger.
“What was so scary was being so limited by trying to carry someone, when I can’t pull my weapon up, while there are attack helicopters overhead and tanks firing through the woods. It was unreal – I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”
He said his unit of 15 British and American volunteers and two Ukrainian translators had been preparing an assault on a Russian-held target earlier this month.
The video footage, shot with a helmet-mounted camera, shows them attempting to treat Arthur’s leg with a tourniquet and dressing. They are heard telling him: “You’ve got to try to walk or we’re going to die, mate.”
Arthur lost part of his lower left calf after kneeling on the mine but is now in hospital in Kyiv where doctors saved his leg.
The group were reportedly part of a Ukrainian counter-offensive to push Russian troops out of Kharkiv. In places, they pushed them to the Russian border.
Arthur, 42, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said he was in “excruciating pain”, adding that he was lucky to have escaped alive.
“This type of camaraderie is only forged in these situations. If the coin was flipped, it was one of those guys, I would have got them out,” he said.
The government has advised all British people not to travel to Ukraine, while Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, has warned British soldiers they could be prosecuted for desertion if they go to Ukraine to fight.
The Guardian has contacted Helen Grant and the Foreign Office for comment.