Brian Wood with his wife and childhood sweetheart Lucy
But he added: “It’s too late to stop the damage caused to the lives of hundreds of soldiers. We were fed to the wolves.”
Brian Wood was just 22 when, in 2004, he led the first bayonet charge since the Falklands conflict after his unit was ambushed.
The lance corporal with the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry for his actions in the face of overwhelming enemy fire.
- Our troops cannot sleep easy just yet, says Frederick Forsyth
- Inquiry into alleged abuses in Iraq by Army heroes SCRAPPED
I feel betrayal by a government that didn’t stop this right away
Five years later the father of two was informed that he was being investigated for murder as part of a raft of complaints brought forward by disgraced tank-chasing solicitor Phil Shiner.
He has now been struck off and on Friday Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the controversial Iraq Historic Allegations Team inquiry would be axed.
Yet Brian, now 36, said: “Of course I’m happy Phil Shiner has been exposed for what he is and I’m grateful that Ihat is over.
“But it’s too late for so many of us. I feel betrayal by a government that didn’t stop this right away.
Brian Wood was just 22 when he led his first bayonet charge
“It’s one thing to investigate a serious crime with real evidence. It’s another to drag us through 12 years of pain, in full public glare, for no real reason. It ruined lives.
“Many of my friends haven’t recovered. Scrapping Ihat now can’t take away the damage done to me or them. It should never have happened.”
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
He added: “They accused me and my comrades of some of the most serious allegations you can imagine, from unlawful killing to mutilation and mistreatment of prisoners of war. Of course there was no evidence. How could there be? It was untrue.
“If it had been a proper investigation we would have been cleared in days. It took five years before I could clear my name – 10 years after the battle. I almost lost my marriage and I lost faith in the military I loved so much.”
Iraq pull-out Thu, April 30, 2009 1 of 42
Members of 15 Squadron RAF Regiment on one of the last patrols during combat operations by the British in Basra
On May 14, 2004, his unit was sent to extract a team of Argyll and Sutherlanders who had come under fire by grenade-throwing militia.
Their Warrior armoured vehicles were surrounded on three sides by 100 militia men. The order came to dismount and L/Cpl Wood led a bayonet charge across flat ground.
“I led the bayonet assault on the main militia position. Honestly, I’m amazed I’m alive to speak about it today. It was against all odds that we survived.”
After five long hours, the battle of Danny Boy – named after a nearby checkpoint – was finally over, and the soldiers got orders to take nine prisoners and the bodies of 20 militia to their base at Camp Abu Naji.
In 2009 he received a latter informing him he was to be investigated
In 2009 he received a letter informing him he was to be investigated as part of the £20million Al-Sweady inquiry.
He said: “They were suggesting that we took them all back alive, and executed them.
“Taking a life, even an enemy life, is damaging. It lives with you for ever. Taking many lives on that day had a profound effect on me. Some of them were as young as 17. Having to go back and retrieve their bodies was traumatic.
“For Phil Shiner to then raise these allegations ripped the guts out of me.
The pressure almost ended his marriage
“You’d think being awarded the Military Cross for leading the first bayonet charge since the Falklands, taking your wife to Buckingham Palace, meeting the Queen, would make you proud. But the only thing in my mind was these accusations.”
In December 2014 the inquiry ruled that the allegations of torture and murder were “wholly without foundation and entirely the product of deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility”.
But the pressure almost ended his marriage to childhood sweetheart Lucy. L/Cpl Wood, of Bordon, Hampshire, said: “We had a baby boy and two weeks later I went to war. I came back scarred.
“I tried to handle it alone. It was a mistake. I became aggressive, took a lot of stuff I was holding inside of me out on those I loved dearly.”
- Paul Shiner's twisted ethics stand out, says Harry Hodges
- Calls to scrap 'unfit for purpose' Iraq War crimes probe
- Disgraced lawyer Phil Shiner may lose honorary doctorate after review