A Sussex army officer single-handedly took on Taliban insurgents to save the men under his command.

Major Justin Stenhouse, of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) at a ceremony yesterday after single-handedly taking on Taliban insurgents to save the men under his command.

The officer, from Coleman’s Hatch, near Hartfield, was leading an elite reconnaissance unit when he and his men were pinned down in an attack as they attempted to recover weapons being used against them.

He ran forward into open ground to throw himself into the line of fire and put the Taliban fighters on the back foot during heavy gunfire in Helmand province last winter.

Receiving the second-highest military honour for active service had been “very special, humbling and a great tribute to the other 123 soldiers in our squadron, who performed magnificently in Afghanistan”, he said.

Commenting on his heroics, Maj Stenhouse said: “It was getting a little unpleasant and we just needed to go forward.

“You don’t ever think about it until afterwards when you realise that you are OK.

Conversation “I am told it was pretty close but you have just got to get everyone up and get everyone moving.

“You get up and you take the fight to the enemy – it’s the safest way actually to get out of there, otherwise you get fixed and they start getting a bit closer. Luckily everyone came back in one piece.”

During his conversation with the Queen she asked him if he would be returning to Afghanistan anytime soon.

“I answered: ‘Not at the moment’ but you never know in the Army– you can get a call and be going there shortly afterwards," he said.

Maj Stenhouse said the medal would someday join his grandfather’s DSO.

“He also received one in the Second World War for building the road up to Monte Cassino in 1944,” he said.