A hero Royal Marine could be in line for a Victoria Cross medal after throwing himself over an exploding grenade in southern Afghanistan in a bid to shield his comrades. Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher, 24, let his rucksack take the force of the blast - and his three pals escaped with just cuts and bruises. L/Cpl Croucher, whose brave actions gave him a nose bleed, could be the first Royal Marine since 1945 to win the award. His citation has been passed to the Commanding officer of 40 Commando and will go to a committee which decides on the award of VCs. L/Cpl Croucher, from Birmingham, was taking part in a mission to uncover a suspected Taliban bomb-making factory in Helmand Province in February. But his foot brushed a tripwire and he saw a pineapple-type grenade with the pin coming out. He shouted: "Grenade, take cover," as two of his comrades were only metres behind him. His backpack, containing a medical pack, shoulder-launched rocket and medical equipment, took the full force of the blast. L/Cpl Croucher told The Times newspaper: "I thought, I've set the bloody thing off and I'm going to do whatever it takes to protect the others. I'm very tight with the three other guys. There have been a few times when they've saved my bacon. He told the newspaper he had a nose bleed and it was 30 seconds before he realised he was still alive.