A British soldier saved his comrades by scooping up a live Taliban grenade and throwing it straight back at the enemy moments before it exploded.

The grenade hit Rifleman James McKie's platoon commander and landed at his feet during a battle in the Sangin area of Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

And as the enemy continued to pound his position from three directions the young soldier lobbed the grenade as far as he could.

"I remember thinking that if I didn't pull this off, it was going to hurt," he said. "But at that stage I was pretty much committed."

Split seconds after the grenade left his hand it exploded in mid-air, firing fragments into Rifleman McKie's face and arm.

His commander Captain Graeme Kerr suffered leg injuries and is now recovering at Selly Oak Hospital in the U.K.

McKie was posted on the roof of a building when he saw the grenade. Another soldier, also on the roof, escaped unhurt.

"I heard what sounded like a mini flare come from our right where I knew there were none of our guys, so I thought this was really unusual," McKie said. "We were in a high position on a compound roof. There was no way you could throw yourself off and not get injured, so I made a decision to pick up the grenade and throw it off the roof."

McKie threw smoke to cover their withdrawal, allowing them to reach the safety of another compound.

Captain Kerr was immediately evacuated by helicopter, but Rifleman McKie was able to continue in his duties until the following day.

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