Rifleman Gigar Das
General Sir Peter Wall (right) watches as Rifleman Gigar Das receives his lance corporal's stripe from General Bertrand Ract-Madoux[Picture: Crown copyright]

A British Army soldier was given an on-the-spot promotion - the first of its kind for more than 50 years - while he was conducting a shooting lesson.

Rifleman Gigar Das, of 1st Battalion The Rifles, who is usually based at Beachley Barracks in Chepstow, had been delivering infantry training to Malian counterparts when he was given the first promotion in the field since 1953.

Chief of the general staff, Sir Peter Wall who was observing the tutorial with the head of the French Army, General Bertrand Ract-Madoux, was so impressed by what he saw from Rifleman Das that he decided to promote him then and there.

In front of the EU training team, Rifleman Das, who has served in the Army for eight years and deployed on three tours of Afghanistan and one of Iraq, was presented with his lance corporal's stripe by the head of the French Army.

On receiving his promotion, Lance Corporal Das said: "I wasn't expecting anything like this to happen today when I got out of bed this morning. It is extremely unexpected and I couldn't be more proud of this honour."

Gigar Das2
Major Sam Cates congratulates the newly-promoted Lance Corporal Gigar Das[Picture: Crown copyright]

The newly-promoted lance corporal's company commander, Major Sam Cates, said: "I am extremely proud of Lance Corporal Das, this is absolutely no more than he deserves. He has been one of the most outstanding riflemen I have ever had the privilege to command.

"He sacrificed the opportunity to attend the last 1 RIFLES [junior non-commissioned officer] cadre to take his place on this operational deployment, and to be recognised in this unique way is some reward for his dedication."

It is not known who received the instant promotion in 1953 but it is thought to have occurred during the Korea war.