A soldier who won a Victoria Cross for bravery died when the grenade he was about to throw at a Taliban sniper exploded next to him, an inquest has found.
Lance Corporal James "Jimmy" Ashworth was killed as he attempted to clear Taliban compounds in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, last June.
The 23-year-old, of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, pulled the pin out of his grenade as he inched towards an enemy soldier before being hit by a Taliban bullet.
Disabled from the bullet's blow, which hit his body armour, the 6ft 8ins soldier died when the grenade went off next to him.
Anne Pember, the Northamptonshire coroner, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing after the inquest at Kettering Magistrates Court.
She said a post mortem revealed L/Cpl Ashworth's cause of death as blast injuries caused by an explosion.
The soldier's mother Kerry Ashworth spoke after the hearing, saying: "Losing James has been a devastating experience for all of us who love him.
"He was taken all too soon from us and sadly we share our grief with all the families who have lost loved ones over the years on operational tours.
"James passed away doing a job he loved. At times it was a hard job. But he did get to experience new countries, learn new skills and make some wonderful friends."
L/Cpl Ashworth was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously in March.
His citation read: "His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.
"This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition."
L/Cpl Ashworth's commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder described him as the "bravest of soldiers and the best of men".
"His remarkable gallantry, selfless commitment and tenacity last summer serve as an example for us all," he added.
"His contribution in Afghanistan in 2012 will continue to inspire soldiers in the Grenadier Guards for many years to come."
The Victoria Cross is the most prestigious of all military decorations and only awarded in exceptional circumstances for bravery carried out under direct enemy fire.
It was first created on January 29, 1856, and is hand-made from bronze cannon captured from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55 during the Crimean War.