Since 1976 the handful of those honoured with the medal were serving servicemen.

Mr Troulan, in his first interview with The Times , said ordinary people showed “quiet acts of decency and compassion too numerous to count.”

He added: “I see myself as a custodian, for all the other good people who helped that day: the medics, the people who turned up with bottles of water, the people offering first aid.”

The retired major was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal in 1993, when he was in the UK special forces.

Dad-of-two Mr Troulan also worked as a security consultant and helped to rescue British hostages, including Judith Tebbutt and also Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were held by pirates in Somalia.

He said he was “tremendously honoured” to be handed the medal, which is second only to the Victoria Cross, but said it brought back memories of the devastating attack.

Mr Troulan said: “Militarily, you go on operations, you have a plan and you divorce yourself from everything and you are focused on that plan.

Women run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen during the 2013 massacre
Women run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen during the 2013 massacre (Photo: Reuters)

“Nobody was mentally prepared for Westgate.

“This was in a shopping mall, a place you use to get your everyday groceries.

“I remember seeing the absolute carnage and thinking, ‘I have got to do something about this.’”

He said his inspiration were from the words of Theodore Roosevelt, the US President, who said in 1910 “credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

He also paid tribute to those who had shown “amazing human spirit” following the attacks in Manchester and London.

Source: Mirror