Police investigating an attack on a soldier who was left fighting for his life after a pickaxe was embedded in his head, charged a 17-year-old private with attempted murder last night.

Lance Corporal Conrad Bisping, 26, of the First Battalion, the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, remained in a critical condition at Southampton General Hospital last night.

He sustained serious head injuries in the incident which reportedly happened at the end of a training exercise on Salisbury Plain, on Tuesday afternoon.

He underwent emergency surgery to have the pickaxe removed.

His wife, a servicewoman who is also based at Catterick, rushed from North Yorkshire to Hampshire to be by his side.

A 17-year-old private, who is from the same regiment, was arrested by Military Police immediately after the incident.

Detective Sergeant Andy Cross, of Wiltshire Police, who is leading the investigation, said the teenager had been remanded in custody. He will appear at North Wiltshire Magistrates' Court, Chippenham, at 10.30am today.

The First Battalion is based at Alma Barracks, Catterick, but has been in Wiltshire for training exercises.