On 13th November 2019, family, friends and colleagues of Guardsman Paul Fryer gathered at the side of a Commonwealth War Grave at Danygraig Cemetery, Risca to remember him, 40 years to the date that he was killed by the IRA in Crossmaglen at around 12.45hrs on 13th November 1979 aged just 18. The rain stayed away and the short service was fitting, moving and emotional.
Paul joined the Welsh Guards in 1977 and on completion of training at the Guards Depot, Pirbright was posted to 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in Wavell Barracks, Berlin on 19 October 1978. He joined Prince of Wales Company (POW Coy) and took part in all the normal Battalion routine activities; Berlin Train Guard, Spandau Prison Guard, continual readiness training and sport – Paul was very fit and excelled as a runner.
On 3 July 1979 Paul moved with the Battalion to Elizabeth Barracks Pirbright and after completing the pre-Northern Ireland training packages was deployed on Op BANNER, to South Armagh, with POW Coy taking over the Crossmaglen TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility). Paul deployed with his Platoon on 25 October 1979 and was to be killed less than 3 weeks later.
On 13th November 1979 Paul was on patrol in the Fords Cross area of Crossmaglen with his Brick led by his Platoon Commander Lt Peter Bevan (RIP) with Gdsm Dai Parry 65 and Gdsm Mike Miller 84 making up the four-man brick. Having successfully carried out their scheduled routine patrol they were moving to a rendezvous point to return to base by helicopter (the only safe way to travel in the area) and whilst moving from one field across a road to another, a RCIED (Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device) consisting of 200lb of explosive concealed in a hidden milk churn was detonated.
Paul, who was directly above the device, was killed instantly and Gdsm Miller 84 sustained injuries.
We have never forgotten Paul and were delighted when one of his POW Coy colleagues and friend (Bob Stanbridge) was able to track down members of Paul’s family via an article in the South Wales Argus. We were able to advise them on applying for the Elizabeth Cross and, with the superb assistance of the Ministry of Defence Medal Office, were successful in having it produced in time to be presented to Paul’s family by Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Gwent after they had joined us in remembering Paul at his graveside on the 40th anniversary of his death.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them
The full set of photographs, expertly taken as always by Neil Rice can be viewed and downloaded here.
Media coverage here.