Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2011, Lance Corporal Paul Watkins, 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's), was killed in Afghanistan. He had been in his vehicle at Nahr-e Saraj, providing fire and communications support for a joint foot patrol with members of the Afghan National Army. One of the Afghan army soldiers turned his gun on Lance Corporal Watkins and shot him – the soldier then fled but was located and arrested three months later. .
Lance Corporal Watkins who was born in South Africa, had joined the army four years earlier as a Foreign and Commonwealth soldier. After basic training he completed special-to-arm training, and went on to serve in Iraq. His colleagues described him as courageous, larger-than-life, enthusiastic and dedicated. The tributes which were paid to him after his death showed how much he was liked and respected by all ranks.
Lieutenant Colonel William Fooks said of him: “Lance Corporal Paul Watkins was absolutely someone you’d want on your team and by your side; tough, hugely dependable and determined, yet compassionate. When all around him was frenzied activity Lance Corporal Watkins would be serenely and reassuringly calm. And combined with his arid sense of humour and his disarming grin, a big problem very quickly became no problem at all. Born in South Africa he’d joined the 9th/12th Royal Lancers for the adventure - and by God did he find it, even in the relatively short space of time that he had been with the regiment. This was a mature and vibrant young man, who lived his life to the full and was trusted and respected across the board both in Germany, where the regiment is based, and out here in Helmand. Lance Corporal Watkins will be missed immeasurably by us all but never forgotten”.
Paul, from Port Elizabeth in South Africa, was 24 years old.