A SERVICE of remembrance has been held for a Gwent soldier who died 40 years ago in an IRA attack in Northern Ireland, following an appeal by the Argus to track down his family members.

Earlier this year the Argus reported former members of the armed forces who served alongside Paul Fryer had appealed for family members of their former comrade to come forward to attend a memorial service marking the 40th anniversary of his death.

And yesterday, Wednesday, 40 years to the day since Guardsman Fryer died aged just 18, family members, friends, and army comrades gathered at his graveside in Danygraig Cemetery in Risca.


South Wales Argus:

Guardsman Paul Fryer

Five serving members of his old regiment, The Welsh Guards, were in attendance at the service, led by regiment chaplain Padre Matthew Dietz.

At the graveside, Padre Matthew read prayers and led a stirring rendition of Cwm Rhondda, followed by a few words from Major (ret) Martin Browne – Guardsman Fryer's army friend and one of the organisers of the service.

He told mourners how Guardsman Fryer had been remembered by his platoon comrades.

South Wales Argus:

Wreaths laid at Guardsman Paul Fryer's grave in Risca

"He joined in August 1978 and was quick to make friends," Major Browne said. "He was very generous, and always had time to listen to the troubles of others.

"He was approachable and well-liked. He was a keen sportsman and never missed an opportunity to enjoy life, and to encourage others to do the same. His death has left a vacuum in this platoon."

The Welsh Guards had been deployed to Northern Ireland in the 1970s as part of the British state security forces at the height of the Troubles.

South Wales Argus:

A member of the Risca branch of the Royal British Legion lowers the standard during the Last Post

On November 13, 1979, Guardsman Fryer and three squad-mates had just finished a patrol near Crossmaglen when they were attacked. A group of IRA (Provisional Irish Republican Army) fighters detonated a radio-controlled bomb from their hidden position, killing Guardsman Fryer instantly, and wounding another soldier.

South Wales Argus:

The Last Post is sounded at the remembrance service for Welsh Guard Paul Fryer, in Risca

Guardsman Fryer was buried in Risca with a military gravestone, and it was there that wreaths were laid – on behalf of the Welsh Guards, the Prince of Wales Company, the Risca branch of the Royal British Legion, and his family and friends.

Guardsman Fryer's cousin, Jacqueline Johnston, said she remembered him as a "very happy child who loved playing in the mountains with his friends".

South Wales Argus:

How the Argus reported Guardsman Paul Fryer's death

She said her friend had told her about the Argus article searching for her cousin's relatives.

"The family had no idea all these people mourned him," she said. "We're really moved by it all. His friends have got in touch with us that we didn't know he had, and it's been lovely to meet the boys from his platoon."