A soldier fatally shot 12 times by Afghan terrorists who hid guns in their robes begged the battlefield medic: ‘I’m going to die, tell my Mrs and baby I love them,’ an inquest heard.
Grenadier Guardsman Karl Whittle, 22, was fired at by a gang of insurgents on motorbikes while he was on a sentry patrol in Helmand province.
The rebels fired on the new father from just one or two metres away, shooting him 12 times in the body and legs before he was even able to fire his weapon.
In his thoughts: Guardsman Whittle’s fiancee Zoe Falim with their daughter Grace, now aged two
As he lay injured, Guardsman Whittle asked his colleagues in Nahr-e Saraj to send his love to his fiancee Zoe Falim and new-born daughter Grace, repeating: ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die.’
An inquest into Guardsman Whittle’s death heard the soldier was airlifted to Camp Bastion following the attack on August 14, 2012, and died three weeks later.
Speaking at the hearing at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, Major Piers Ashfield said witnesses ran into the main compound after the attack on the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
‘Four motorbike passengers approached the sentry,’ he said.
‘From underneath their robes they pulled out weapons and engaged the sentry from one or two metres away.’
The insurgents then attacked the main compound – but were repelled – while medic Lance Corporal Robin King tried to save Guardsman Whittle.
Precious: One of the only pictures ever taken of Grenadier Whittle with his fiancee Zoe Falim and their little daughter Grace
He told the hearing that the soldier from Bristol, said: ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die, tell my Mrs and baby I love them.’
Guardsman Whittle was manning a sangar fortification on a solo sentry position at a checkpoint when he was attacked at around midday.
According to Lance Corporal Ashley Hendy, who spoke to the injured soldier as he was being treated, Guardsman Whittle said: ‘I didn’t even fire my weapon. I couldn’t see them.
‘They just popped up from the tree line in front of me.’
Tony Reuben, a former lance corporal serving with Guardsman Whittle, broke down in tears as he recounted the attack.
‘I said to him “what did you see?”, he said.
‘He was just saying “I’m going to die, I’m going to die”.’
A post-mortem examination found the soldier was shot at least 12 times before he was airlifted to Camp Bastion where he was stabilised over three days.
He was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where his condition deteriorated until doctors found that ‘further intervention was futile’.
He died on September 7, and Major Ashfield said his long battle to survive was ‘testament to his fitness and stamina’.
The pathologist’s report said Guardsman Whittle died from multiple organ failure, hypothermia and multiple gunshot wounds.
Doting father: Guardsman Whittle with his little girl. His fiancee described him as the ‘perfect father’
Coroner Maria Voisin concluded he had been unlawfully killed while on active service.
She added that his family had asked her to thank all the medics who attempted to save the young soldier.
Speaking outside the court, Karl’s mother Julie Cogzell, 45, said: ‘The whole family, including his fiancee and daughter are incredibly proud of him.
‘The fact that he survived for so long after being shot 12 times shows just how strong he was.’
Speaking of the moments after her son was attacked she added: ‘They were having to cut his clothes off and he was apparently joking about his parts being on show – that’s Karl. We would expect that from him.
‘Even when they were carrying him to the helicopter he was joking by telling them not to drop him.’
Guardsman Whittle’s fiancee described him as the perfect partner and father who doted on his newborn ‘little princess’.
Guardsman Whittle met Miss Falim, 20, when she was just 16 and he was 19 and the pair were matched together as doubles partners in a game of pool at a pub in Bristol.
Miss Falim said his touching words after the shooting were comforting and came as no surprise because Guardsman Whittle always kept his family in his thoughts.
Tributes: Grace, now two, with her mother Zoe Falim, who said Guardsman Whittle had doted on his ‘little princess’
‘He was a perfect father and a perfect fiance,’ the care worker from Bristol said today.
‘I know he always had Grace with him because he had a picture of her that he took whenever he went out that he kept in his pocket.
‘Grace was his little princess.
‘He was such a family man. We were such a close group and I still am really close to his family. He was most happy when he was with us all.
‘He was always thinking of us. It was so sweet and touching to hear that he was thinking of us despite everything he was going through.’
Guardsman Whittle also left behind a sister Leanne, 25, and brother Aaron, nine.
He joined the Army in 2009 and after completing the Combat Infantryman’s Course at Catterick moved to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards.
Karl conducted public duties at the Royal Palaces and served in state ceremonial tasks.
He joined Three Platoon, The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in Aldershot in August 2011 and immediately began training for the upcoming tour in Afghanistan before deploying on April 5, 2012 as part of the Operations Company for Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (North).
Since his death his family have raised more than £4,600 in his memory for SSAFA, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens Families Association, by completing a walk up Mount Snowdon.