Burnley soldier risks her life in bomb squad in Afghanistan

FRONT LINE: "Charlie", Charlotte Watson
FRONT LINE: "Charlie", Charlotte Watson

AN elite female soldier from Burnley is risking her life to protect her comrades in Afghanistan.

Charlotte Watson, known as Charlie, is a volunteer bomb checker. She serves with an elite RAF force and it falls to her to search women and children in case they are carrying bombs and explosives. Aged 22, she is a corporal with the RAF Regiment and was asked to take up her role because of cultural sensitivity dealing with the population in Helmand Province.

CIVVIES: Charlie Watson

CIVVIES: Charlie Watson

The work involves crossing bleak tracts of the landscape, frequently coming under small arms fire, and searching compounds before the main Allied Forces move in.

Said Charlotte: “When we go to a compound if there are any women and children there I take them to one side and search them to make sure they have not got anything on them they shouldn’t and make sure it is safe for the people who come in after me.”

The searches are part of a combined RAF Regiment and US Marines operation.

A former pupil at Habergham High School, it was Charlie’s dream to serve with the RAF. She was in 352 (Burnley) Squadron Air Training Corps from 15 and has been in the Service four years.

There’s more on brave Charlie in today’s Express.