Operations in Afghanistan

Ranger David Dalzell killed in Afghanistan

It is with regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Ranger David Dalzell, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was killed on 4 February 2011 as a result of an operational accident while working at Checkpoint Ranger in Nad 'Ali, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Ranger David Dalzell (All rights reserved.)
Ranger David Dalzell (All rights reserved.)

Ranger Dalzell was 20 years old and came from Bangor in County Down, Northern Ireland. On completion of his recruit training he joined 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in July 2010.

Ranger Dalzell was posted to A Company, where he served with distinction for 6 months. He was on his first deployment, and was quickly identified as a quality soldier. He was always the first to volunteer. Despite a very short time in the Army he quickly established himself amongst his fellow Rangers as a resilient and trustworthy soldier. ‘Dal’, as he was known, has made a lasting impression.

Always ready with a smile, Ranger Dalzell was armed with a quick wit and had the ability to turn a rough day into a good story and lighten the mood. He leaves behind his father Gordon, his mother Susan, his sisters Kelly, Catherine and Rachael, and his brothers Gareth, Mark and Stewart. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

Ranger Dalzell’s parents, Gordon and Susan, said:

David was a loving and caring son and he was very proud to be a soldier. We are very proud of David as a son and he leaves behind a void that will never be filled. He will be missed by his brothers Gareth, Mark and Stewart and sisters Kelly, Catherine and Rachael.

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger David Dalzell was an extraordinary young man, and despite his relatively short time in the Army he was already much loved by his fellow soldiers.

He took to the field of battle like a natural; he was perfectly at home in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances and his bravery never wavered under fire. He cheerfully carried the heaviest kit, over the most difficult terrain, in the most dangerous place in Helmand, and when the time would come to fight he was fierce. Day after day he continually faced down the enemy and fought shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother Rangers; he was fearless.

David was a bright, cheerful and popular young man with a core of steel. His presence in the most fought-over part of Helmand contributed significantly to the safety of the population and to the success of our mission. This battle group is deeply upset by his death, but we are also intensely proud of him and his many achievements.

His time with us was too short, but in that time he experienced more, and contributed more, than most men do in a lifetime. In our quieter moments we will think of him and pray for him and his heartbroken family and friends.

Captain Tobias Whitmarsh, A Company Second-in-Command, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger David Dalzell spent the majority of this tour where the fighting was fiercest, in the badlands of central Zaborabad. A key figure on every patrol, it was he who without fail carried the heaviest piece of equipment, winning the respect and admiration of his platoon. He was subsequently hand-picked to man Ranger, a new checkpoint situated in ground taken from the Taliban and in which the local people now live free from persecution and fear - this is his legacy.

Quick-witted, fearless and loved by all, he has been a shining light in our midst over the past five months. He only joined the battalion a week before we departed for Afghanistan, not that you could tell, such was the ease with which he established himself within the company. In this case the length of his service is irrelevant when set against all that he achieved.

He was a credit to his hometown of Bangor and even more so to his family, and my thoughts are with them at this difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all who had the honour of fighting by his side.

Warrant Officer Class 2 William Roy, Company Sergeant Major, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger Dalzell arrived at A Company just prior to our deployment to Afghanistan, having just completed basic training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick. He quickly established himself amongst his fellow Rangers as a resilient and trustworthy soldier. These qualities earmarked him as an ideal candidate to occupy the new Checkpoint Ranger. This checkpoint and the soldiers who manned it were critical in providing security to the people of Sayedabad.

His enthusiasm and dedication to provide security to both his fellow soldiers and the local population demonstrated a maturity beyond his years. It was while providing that security that Ranger Dalzell tragically fell on the morning of 4 February 2011.

In the short time that Ranger David Dalzell served with A Company he has made a lasting impression, the courage he displayed during the conduct of his duties was an example to us all. He will be sorely missed by his fellow soldiers and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most difficult of times.

Lieutenant Paddy Pratt, 1 Platoon Commander, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger David Dalzell joined the company just prior to this tour yet still made friends easily amongst a close-knit group. He was always happy to do his part and learned from others in the platoon. He was also quick to get a sly dig in, but always in a banter-full way. It was immensely rewarding to see him develop through the tour. He has done his friends, family and One Platoon proud. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. We will honour him with our actions and remember him fondly.

Sergeant Thomas McGivern, 1 Platoon Sergeant, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

David joined the platoon just prior to the tour. I was surprised how quickly he settled. He made me laugh, always bringing the welfare phone back with the battery run dead. He was an honourable lad who always talked highly of his family. It is a tragic shame his life was cut short. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. RIP mate.

Corporal Robin McDowell , Section Commander, 1 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger David Dalzell was the newest member of my section but fitted in and became a valued and well-liked member of the patrol. He contributed a great deal as a rifleman; both engaging with the population and fighting with the enemy. David will be sorely missed and was much more than just a member of the section.

Ranger Colin McMoordie, 1 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger Dalzell will be remembered as a good mate who brought humour to a harsh environment. He dealt with every situation professionally and courageously. He made the people of Bangor proud. He will be sorely missed and my deepest sympathy to his friends and loved ones. RIP mate.

Ranger Stefan Hancock, 1 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

I knew Ranger Dalzell all the way through his short career. He showed a love for the job and real passion. I saw him in many contacts and he always showed bravery and great pride in his regiment. He always raised morale and there was never a dull moment to say the least. He was also always willing to lend a hand. He always spoke highly of his family and my thoughts go out to them, saddened by the loss of a son, brother and a mate.

Ranger Lance Parkhill, 1 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

Ranger Dalzell came to us just before deploying. Even though he was new, he was courageous from the start. It’s been an honour to have him in my section and he will be missed. He will always be remembered as a mate.

Ranger Silbert Wilson, 1 Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

I met Ranger Dalzell on his first weekend in battalion. We had a lot in common, we both like tattoos, dance music and having a laugh. I had been in a while longer than Dalzell, so if he ever needed a hand doing anything he came to me and I kept him right.

We ended up in the same section in Checkpoint Sabat and when we went on patrol he was the man behind me and I used to joke with him ‘to stop following me will you’ - that always made us laugh. He helped me out of some pretty bad fire fights. We had each other’s back and we called ourselves brothers-in-arms.

We had the same R&R and he bought the first pint when we got to London, which ended up being a few more, waiting in the departures lounge before we flew home to Belfast. Ranger Dalzell was a brilliant soldier and an even more brilliant friend. I’ll miss him sorely.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

I was extremely saddened to hear about Ranger David Dalzell’s death, which I am sure has come as a heavy blow to his friends and colleagues in A Company, 1 Royal Irish. By all accounts he was a most promising young soldier who served his country with courage and honour. This sad loss will be felt by many, and my thoughts are with his family, and his friends and colleagues.