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Service held for soldiers while thousands protest

A Ranger from North Down who died in a tragic ‘accident’ in February has been remembered in a church service held in Belfast at the weekend.

The service of remembrance and thanksgiving was held in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday May, 22.

A wreath was laid in memory of three First Battalion Rangers — Bangor man David Dalzell, Aaron McCormick and Lance Corporal Stephen McKee — at the Royal Irish Regiment event.

David Dalzell (20), was killed in an ‘operational accident’ when he was accidentally shot by another soldier at Checkpoint Ranger in Nad ‘Ali, Helmand province.

Three candles were lit by three soldiers before a minute’s silence was held and the wreath was laid by their commanding officer.

The colonel of the regiment — Lieutenant General Sir Philip Trousdell and commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir both read a lesson during the service.

The church service was held on the same day as military homecoming parades held in Lisburn and Ballymena and a 2,000 strong protest at Belfast City Hall over the MOD’s decision not to hold a homecoming parade in Belfast.

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Defence Secretary Liam Fox said it was a “kind invitation” but a parade was “not the best way to proceed”.

The MOD have since said Belfast will hold an event for soldiers returning from Afghanistan and that they are “consulting” with Belfast City Council.

Ranger Dalzell's parents, Gordon and Susan, said of his tragic death: “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.”

At the time of his death his family released a statement that read: “David died after being accidentally shot by another soldier while they were back at their operating base. We don't know exactly what happened, just that our son was fatally wounded. As well as our huge loss which has devastated the family, that other soldier must be suffering and our thoughts are with him as well.”

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.”

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