Gen Sir David Richards tribute to Lt Douglas Dalzell

Lt Douglas Dalzell
Image caption Lt Douglas Dalzell was killed after stepping on a makeshift bomb

The head of the armed forces has paid tribute to a British officer who was killed in Afghanistan.

Gen Sir David Richards said Lt Douglas "Dougie" Dalzell, 27, of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, represented "the very best of servicemen and women".

Lt Dalzell, who died on his birthday last year when he stepped on a bomb in Helmand province, posthumously received the Military Cross for his bravery.

Gen Richards was speaking at the launch of a charity in Lt Dalzell's name.

Launching the Lt Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust - set up to help wounded servicemen and their families - he told a packed audience the guardsman had been an "exemplary" soldier in the concern he showed for the "well-being" and safe return of his men.

"He represents to me - and all of us here - the very best of servicemen and women I have the privilege to lead," he said.

The chief of the defence staff went on: "While his life was tragically cut short, its impact will last, I have no doubt, long beyond mine.

"It's important to those of us in the military that when we fight, we fight for a cause we believe in. He really did believe in this cause... This is why Dougie died in combat."

Lt Dalzell, of Hamstead Marshall, Berkshire, had been on a major push against the Taliban when he was caught in the fatal explosion.

An inquest later revealed two soldiers had passed safely over the improvised explosive device (IED) that claimed his life on 18 February in the war-torn Babaji region of Helmand province.

Following the soldier's death, friends and colleagues lined up to recognise his dedication to his men.

Lt Col Toby Gray, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, led tributes to Lt Dalzell, who he said clearly "adored his job and his guardsmen in equal measure".

"He was tragically killed, on his 27th birthday doing the job he loved and leading from the front," he said.

"The gap he leaves in his company, the battalion and officers' mess is enormous. We all mourn his death and will miss his gentle yet keen sense of humour."

Andy Jennings, 28, who was a friend of the dead soldier and chairs the charity, said: "We are thrilled to have already made a good start for the charity and with General Richards' support we hope to make a real difference to the lives of injured servicemen."

Donations to the charity can be made at the Lt Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust website.

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