Northern Ireland

Afghanistan military deaths commemorated at service

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe service was held at St Paul's Cathedral in London, as Mervyn Jess reports

Relatives of soldiers from Northern Ireland who lost their lives in Afghanistan have attended a service in London.

The commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral marked an official closure to combat operations in Afghanistan that began in 2001 and ended in 2014.

Nine soldiers from NI were killed, eight men and one woman.

Three soldiers from the Irish Republic, serving in other British units, were also killed.

Four others from outside NI, serving in the Royal Irish Regiment, also died.

Hundreds of other Northern Ireland born soldiers, sailors and airmen took part over the 13 years, many as members of reservist medical units based in Belfast, Newtownards and Armagh.

Image caption Nine soldiers from Northern Ireland died, along with four others from outside Northern Ireland who were serving with the Royal Irish Regiment. Three soldiers from the Republic of Ireland also lost their lives.

The frontline soldiers were primarily based in Helmand province, where they encountered constant attack from the Taliban either in direct fire-fights or from deadly hidden improvised explosive devices.

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended the service along with many other dignitaries and veterans.

Amongst those who attended from Northern Ireland were Rosemary and Leslie Day from Comber, County Down.

Image caption Rosemary and Leslie Day's daughter Channing was shot dead by an off-duty Afghan policeman in Helmand province

Their daughter Channing was shot dead by an off duty Afghan policeman in Helmand province in October 2012.

Susan and Gordon Dalzell, from Bangor, County Down, also travelled to London for the commemoration.

They lost their son David in 2011 when he was accidentally shot by a colleague unloading a weapon in Helmand province.

Centre stage at the ceremony was a solid brass cross made out of used shell casings and brought back from Camp Bastion's memorial to the dead in Helmand.

The Chaplain General to Her Majesty's Land Forces, the Reverend David G Coulter, who is originally from Belfast, and a former soldier with the Royal Irish Regiment, helped to dedicate the cross.

Image caption Susan and Gordon Dalzell lost their son David in 2011. He was accidentally shot by a colleague unloading a weapon

Soldiers, families and relatives of some of those killed in Afghanistan also took part in a service of commemoration, reflection and remembrance at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn which coincided with the service at St Paul's Cathedral.

UK forces were part of a US-led coalition which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the ruling Taliban in 2001.

At the peak of the 13-year campaign the UK military had 9,500 troops and 137 bases in Helmand Province.

Four hundred and fifty three UK troops died during that time.

Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption British soldiers who remain in Kabul in Afghanistan in a mentoring role also held a service on Friday to commemorate their colleagues

The UK ended its operations in October, while Nato finished its mission in December.

Several hundred British soldiers remain in Afghanistan assisting the Afghan government and Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) in a mentoring role.

The BBC news website has compiled a complete list of UK military deaths in Afghanistan that you can find here.

More on this story