Lance Corporal David Kirkness
3rd Battalion The Rifles
15th December 2009


It is with great regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness 3 RIFLES Reconnaissance Platoon, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 15 December 2009.

Lance Corporal Kirkness was killed following a suicide improvised explosive device blast on a route into central Sangin, northern Helmand, Afghanistan.

At the time his platoon was manning a vehicle checkpoint alongside an Afghan National Army section in order to provide reassurance and security to the local population.

Lance Corporal Kirkness was born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on 11 December 1985.

He was an air-conditioning engineer before joining the Army and, following training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, he joined 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 RIFLES) in Edinburgh in March 2004. He attended theJunior Non-Commissioned Officers' cadre in 2005 and was promoted to Lance Corporal in March 2006.

He completed a close protection course in 2008 and, earlier this year, a two-month course to learn Pashto, the native tongue in much of Helmand province.

He completed the highly demanding two-month sniper course before deploying to Afghanistan with the 3 RIFLES Battle Group in October and has since been a key part of the numerous patrols and operations that are bringing security and prosperity to the population of Sangin.

Lance Corporal Kirkness's parents, Christopher and Margaret Kirkness, and his daughter Brooke Kirkness, aged three, made the following statement:

"We would like to thank family and friends for their support over these difficult times. If you knew David, you had to love him - it was impossible not to. And in David's own words, 'If you didn't know me, hard luck'. He will always be in our hearts."

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson, Commanding Officer 3 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

"Lance Corporal Kirkness was a Rifleman of the highest standard, talented, highly motivated and with boundless energy. He was a first class leader, one who put the thoughts and needs of his men first.

To the younger Riflemen he gave inspiration and guidance, earning their respect and instilling in them the confidence and understanding to guide them through their current challenges. He balanced courage and grit with compassion and consideration, winning trust, admiration and friendship wherever he went.

Tragic as his loss is, we take comfort and pride from the fact that he and the soldiers who died with him, both Afghan and British, averted a much larger tragedy.

Their sacrifice prevented two suicide bombers from reaching their intended target, the bustling and ever more prosperous Sangin bazaar, packed with local Afghans going about their daily business.

The Battle Group has lost a talented young leader at the heart of the fight and we of The Rifles have lost a brother. He died doing a job for which he was the keenest of volunteers; a job he loved and for which he was made.

His memory, commitment and selflessness will be forever revered. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends; we all have much of which we can be truly proud."

Major James Richardson, Officer Commanding B Company, 3 RIFLES, said:

"The death of Lance Corporal Kirkness is a terrible blow to our Company Group and to the Recce Platoon in particular.

He was a multi-talented Rifleman - recce soldier, badged sniper, Pashto speaker - typical of the flexibility and quality we seek in our best people. He was a core member of the tight-knit gang that the Recce Platoon is.

He featured strongly in the future plans of the platoon because he was integral to the way the platoon ran and operated - quietly professional, undoubtedly capable, experienced, level-headed and driven by a desire tosee things done properly rather than through any ambition.

He was always at the centre of things, not because he craved attention or the limelight, but because people naturally gathered around him, such was his warmth. I suspect he was something of a father figure to some ofthe Riflemen.

He had a massive heart which was all too often worn on his sleeve and, perhaps unusually for someone in his profession, was never afraid to show his emotions.

His death has hit us all hard, for the hole that his personality has left cannot truly be filled. That said, our thoughts are with his family who will feel his loss even more keenly than we do."