rifleman delanimati 3rifles release credit British Army.jpg
The Defence Serious Crime Command and Unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death (Picture: British Army).

'Personification of selfless commitment': Tributes for British Army soldier who died while on deployment to Estonia

	rifleman delanimati 3rifles release credit British Army.jpg
The Defence Serious Crime Command and Unit is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death (Picture: British Army).

A British soldier who died while deployed on Operation CABRIT in Estonia was "the personification of selfless commitment", according to his Commanding Officer.

Rifleman Israel Delanimati, from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, died after an incident in Tartu on 3 June, during a period of operational stand-down, the Army said.

Tributes from across the Army have been paid to the 24-year-old, known as 'Del'. 

'Softly spoken but with an iron will'

Lieutenant Colonel JM Barry, Commanding Officer 3 Rifles, was among those to pay tribute to Rifleman Delanimati, saying: "Good humoured, kind-hearted, softly spoken but with an iron will, Rifleman Israel Delanimati was the personification of selfless commitment.

"Although still a young man, he had found the time to invest in deep passions for musicianship, martial arts, and cooking. We are honoured that he added soldiering to that list.

"Despite the individual nature of these pursuits, he was the most collegiate of souls, a core member of our Fijian cohort and cherished part of his platoon.

"All those that knew him speak about his irrepressible smile; a blast of Pacific sunshine to warm the bleakest of winter nights on a North European plain. 

"It has been our privilege to call Rifleman Delanimati a comrade and fellow Rifleman."

'A Rifleman of impeccable personal values'

Major CS Flood, Officer Commanding A Company, 3 Rifles said: "Rifleman Delanimati only arrived in A Company last year, but had already left a huge impression on us all. He joined us just before an exercise in Germany and our deployment to Estonia; his excitement in the face of those new challenges – despite the freezing temperatures in January - was palpable.

"'Del' was known for his ready smile which could seemingly brighten any room. He had time for anyone. I will remember him as a Rifleman of impeccable personal values; unrelentingly gracious and utterly determined to leave everyone at ease.

"Even at the hardest of times, when most would lack patience, Del could find a reason to grin. Simply, he was someone you wanted to be around and a Rifleman you always wanted on your team.

"A Company is stronger for having known Del and I am immensely proud to have served with him. Our thoughts are with Rifleman Delanimati's family and the close-knit Fijian community he served alongside. Swift and Bold."

'A key member of his section'

Second Lieutenant Annie Smith, 3 Platoon Commander, A Company, 3 Rifles, also paid tribute to Rifleman Delanimati who said "his potential was clear".

She said: "Rifleman Israel Delanimati, known fondly to all as 'Del', arrived into A Company in late 2022. He immediately committed to Pre-Deployment Training for Operation Cabrit, proudly achieving his Javelin Gunner Qualification.

"Although a junior Rifleman, he rose to the challenges of learning a specialist role. Not an anti-tank specialist by trade, he was often sought out specifically for specialised actions on exercises. Throughout, he was capable and keen to learn. His potential was clear. 

"During his training he approached everything with a smile. While deployed to Germany in January in minus ten degrees - no glamorous task - nobody failed to notice Rifleman Del's professionalism. Or that he brought all the warm kit that he owned! 

"He embodied the 'thinking Rifleman', always looking to further his military knowledge and understanding. Del will be remembered as polite, well-mannered and softly spoken, but not for lack of confidence. He was a key member of his section. His loss will leave a gap within 3 Platoon, within the Company, and within the Fijian community of 3 Rifles."

'Will be immensely missed'

Warrant Officer Class 2 M Artiss, Company Serjeant Major, A Company, 3 Rifles said: "I was hugely honoured to be in A Company with Rifleman Delanimati; he was a very kind, hard-working Rfn who I trusted implicitly.

"Highly modest and affable, he will be immensely missed by myself and all members of the Company."

'A friend to everyone'

The Riflemen of 3 Platoon, A Company, paid tribute as a collective, saying Rifleman Delanimati leaves them with "affectionate and indelible memories that will stay with us the rest of our lives".

The Riflemen said: "Del was a friend to everyone. He treated everyone with kindness and respect. He was a man of many talents yet always humble.

"To 1 section, Del was a friend first and a rifleman second. We didn't need a dictionary to understand the definition of selflessness after being in his presence. He would always help those around him even when he was struggling himself. He would share anything without a second thought.

"I remember many times when things got tough, I'd look over at Del and ask if he was okay, he'd never complain and would always have a smile on his face, no matter the adversities faced.

"As a section we've faced many tough times. All of which couldn't defeat Del's spirit and energy which was infectious and invigorating. Every Rifleman should take inspiration from the strength of his character.

"Del leaves affectionate and indelible memories that will stay with us the rest of our lives."

'Like a little brother to me'

Rifleman Tuileva, 3 Platoon, A Company, said Rifleman Delanimati had a "heart of gold" and added that they were so close people wondered if they were related.

"Del has been more like a little brother to me. We left Fiji on the same day to start our Army career. We both marched into depot and joined the same platoon. He had a heart of gold, always willing to help others and put their needs before his own.

"People would centre around him just because of the positive vibes he had. He was always happy and smiling even through difficulties. We were so close to each other that people wondered if were related. Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman."

'Always the lad smiling'

Corporal Lavender, Section Commander, 3 Platoon, A Company, said: "Rifleman Delanimati's high morale was unbreakable, even during poor conditions in Sennelager in the middle of winter.

"Del was always the lad smiling, who never complained, and always rose to any task given to him. He was absolutely one of my 'go to' lads within the section, often being relied upon for important tasks normally entrusted to more senior Riflemen. He will be missed by myself and the rest of the Platoon."

The UK's Armed Forces have a leading role in Nato's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic States, in order to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure allies and deter any adversaries, as part of Operation CABRIT.

The eFP in the Baltic states is a deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a lasting, rotational basis. 

British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.

The British Army said the cause of death will be determined by a coroner, while the Defence Serious Crime Command and Unit continues to investigate the circumstances.

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


Ukrainian firm shows how its drones are being armed against Russia

Ukraine's flat-pack cardboard drones destroying Russian jets

Army v RAF LIVE! | Inter Services men’s rugby league 2023