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Stranraer Man Appointed as Army Head

Brigadier David McDowallA STRANRAER man who joined the military after leaving the Academy has been appointed head of the army in Scotland and northern England.

In a move described by fellow officers as "unique" for someone of his background, Brigadier David McDowall will take up his post in January.

Following a ceremony in Edinburgh, he will become Major General McDowall, the General Officer commanding the Army in Scotland and the North of England and Governor of Edinburgh Castle. Brigadier

McDowall was educated at Stranraer's Rephad Primary School and the Academy. The 52-year-old father of three has served in Northern Ireland, for which he won an MBE, and Bosnia, where his expertise in developing communications systems was widely praised.

This week Brigadier McDowall told the Free Press he was "thrilled" at his appointment. He said:

"This is one more rung on the ladder, but I am conscious of my humble beginnings in Stranraer, and I am thrilled not just that this is a terrific appointment but that it brings me back to Scotland.

"My inspiration to join the army initially came from my father, who has always been a huge influence on my life, and as a member of the local pipe band I also met national servicemen who set a tremendous example.

"At both Rephad and the Academy I was not only taught academically, I felt I was being developed as an individual by the examples set by my teachers, and those traditional values have stood me in good stead throughout my military career.

"I feel the people who were around at that time have made as great a contribution to my career as anything I have done."

He continues to check the results of Stranraer Football Club every week, and hopes that a return north will allow him to see his team in action more often.

"I hope to see more of the town generally," he added.

"I will be looking to come down and see my family, as well as for operations in Dumfries and Galloway."

Speaking at their Stranraer home, Brigadier McDowall's parents May and David talked of their pride at his appointment. Mr McDowall, who himself served in the forces for 32 years and was Regimental Sergeant Major in the 201 Core Troop Workshops REME, said he found his son's achievement "unbelievable". He said:

"At our national reunion dinners I had Colonels coming up to me and saying how unique it was for a boy to come up through the system from a normal school background as he had.

"Traditionally it is people from private boys' schools who are cultured to fit into the system, but David has done it, and he tells other young ones how they can get on too."

Mrs McDowall said:

"Ever since he was about seven years old, whenever he was asked what he wanted to be, he always said 'soldier'. "He is very modest and would rather stay in the background, and he has a good rapport with his men."

After leaving Stranraer Academy, Brigadier McDowall spent a year at the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Training School, before joining The Royal Corps of Signals, who provide information technology and communications for the British Army. He later became Chief Officer within his Royal Signals unit, and passed out of Sandhurst's Royal Military Academy as top Signals officer.

Having served in Northern Ireland, he became Lieutenant Colonel of the Signals Regiment in Germany, and went on to Bosnia where he succeeded in setting up the army's communications network. At the RAF's staff college he learned about mass communications, and after promotion to Colonel, he was in charge of officer training for the Royal Signals and the Intelligence Core.

Brigadier McDowall will continue as Director of Command and Battlespace Management for the army, before he takes up his new role in Edinburgh.

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