| 25 December 2012
Around 9,000 serving men and women are spending Christmas on the frontline this year. The festive period is business as usual for soldiers, sailors and airmen on operations but every effort has been made to offer deployed personnel as much of a traditional Christmas as possible.
As well as tonnes of tinsel and sackloads of Santa hats, 18,000 Christmas crackers and 16,000 streamers and party poppers, the MoD has flown out a whole host of festive food, including:
• Two and half tonnes of turkey;
• One tonne of Brussels sprouts;
• Two and a half tonnes of gammon;
• Two and a half tonnes of Christmas pudding;
• 23,500 mince pies;
• 40,000 After Eight mints; and
• Over 170,000 canapés and buffet items.
Task Force Helmand spokesperson, Major Laurence Roche, said: “Its always tough being away from home at Christmas. We have a job to do here, but we make sure that as many people as possible get to sit down and have a big Christmas lunch. Every effort is made to ensure the troops enjoy the day and in some small way bring a little bit of home to Afghanistan.”
Also away from home this Christmas on operations across the globe are more than 1,000 members of the RAF and almost 5,000 Royal Navy personnel serving on ships and submarines.
Speaking from HMS Edinburgh, currently serving in the South Pacific, Engineering Technician (Weapons Engineer) Chris Hill from Blunsden,Swindon said: “We’ve got a Christmas tree and we’ve put all our presents under it and have had a turkey dinner served to us by the officers for a change. It was good fun and as we’re all away from our families we’re all in the same boat and we do our best to get some Christmas cheer going.”
Wing Commander Stuart Lindsell, is the Officer Commanding 99 Squadron and has volunteered to cover Christmas duties at Brize Norton: “The Squadron is 300 plus strong and moves an immense amount of personal mail and parcels from families and loved ones. It’s rewarding for us to know that we are helping to play a part in connecting service families who are separated over the Christmas period.
WC Lindsell added: “Its very much ‘business as usual’ for 99 Squadron. We have crews covering aeromed standby, a crew based in the Middle East ready for normal tasking, the Squadron engineers stand ready to generate an aircraft at short notice should an aeromed mission be called and they will also be manning the engineer control desks as normal.”
Charity uk4uThanks! were once again Santa’s little helper as they provided over 20,000 Christmas boxes to troops based all over the world. The boxes, containing a host of goodies from business sponsors and bought with money donated from members of the public, were delivered in time to be opened on Christmas Day.