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Thousands of Armed Forces personnel who are working across the globe to help keep Britain safe at home and abroad have begun to send Christmas messages home. 

Whilst families at home celebrate Christmas, UK troops are involved in 35 operations in more than 30 countries across the world in multiple time zones from Somalia and South Sudan to Estonia and Afghanistan. 

Royal Navy officers serving sailors their Christmas dinner as is traditional.

In total 14 Naval vessels will be at sea from Type 45 Destroyer HMS Defender and Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose in the Gulf to survey ship HMS Enterprise in the Pacific. Since 1969 the UK has had a submarine on patrol for every minute of every day, providing the UK’s nuclear deterrent and this Christmas is no different.

In the South Atlantic, over 1,000 personnel are stationed in the Falkland Islands. Whilst in the Caribbean, RFA Mounts Bay has been on alert over the hurricane season and remains overseas.

In total around 11,000 sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and airwomen are serving on operations overseas.

901 Expeditionary Air Wing, opening their Operation Christmas Box tins as donated by a UK based charity.

“Over the festive period we should all take a moment to be grateful for the selflessness of our armed forces personnel and their families at this time of year. This Christmas, like any other day, our servicemen and women will be displaying their unique professionalism around the world and at home.I know from my own experience what it is like to “stag on” over Christmas and New Year and my thoughts are with all who are not at home with their families at this time. To the entire Armed Forces community, I wish you all the happiest possible Christmas and thank you for your remarkable service in 2019.” 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace

The Armed Forces will also be busy at home. As ever the Squadrons of the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert will be on duty at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby, many of them ready in their green flight suits waiting for the call to scramble and protect UK airspace. Also on duty at home will be troops of the Household Division keeping guard outside Royal residences in London and Windsor. 

The Royal Logistic Corps post worker Lance Corporal (LCpl) Lenachan, at 901 Expeditionary Air Wing in the Middle East.

LCpl Lenachan is shown sorting through the Christmas post

“As the year in which we commemorate 50 years of the Continuous at Sea Deterrent closes, our deployed submariners continue to deliver an outstanding service, as they have done for the past 50 years, over another Christmas with no contact with their loved ones. I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and a big thank you and well done to all Submariners and their families, whether at home or on operations.” 

Commodore Jim Perks, Commodore of the Faslane Flotilla

Currently around 1000 personnel from all three services are stationed in Iraq and RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus working to fight Daesh and train the local security forces. Almost 1,000 personnel from all three services are in Afghanistan training our allies. 

In Europe, 150 UK personnel of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are deployed in Poland and around 850 British personnel of the Queen’s Royal Hussars are deployed in Estonia on NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) deployment offering reassurance to our Allies. The Prime Minister visited the base in Estonia on Saturday to celebrate Christmas with the troops based there.

© Crown Copyright 2019

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