Servicemen and women deployed abroad have sent Christmas messages to their families and friends. Thousands of UK Armed Forces personnel, many of them based in Scotland are working across the globe this Christmas to help keep Britain safe at home and abroad. Troops are deployed in a variety of environments and on numerous operations of different natures and scale.
In the Gulf, two Clyde-based Minehunters and other Royal Navy warships are serving over the festive period.
Around 1,000 people are working to fight Daesh day and night, with the majority based in RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. One of them is Senior aircraftman Ross McNab from Glasgow, he said; “I would love to send a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all my friends and family back in the UK, I’ll see you soon.”
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. As you read this a submarine is underwater on patrol. As one submariner based at Clyde said “It will be odd spending Christmas onboard the boat, but the Navy are never off duty and its part of the job. We’ll make sure we do Christmas properly but I will be thinking of my family back home.”
Also sending a message home is Chief Petty Officer David Ramsey from Carrickfergus who is based in Bahrain and will be organising Turkey baguettes for Christmas Brunch. He sent festive wishes to his family back in Edinburgh. Petty Officer Barry Anderson, from Hawick, said: “Us Jocks find Christmas in the sun completely alien, it’s hot, it’s sweaty but we will still make the best of it on board. Can’t wait to send my wife a selfie Christmas card with a Scottish tan.”
In Afghanistan, troops from the Army and other Services are training Afghan National Security Forces and in the South Atlantic, around 1,200 personnel are stationed in the Falkland Islands.
In total 18 ships and submarines and around 4500 sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen, and airwomen are serving on operations across the globe from Somalia and Nigeria to Kuwait and Ukraine.
Troops based in Scotland will be busy at home as well as abroad and as ever the Squadrons of the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert will be on duty at RAF Lossiemouth, many of them ready in their green flight suits waiting for the call to scramble.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
“For our Armed Forces duty never stops and we pay tribute to their unerring determination and professionalism in dealing with the threats Britain faces. This Christmas, like any other day, our brave servicemen and women are securing our skies, patrolling the seas and hitting Daesh terrorists hard. At Christmas, it’s particularly important to take a moment to think of those deployed on our behalf across the globe and to let them know how grateful we are for everything that they do to keep Britain safe.”
Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell said:
“Servicemen and women from across Scotland are serving away from their families this Christmas in their endeavours to protect us – from those in our Army serving in the Middle East or the RAF troops ready for action in Cyprus, to all those aboard Royal Navy vessels from the Gulf to the South Atlantic or those on standby to scramble and protect our airspace. I pay a huge tribute to all those serving our country and keeping us safe at this time of year and throughout the year.
Other messages home from HMS Penzance, a Clyde-based Minehunter included:
Lieutenant A Colman, from Glasgow, said: “With over 90% of UK trade being transported by sea being out here maintaining the freedom of movement of that trade is important. Despite not being at home for Christmas I know that we help maintain that flow home of everything from fuel for heating to the latest Christmas toys. I would rather be at home, but knowing that we do make a difference will make being deployed on Christmas Day a little easier.”
Leading Seaman Crawford Hume, from Irvine, said: “It’s part of the job which I know makes a difference ensuring shipping travels safely. We make the most of it on board but despite how much I like my Ship Mates I’d still rather be tucking into my Mum’s Christmas Dinner.”
Able Seaman Taylor McGlashan, from Kilmarnock, said: “Being away at Christmas is part of the job, however the heat at Christmas is not something we Scots are used to. I much prefer the seasonal cold at this time of year, it makes it feel like Christmas. I will just have to play catch up when I get home.”
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