UK troops around the world send Christmas wishes home to loved ones

Personnel from the Royal Air Force’s 903 Expeditionary Air Wing personnel posing in Christmas gear at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus Credit: Ministry of Defence/PA

Thousands of British Armed Forces personnel working around the world have sent Christmas messages home to their loved ones.

UK troops are involved in 35 operations in more than 30 countries from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.

A total of 14 naval vessels will be at sea on Christmas Day, from Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon in the Gulf to Type 23 Frigate HMS Argyll in the Asia Pacific.

In the South Atlantic, more than 1,000 personnel are stationed in the Falkland Islands along with survey ship HMS Protector whilst in the Caribbean, RFA Mounts Bay has been on alert over the hurricane season.

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

Rear Admiral John Weale, head of the Submarine Service, said: "While everybody is enjoying their Christmas, I ask that you remember those submariners we have deployed, we have submarines deployed 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

"They will not be able to dial home this Christmas, so to their family members I wish you all a happy Christmas and to all submariners, thank you and happy Christmas."

Personnel from the Royal Air Force’s 903 Expeditionary Air Wing personnel at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Credit: SAC Phil Dye/RAF/MoD/Crown copyright

In Europe, 150 UK personnel of the Queen’s Royal Hussars are deployed to Poland and about 850 British personnel of the 1 YORKS are in Estonia on NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) deployment.

In Africa, 120 Army troops are deployed to wildlife reserves in Malawi to assist local forces with counter-poaching and halt the population decline of many of Africa’s animals, including elephants, rhinos and lions.

Troops will also be in peacekeeping missions in Somalia and South Sudan.

British troops in Malakal, South Sudan, opening Christmas parcels. Credit: MoD/Crown copyright

In Mali, RAF Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham are supported by around 90 British troops to support French counter-terrorism operations.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "We should all take a moment to think of our armed forces personnel and their families, whose selflessness and support at this time of year is vital.

"This Christmas, like any other day, our servicemen and women will be displaying their unique professionalism around the world and at home.

"To the entire Armed Forces community, I wish you all the happiest possible Christmas and thank you for your remarkable service in 2018."