UK & World News
Troops Send Christmas Cheer From Front Lines
British troops stationed at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan have sent Christmas messages back home to their loved ones.
Soldiers serving with the 21 Engineer Regiment wished family and friends a happy festive season, before celebrating with a traditional Christmas lunch and dinner.
Lance Corporal Kane Hollings said: "Big shout out to all my family, my friends, my little dog Bella. I'm sorry I can't be home for Christmas, but I hope you have a good time without me."
Corporal David Allan said: "I'd just like to say Merry Christmas to all my friends and family back home. My mum, my dad, and especially my beautiful wife Cheryl, I miss you and love you and I can't wait to see you in January."
Troops also celebrated the festive season with a Santa sleigh race at Camp Bastion, as some 9,000 troops serving in Afghanistan tried to make the most of a Christmas spent away from their families.
A major logistical effort saw two-and-a-half tons of turkey, 850kg of Brussels sprouts and 350kgs of Christmas pudding flown in for the troops.
Activities such as carol services, pantomime and sporting competitions were also being carried out at many bases.
At Lashkar Gah main operating base, soldiers are expected to take part in the Lash Dash, a Christmas Day fun run with prizes for the best costumes.
Senior-ranking officers are also keeping up with Army tradition by serving squaddies tea and coffee on Christmas morning.
Thousands of balloons, crackers, party poppers and hats have been ordered and around 130 tons of Christmas post has been delivered to Camp Bastion in the last week, to be dished out among bases.
Troops will also share the 23,500 mince pies and 40,000 After Eight mints flown in for the day.
Major Mark Yates, 40, from Manchester, who serves with The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, 1st Battalion, (1 Lancs), has a cameo role in the pantomime production of Aladdin in Lashkar Gah.
"We're all away from our families but we want to make sure we remember Christmas as it is a link with home," he said.
"Many of us have young children and would probably have gone to see a panto at this time of year.
"It's been a bit of fun between work, but not at the cost of any of our operations."