Christmas Day 2010 marked by UK troops in Afghanistan

Media caption,
British soldiers serving in Afghanistan enjoying some festive touches

British troops have marked Christmas in Afghanistan for the 10th time since operations there began.

About 9,500 servicemen and women are currently stationed in the country, mostly in Helmand province, and many have eaten a Christmas meal.

Troops were given two tonnes of turkey, one and a half tonnes of gammon, one and a half tonnes of Brussels sprouts, the Ministry of Defence said.

There was also a tonne of Christmas pudding and 15,000 mince pies.

And the Band of The Parachute Regiment is touring Afghanistan over Christmas and New Year to boost morale.

Sgt Rupert Frere, 30, of the Royal Logistic Corps, said: "Being deployed at Christmas is always difficult for any soldier, and it's particularly hard for me this time as a new dad with my wife and daughter back at home in Colchester.

"But it's a great comfort knowing that the Army, and the other services, do what they can to make Christmas as fun as it can be for the boys and girls out here."

Image caption,
Every effort was made to make Christmas Day as special as possible for the troops in Afghanistan

Another soldier, based in Lashkar Gah, told the BBC: "I had a fantastic lunch. It was brilliant - not quite as good as mum would have cooked at home, but nearly there."

Festive touches of tinsel and decorations were on display in communal areas and accommodation tents.

Although the main camps and forward operating bases are equipped with canteens and catering facilities, service personnel on the front line in the outlying bases faced more austere conditions.

Col Andrew Jackson, deputy commander of Task Force Helmand, told BBC News: "It is another day in Helmand.

"It is not an Afghan festival in any way but, of course, for us it is a very special time of year and so we do make the effort for those who can spare the time from patrols to actually get a bit of a special occasion."

In addition to their meal, troops also received packages from loved ones and 22,500 Christmas boxes from charity UK4U Thanks! containing gifts such as juggling balls, playing cards and sewing kits.

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