The Archbishop of York has sent a message of support to troops separated from their families this Christmas, describing them as "real heroes".
Dr John Sentamu said the country owed a "massive debt of gratitude" to troops serving in countries such as Afghanistan.
He said: "You are the best and bravest servicemen in the world."
The Archbishop's remarks were made in a specially recorded video message for the Faces for the Forces campaign.
Dr Sentamu, who is the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, added: "It must be so hard to leave the ones you love behind to go out and serve your country - putting your lives at risk on a daily basis to protect our freedoms.
"You are real heroes. We are all very proud of the contribution you are making for our country.
"We will continue to keep you in our thoughts and I pray each and every one of you will return home safely."
The aim of the Faces for the Forces campaign is to collect 500,000 goodwill messages by Christmas.
Other contributors include David Cameron, comedian Dawn French and actor James Nesbitt.