PHOTOGRAPHER; Cpl Pete Murray
LOCATION;HQ MND(SE) IRAQ
PICTURED; Members of 4th Aroured Brigade
Under the watchful eye of a Christmas tree donated by the Danish Battalion, a choir representing every nation in the multinational division (SE) in Basrah sang carols to a respectful gathering of sailors and soldiers and airmen, in the airport hotel built under the former regime.
Thousands had earlier sat down to a traditional turkey roast followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies before opening their Christmas boxes donated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Every Christmas celebrations in theatre must be tempered by operational commitments. This year is no exception. Most soldiers will get at least half a day off, some a full day over a two day period Christmas Eve to Christmas day. Other events have also been organised like quizzes, talks and sports events.
The service itself started with a candlelit procession across the Basrah Camp whilst a thunder storm raged above. But spirits weren’t dampened by the weather. Traditional military headdress was replaced for one night only, with seasonal santa hats and the parade itself was guided to the altar by fluorescent green cyalumes. (military aircraft fluorescent lights).
Captain Fi Peebles, Army Educator, who read the second lesson from Luke 2 8-20, said:
“This is my first Christmas away with the Army, and although I do miss my loved ones, everybody here has tried to make it a very special celebration, certainly one I shall remember for a long time.”
The service had a sombre mood but a positive message as the Padre urged everyone to remember their part in bringing the people of Iraq hope after decades of despair and misery.
“Christmas is always a time for reflection,” said Padre Clinton Langston, senior Chaplain with the famous Desert Rats of 4 Armoured Brigade. “Let us remember the carols we sing tonight join us to our loved ones who are so close to our hearts.”
Notes to Editors
For further information please contact Squadron Leader Sean McFettridge, Press and Information Centre at Basrah Air Station, Tel: 00964 7801096097.