Thousands of Armed Forces personnel are working across the globe to help keep Britain safe at home and abroad have begun to send Christmas messages home…

Whilst families at home celebrate Christmas, UK troops are involved in 35 operations in more than 30 countries across the world in multiple time zones from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.

In total 14 Naval vessels will be at sea from Type 45 Destroyer HMS Dragon in the Gulf to Type 23 Frigate HMS Argyll in the Asia Pacific. Since 1969 the UK has had a submarine on patrol for every minute of every day, providing the UK’s nuclear deterrent and this Christmas is no different.

In the South Atlantic, over 1000 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 and remains overseas.

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

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.”

Head of the Submarine Service Rear Admiral John Weale said: “While everybody is enjoying their Christmas I ask that you remember those submariners we have deployed, we have submarines deployed 24/7, 7 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.”

The Armed Forces will also be busy at home. As ever the Squadrons of the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert will be on duty at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Coningsby, many of them ready in their green flight suits waiting for the call to scramble and protect UK airspace. Also on duty at home will be troops of the Household Division keeping guard outside Royal residences in London and Windsor.

In Europe, 150 UK personnel of the Queen’s Royal Hussars are deployed to Poland and around 850 British personnel of the 1 YORKS are in Estonia on NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence 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. In Mali RAF Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham are supported by around 90 British troops to support French counter-terrorism operations.