Christmas messages home from Scots soldiers serving overseas

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Scottish servicemen and women serving abroad have sent Christmas messages to their loved ones at home.

In total around 5,000 UK sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen, and airwomen, many of them based in Scotland, are serving on operations across the globe from Somalia and South Sudan to Kuwait and Ukraine.

Over 100 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) are currently deployed to Iraq where they are undertaking a training and mentoring role to counter Daesh terrorists.

They set out from their base at Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, near Edinburgh, earlier this month to join more than 600 British soldiers in the country in non-combat roles, helping to train Iraqi forces.

Over the last three years UK forces have helped train over 58,000 Iraqi Security Forces.

Meanwhile the Fife-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are in Cyprus as part of the UN Peacekeeping force.

Also in the Gulf, two Clyde-based Minehunter ships are serving over the festive period.

Among those sending messages from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards was Corporal Paul Musson, based in Cyprus.

“I’d love to say hello to my wife and three kids and I cannot wait to see you in January for your holidays,” he said.

Drum Major Gordon Prescott, also serving in Cyprus, said: “I’m going to be out here for Christmas, so I just thought I’d take this moment to wish my wife, Jill, a happy Christmas, love you loads. Merry Christmas to the rest of the family as well.”

Trooper Robert Knowles, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Cyprus: “Wishing a great Christmas to all my friends and family at home in Scotland.”

Squadron leader Karen Swanston from RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey off Wales, deployed to Afghanistan, said: “I’d like to say a big ‘hi’ to my parents at home in Hawick, my nieces Isobel and Katie. Merry Christmas.”

Commanding Officer, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Lt Colonel Dominic Coombes, said the “regimental family” would look after one another at Christmas.”

“Christmas will always be a bittersweet time for those deployed and their families back at home, but while we miss our loved ones in Scotland and elsewhere, we will come together as a regimental family to make the most of an opportunity to enjoy Christmas as a collective.

“At the same time, we’ll redouble our efforts in our operational role as we go into the New Year and the latter stage of our tour before looking forward to returning home in time for Easter.”

David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “I pay a huge tribute to the brave servicemen and women from across Scotland who are away from their families over the festive period - and throughout the year - to keep us safe.

s“I offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’, commend their professionalism and wish them a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year.”