CAPTAIN Russ Edmonds may have been stationed in war-torn Basra on Christmas Day — but the Accrington soldier still managed a turkey dinner and just one celebratory drink.
The 30-year-old, of Manchester Road, Accrington, is serving in the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment on a six-month stint helping to train the Iraqi army.
The festivities began at 6.30am with Russ and the platoon sergeant taking sausage and egg baps and coffee around to the soldiers who were guarding the divisional headquarters.
Russ, who used to play for Accrington Cricket Club, Enfield Cricket Club and Accrington Amateurs football team, told the Observer: "The soldiers really appreciated them because night-time temperatures are around zero. There is a big difference between the temperatures during the day and the evening."
Soldiers were relieved of guard duties at 10am and given the remainder of the day off to relax together. Their duties were covered by officers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers.
At 4pm everyone sat down for their traditional Christmas dinner, pulled a few crackers and savoured the one can of beer they were allowed.
Entertainment was laid on and a speech was given by company commander Major Unsworth.
The platoon then settled down to gorge themselves on the remainder of the chocolate and biscuits from their parcels before getting ready for an early start the following morning."
Russ added: "All the soldiers have received an excellent response from the public. Not only have families and friends taken full advantage of the free Royal Mail parcels to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the general public has done the same.
"We have received an enormous number of well wishes in the form of cards and parcels and it’s interesting when those people, often with no link to the armed forces at all, insert a bit about their life which makes it all the more personal.
"The response from the British public supporting the troops on operations has been nothing short of first class and it is a massive boost to everyone’s morale.
"We are now guarding the main camp for a few more days before returning to other operations."
Copies of the Observer are now posted out to Basra on a weekly basis so our Hyndburn lads can catch up on what’s happening in their home town.
Russ’s mum Ann is married to the Rev Kevin Logan, vicar of Christ Church, Accrington.