BRITISH troops in Afghanistan will enjoy a £20-a-head slap-up Christmas meal this year – with every ingredient flown 5,000 miles from the UK to Helmand.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it has spent £200,000 on a well-deserved turkey-and-all-the-trimmings meal for 10,000 British personnel battling the Taleban.
In a remarkable logistical operation, planned over several months, every brussel sprout, turkey and mince pie, has been sourced within the UK and then ferried by road to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
From there, giant transporter jets took the ingredients on a seven-hour journey across much of Europe andAsia.
And after landing at the airbase in Kandahar, the seasonal supplies were carried by a fleet of trucks and helicopters to destinations throughout Helmand.
The makings of the Christmas dinner include 8,225 pork pies, 29,700 canapes and around 100kg of Cranberry sauce.
There will be a total of 3.5 tonnes of UK-produced turkey made up of 60 19kg cases of whole turkeys and 2.5 tonnes of turkey breast.
On the side, there will be 2.5 tonnes of gammon, 2.5 tonnes of potatoes and a tonne of Brussels sprouts.
For after, 150 cases of Christmas puddings, 60,000 After Eight mints and 18,000 mince pies have been flown out.
Commodore Clive Walker, in charge of joint logistical support until leaving in November, said: “We aim to deliver provisions to provide every UK Service personnel and civilian with a Christmas dinner on Christmas Day.
“It is the starkest time, the time you miss your family the most.
“Everybody loves being there on Christmas Day, opening their presents with their loved ones.
“But we can’t all go home, in which case we have to try and do something which is appropriate, which recognises the contribution from the family.
“There’s also the tradition that officers have to serve their men, which can be difficult especially if you have to carve a turkey.”
Naval Logistician Lieutenant Commander Stefan Gershater, 33, took over from the Commodore in planning the Christmas meals.
He said: “You let yourself think about your family obviously, you mustn’t forget the families who are at home, for them it’s harder in some ways because you’re here, doing your job.”
Warrant Officer Simon Macey, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, is a trained chef and part of the Royal Logistic Corps.
Dubbed the ‘flying chef of Afghanistan’, he is responsible for the front line feeding of most of the troops based in Helmand.
He has also to complete his plan for the upcoming Christmas Day lunches.
He said: “Our plan is to get around to all the checkpoints within Task Force Helmand, even the ones that are really difficult to reach, and serve them with a proper roast turkey lunch with all the trimmings, followed by traditional Christmas pudding, minus the brandy butter of course.”
A MoD spokeswoman said: “All festive food for personnel spending Christmas in Afghanistan is delivered from the UK to Helmand and costs approximately £20 per person.”