Christmas on tour in Afghanistan for troops

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Troops from the former Staffordshire Regiment, including some from Shropshire, were today preparing to spend their last Christmas in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Soldiers based at Patrol Base Lash Durai, Afghanistan, get into the festive spirit as they prepare for their last Christmas on tour

Just a handful of forward bases remain in Helmand and by the end of next year most British troops will pull out of the war-torn country.

In the Lashkar Gah Durai base, troops today posed in festive costume as they prepared for Christmas. They will mark the day with a series of events, including their own traditional Christmas lunch.

The base is home to some 250 personnel including Shropshire troops from Midland-based 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, which took in the former Staffordshire Regiment.

Lieutenant Stu Lowe, of 3 Mercian, said: "We will go out for the night from Christmas Eve through to Christmas morning so as many as possible get a night off."

A series of events has been organised, such as inter-platoon sports competitions including a memorial rugby match in memory of Warrant Officer Class 2 Warrior Sergeant Major Ian Fisher, from 3 Mercian, who was killed on November 5 when a car packed with explosives hit his Warrior armoured vehicle. The funeral for the Stoke-based soldier was held at Lichfield Cathedral earlier this year.

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