Taliban blows up lorry of Christmas turkeys for British troops
The frozen birds were completely destroyed in an explosion on route from Pakistan to Camp Bastion.
The consignment of turkey roll breasts weighing 325kg was intended for troops stationed at Britain's main base in Helmand Province, where up to 3,000 soldiers will spend the festive season.
But the Christmas dinner will still be going ahead after the Ministry of Defence flew out replacement birds ensuring soldiers will not miss out on their special meal.
Regimental Catering Warrant Officer Nick Townley, who is in charge of organising Christmas dinner for British troops in Afghanistan, said: "Unfortunately one of our Christmas wagons got taken out so a lot of turkeys had to be flown in especially."
The 33 year old from High Wycombe has been preparing for Christmas since the summer, ordering everything needed to feed the 2,500 to 3,000 troops that will be at Bastion as well as the 2,000 others stationed around Helmand.
On Christmas Day soldiers at the base will be able to tuck into the replacement turkey rolls as well as 135kg of roast pork, 424kg of gammon and 67.5kg of beef, topped off with 200 jars of cranberry sauce.
Brussels sprouts will not be left off the menu - chefs will be preparing 62 boxes weighing a total of 148.8kg.
There will also be 300kg of roast potatoes and 120kg of carrots.
And there will be 222 Christmas puddings, 37 Christmas cakes, and one mince pie and one After Eight mint each.
The total cost of feeding the troops in Bastion's four dining rooms is £10,265 or just £3.42 each.
But there will be no brandy for the Christmas sauce, with Camp Bastion a dry area.
"It wouldn't have made it in there anyway," WO Townley joked.
As is traditional in the Army, senior officers will serve the junior ranks first to show their appreciation.
The 35 chefs at Bastion, who never have a day off, will prep as much of the food as possible on Christmas Eve so they are not rushed off their feet on the day.
"We will have everything prepared for Christmas Eve. The plan is for the guys not to slog their guts out on Christmas Day," WO Townley said.
"If guys get days off it means the others have to work even harder." Special meals are also being sent out to the 10 Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) where there are another 35 chefs.
WO Townley said: "The only blokes who won't get it are the ones in the PBs (patrol bases) but the idea is to rotate them through the FOBs.
"They will all get their Christmas dinner at some stage, it just might not be on Christmas Day."
He added: "It's a big struggle to get this stuff out. Not all the bases have fridges and freezers and transporting it all is a big operation."
Soldiers out in the PBs often face the worst of the insurgency and the harshest living conditions.
They live off ration packs, have little in the way of washing or toilet facilities and often come under Taliban attack.
Some have labelled Camp Bastion "Camp Easy" or "Slipper City".
All British soldiers will receive a Christmas box, which includes a multi-tool, three juggling balls, a sewing kit and a travel pillow.
And they will also receive crackers, party poppers and balloons.
For Camp Bastion WO Townley has ordered 3,000 crackers, 2,880 party poppers, 3,600 assorted balloons, 2,880 party hats, and 3,000 streamers.
"There's a lot of guess work in our job because we never know how many people we will be feeding.
"My job is all about trying to guess what's coming up around the corner."
The attack on the truck load of turkeys, which took place about a month ago, is one thing he did not see coming.
Commander Paula Rowe, spokewoman for Task Force Helmand, said: "Christmas Day will be business as usual for most of us - operations will be ongoing and we will continue to build on the progress that has been made so far in providing better security for the Afghan people - but never underestimate the ingenuity of the men and women to at least have a little bit of festive cheer, wherever they are!
"The chefs work non-stop to provide the best they can for everyone and often create a lot from very little - their efforts often go unnoticed and unrecognised, but their contribution is essential to the morale and wellbeing of us all.
"However we spend the day, our thoughts will inevitably turn to our colleagues who have been killed or injured and their families and loved ones for whom this Christmas will be very different."
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