SPARE a thought for these Chester born and bred soldiers as they keep the peace in the war-torn streets of Iraq as we tuck into our turkey on Christmas Day.
The lads, all from 1 Mercian (Cheshire) Regiment, have just finished their last piece of training in Kuwait before heading off for six months in Iraq.
Members of 4 Mechanized Brigade, the infantrymen headed out to the Middle East last month and have just spent a week getting used to desert conditions.
Final preparations included refresher training on their equipment and daily fitness sessions to get used to the heat.
Ironically, however, temperatures are about to plummet during the Iraqi winter, dropping from a scorching 50 degrees in the summer to nights of around freezing point.
Other training consisted of familiarisation with advanced weapons systems including light machine guns, grenade launchers and new armoured vehicles.
Former Upton High School pupil Major Rob Prentice, whose parents Dot and Robin live in Westminster Park, will be commanding A Company in Baghdad for the first half of the six-month tour, working alongside US forces in protecting diplomats and VIPs.
Major Prentice said: “All the soldiers have been thoroughly trained and are keen to get on with their task in Baghdad.”
Under his command will be Corporal Mark ‘Bugsy’ Malone, whose mum and dad Debbie and Joe live in Handbridge.
Already a veteran of Iraq, Mark said: “Last time I was in Iraq I was operating from Basrah so this time I’m looking forward to seeing Baghdad and working with US soldiers.”
In contrast, platoon commander Lieutenant Simon Pollitt, who hails from Westminster Park, is on his first tour of Iraq. Based in Basrah with B Company, the former King’s School pupil’s tasks will include assisting the Iraqi army.
C Company will be based at the port town of Umm Qasr and among its duties are patrolling nearby villages to ensure the area remains safe and secure for the local population.