Twas the before Christmas at HMS Drake

A little something for Christmas Eve courtesy of the “Senior Service”.

Merry Christmas to you all and please spare a thought or prayer for our service personnel spending tomorrow on duty away from home, across the globe.


Merry Christmas

Hi everybody,

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas before I close down for the big day with the little boss.

Thank you all again. 2015 has been an incredible year for the site and it’s all down to the support I get from you guys which has spurred me on to keep going. I have a few plans for 2016 including more museum visits and I have also spoken to a few ex-forces people who would be willing to share their experiences that will open a wholly new dynamic to the site which I am very excited about.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. Don’t forget to take a moment to think of our men and women in the services who are away from home this Christmas giving it their all to protect us. We owe them our admiration, respect and of course our appreciation.

– Tony Wilkins


Jona Lewie’s “Cannot Stop The Cavalry”

There can be no sadder time for the armed forces than when they are away from home at Christmas doing their duty and this song is fundamentally British in that while it is quite cynical it is balanced out by a rather jolly tune – sums British people throughout history really. It is perhaps for this reason, and our national respect toward our armed forces, that this song has become a classic Christmas song.

Hey, Mr. Churchill comes over here
To say we’re doing splendidly
But it’s very cold out here in the snow
Marching to win from the enemy
Oh, I say it’s tough, I have had enough
Can you stop the Cavalry?

I have had to fight, almost every night
Down throughout these centuries
That is when I say, oh yes, yet again
Can you stop the Cavalry?

Mary Bradley waits at home
In the nuclear fall-out zone
Wish I could be dancing now
In the arms of the girl I love

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Wish I was at home for Christmas
Bang, that’s another bomb on another town
While Luzar and Jim have tea
If I get home, live to tell the tale
I’ll run for all presidencies
If I get elected I’ll stop- I will stop the Cavalry

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Wish I was at home for Christmas
Wish I could be dancing now
In the arms of the girl I love
Mary Bradley waits at home
She’s been waiting two years long
Wish I was at home for Christmas

The Christmas Truce 1914


The Christmas Truce

by Carol Ann Duffy

Christmas Eve in the trenches of France, the guns were quiet.
The dead lay still in No Man’s Land –
Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .
The moon, like a medal, hung in the clear, cold sky.

Silver frost on barbed wire, strange tinsel, sparkled and winked.
A boy from Stroud stared at a star
to meet his mother’s eyesight there.
An owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse.

In a copse of trees behind the lines, a lone bird sang.
A soldier-poet noted it down – a robin holding his winter ground –
then silence spread and touched each man like a hand.

Somebody kissed the gold of his ring;
a few lit pipes;
most, in their greatcoats, huddled,
waiting for sleep.
The liquid mud had hardened at last in the freeze.

But it was Christmas Eve; believe; belief thrilled the night air,
where glittering rime on unburied sons
treasured their stiff hair.
The sharp, clean, midwinter smell held memory.

On watch, a rifleman scoured the terrain –
no sign of life,
no shadows, shots from snipers, nowt to note or report.
The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain.

Then flickering flames from the other side danced in his eyes,
as Christmas Trees in their dozens shone, candlelit on the parapets,
and they started to sing, all down the German lines.

Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised
by falling shells, or live to tell, heard for the first time then –
Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schläft, einsam wacht …

Cariad, the song was a sudden bridge from man to man;
a gift to the heart from home,
or childhood, some place shared …
When it was done, the British soldiers cheered.

A Scotsman started to bawl The First Noel
and all joined in,
till the Germans stood, seeing
across the divide,
the sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died.

All night, along the Western Front, they sang, the enemies –
carols, hymns, folk songs, anthems, in German, English, French;
each battalion choired in its grim trench.

So Christmas dawned, wrapped in mist, to open itself
and offer the day like a gift
for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …
with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.

Frohe Weinachten, Tommy! Merry Christmas, Fritz!
A young Berliner, brandishing schnapps,
was the first from his ditch to climb.
A Shropshire lad ran at him like a rhyme.

Then it was up and over, every man, to shake the hand
of a foe as a friend,
or slap his back like a brother would;
exchanging gifts of biscuits, tea, Maconochie’s stew,

Tickler’s jam … for cognac, sausages, cigars,
beer, sauerkraut;
or chase six hares, who jumped
from a cabbage-patch, or find a ball
and make of a battleground a football pitch.

I showed him a picture of my wife. Ich zeigte ihm
ein Foto meiner Frau.
Sie sei schön, sagte er.
He thought her beautiful, he said.

They buried the dead then, hacked spades into hard earth
again and again, till a score of men
were at rest, identified, blessed.
Der Herr ist mein Hirt … my shepherd, I shall not want.

And all that marvellous, festive day and night, they came and went,
the officers, the rank and file, their fallen comrades side by side
beneath the makeshift crosses of midwinter graves…

… beneath the shivering, shy stars
and the pinned moon
and the yawn of History;
the high, bright bullets
which each man later only aimed at the sky.

Royal Navy Spoof John Lewis Christmas Advert

It has become a tradition for major UK retailers in recent years to battle for the accolade of the Christmas advertisement. Undoubtedly the reigning champion the past few years has been the John Lewis store. Well the crew of HMS Daring have spoofed the latest advert about a lonely penguin.

Well done guys.


“Defence of the Realm” Goes Festive

As we are well and truly in to the month of December I felt it was only fitting that the site take on a more festive look with a series of Christmas themed images for the site’s headers. We should all take a minute over Christmas to remember those serving our country away from home and remember those who won’t be coming home again.