TROOPS from RNAS Yeovilton have made a romantic gesture to their loved ones from 160 miles inside the Arctic Circle.
The service personnel, currently on cold weather survival and tactical training in Bardufoss, Norway, took time out of their busy schedule to send messages back to their nearest and dearest.
Some of the 200-strong team, who are operating in temperatures as low as -30 degrees, have been away since November with only a brief leave period over Christmas to see their wives, girlfriends and children.
At their camp located among a dramatic mountain range, the personnel created a love heart in the thick snow which has blanketed the base.
Western Gazette reporter Rob Golledge and photographer Laura Jones are spending the week in the Scandinavian country with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines of the Yeovilton-based Commando Helicopter Force.
They collected the messages during their visit this week as well as photographing the troops’ loving gesture.
Petty Officer Tim Brookes, 46, of Stoke-sub-Hamdon near Yeovil, is an aircraft engineer with 845 squadron.
In a message to his wife Alex, he said:
“I miss you and the children dearly. I want to wish you a happy Valentine’s day. I hope you receive the special gifts I have sent home and look forward to being back home soon.”
Aircraft engineer Chief Petty Officer Colin Harvey, of Yeovil, said he was looking forward to being reunited with his wife Julie.
“Happy Valentine’s Julie my sweetheart,” he said. I can’t wait to be back and see you. Have a fantastic day and know that I am thinking of you.”
Chief Petty Officer Andy Slater, who lives in Yeovil with his wife of 11 years Tracey, said: “Tracey, I miss you lots and want to wish you happy Valentine’s day. I look forward to being back in your arms soon and I love you lots.”
To his wife Laura, Leading Aircraft Engineering Technician Steve Swannack added: “I can’t wait to be back together. I am sending you all my love and kisses today.”
The Commando Helicopter Force personnel are flying and servicing Sea King helicopters in Norway.
The Army Air Corps 9 Regiment, who will transfer to RNAS Yeovilton over the next few years, are also operating Lynx aircraft at the base this week.
The harsh arctic winter is an ideal training ground for deployment anywhere in the world be it in the air, on land or at sea.
Each year, hundreds of Royal Naval personnel undergo a gruelling survival training regime in Bardufoss as part of what is dubbed Operation Clockwork.
There has been a British military presence in the Norwegian town for the past 42 years.