CHRISTMAS was well worth the wait for Captain Charlie Duffield, who has returned home after spending the festive period on duty in Afghanistan.
Captain Duffield, 27, serves with the Royal Army Medical Corps and is assigned to the Scots Guards. But instead of sharing a traditional Christmas with his family and beloved dog Luna in Shillingford, he was on standby at Camp Bastion, for British and Afghan casualties.
He said: “It was a bit a strange to know that everyone was at home around the table without me at Christmas, but Christmas at Bastion with the troops was good too, with great food. And now it’s lovely to be back to a soft bed, a nice sofa and some long, hot baths.”
On Christmas Eve, Charlie’s family, including his parents Ginny, 57, and Grahame, 66, told the Oxford Mail they would be keeping up their tree, dishing up a second Christmas meal and even keeping bubbly on ice until January, for some belated festive celebrations.
Capt Duffield finally returned home on January 6, and has now had the Christmas lunch with his loved ones he missed out on.
He said: “I have a great family and it’s lovely to be back with them, even for a short time, and they have made a real fuss of me.
“I am also enjoying running along the river again, instead of on a treadmill every day. Plus catching up with friends and also walking our dog Luna.”
His mother said: “Christmas was fun, with our other children – Rory, 23, Jamie, 28 , and Rosie, 20 – and my sister Diane. “But we all missed Charlie terribly, especially when it came to laughs and enjoying board games.
“I picked him up from Brize Norton last week and having not seen him since he left for Afghanistan in September it was very emotional. I’m so glad to have him home safe again and to finally give him his Christmas presents and some festive treats.”
Ex-Pangbourne College pupil Charlie joined the Army at 17 and trained as a doctor.
A talented rower, he was in the Pangbourne College ‘eight’ which won the Princess Elizabeth Cup at Henley Regatta in 2003, and also competed in the Junior Olympics in Portugal in 1984.
During his R&R he has been interviewed for a post which will involve two years of Army training as an anaesthetist.
He said: “If I get the job, I would love to stay in the Army long-term. Being in Afghanistan I have seen some serious injuries, both British and Afghan. But while it has been a sobering experience, it has been great to be able to serve there.”
After just 10 days leave, Capt Duffield will return to Afghanistan on Wednesday until March.
And as he explained, his special treatment from the media will mean a heavy ‘fine’ from his Army comrades.
He said: “Apparently if you appear in the media you have to buy a bottle of Champagne in the bar when you get back – so I guess I’d better prepare for that.”