Military photographers’ favourite photos of the Armed Forces in 2023

Ministry of Defence
3 min readDec 22, 2023

Stunning photographs captured by a network of Armed Forces photographers deployed around the world offer a glimpse into the vital work of our military personnel at home and abroad in 2023.

Royal Marines personnel deployed to northern Norway for their 2023 winter deployment, taking part in the infamous cold weather survival course. The week-long expedition gives members of the Armed Forces the basic skills to survive in extreme cold environments.

These breath-taking images depict UK Armed Forces personnel on deployment and taking part in exercises across the globe, undergoing extreme cold weather training in Norway and Estonia, on medical recovery exercises in Cyprus and the Atlantic, and navigating the Indo-Asia Pacific.

Royal Air Force personnel from RAF Odiham undertook the cold weather operators’ course at Soodla Training Area in Estonia. The exercise was part of their deployment to the eastern flank of NATO to help defend our allies in the region.
A Merlin helicopter of 820 Squadron Royal Air Force carries out a winching exercise at sea as part of an exercise in which divers from flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth worked with the medical department to practice casualty recovery by seaboat and helicopter.

Armed Forces photographers also captured landmark national events which the Armed Forces played a role in, including the Coronation of HM King Charles III, the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph, and the State Opening of Parliament.

Members of the Household Division, British Army, march from Westminster Abbey down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace as part of the King’s Coronation in London.

Military photographers play a crucial role in defending their country and capturing the essence of life in the Armed Forces.

Behind every click of the shutter is an individual with a dual identity — foremost as a soldier, sailor, or aviator, and secondly as a skilled photographer.

They deploy not only with their cameras, but also with their rifles.

A British soldier is poised to execute an attack on enemy positions in the setting of a forest, while on exercise in France.

Panay Triantafillides, Editor of Defence Imagery at the Ministry of Defence, said:

Our photographers who are first and foremost sailors, soldiers, and aviators play an essential role in providing accountability and transparency to the public by providing images and videos of defence activity at home and abroad.

The versatility of our photographers is clearly evident in this year’s release. 2023 has been a historic year that has impressed upon us the enduring relationship between the UK Armed Forces and the Royal Family.

The photographs also show unexpected scenes from life serving in the Armed Forces. In one photo, the crew of Royal Navy ship HMS Lancaster is shown diving with turtles off the coast of Oman.

Royal Navy sailors from HMS Tamar are seen here on a beach in Diego Garcia.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles came together to mark Dashain, a major Hindu festival that celebrates the spirit of community with music, singing and prayer.

Almost 7,000 British sailors, soldiers, and aviators will spend Christmas 2023 deployed overseas, sacrificing time with their family and friends to keep their country safe.

At home in the UK, Royal Air Force aviators are ready to scramble Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth to monitor any enemy aircraft which approach UK airspace this Christmas.

HMS Spey is pictured against a backdrop of volcanoes and mountains off the coast of Manila in the Philippines.

Somewhere deep in the ocean, a Royal Navy nuclear attack submarine continues to provide the nation’s nuclear deterrent in a patrol that has continued uninterrupted for 54 years.

Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, a British F-35 Lightning fast jet and a Royal Norwegian Navy submarine took part in an exercise off the coast of Norway in October this year.

And 60 soldiers from the Household Division of the British Army will continue to guard royal palaces in the nation’s capital throughout the Christmas period.

His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty The Queen in the Gold State Coach returning to Buckingham Palace flanked by the Life Guards and The Blues and Royals on the Mall in London.

These photos and thousands of other images and videos are made freely available on the MOD’s Defence Imagery website for the public to view and enjoy.



Ministry of Defence

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