MAY 13: LANCE Corporal Andy Brown stepped straight off the coach and into the arms of his partner Rachael Carliss, 30.

The couple share a house in Abbey Meads and have been together for 12 years.

Both say it was fantastic to be reunited after 10 weeks apart.

L/Cpl Brown, 30, an engineer said: "It feels amazing to be back. I have missed Rachael and I have missed the food I lived on rations for months so I cannot wait to get back to my own home and have some chips."

The couple bought a new house shortly before L/Cpl Brown left at the start of March and Rachael says it has been difficult coping without him.

She said: "It sounds like an old clich but when Andy was gone I realised that without the people a house is just a shell. I could choose colours and do some DIY but I was very lonely.

"The hardest part was watching the 24-hour news reports on TV and seeing attacks but not knowing whether Andy had been hurt."

L/Cpl Brown served as part of the policing force in the village of Al-Querna after crossing Iraq's border with Kuwait in a convoy of Land Rovers.

He says the experience of entering Iraq was "scary but exciting".

"We all had the feeling we could come under attack at any moment," he said.

"There were a lot of locals in the street and with such a big crowd it is difficult to tell if they are friendly or hostile.

"We were not in danger from them but they have a habit of firing their weapons in celebration as well as anger so you never really knew."