A SOLDIER who survived the war in Iraq was killed in a motorway crash as he travelled home on leave to see his family.
Gunner Paul Welch, of Willows Lane, Accrington, had just returned to Britain after seeing action in Basra with the Royal Artillery and was looking forward to seeing his friends and relatives for the first time since Christmas.
But the 25-year-old died when his black BMW 316 left the carriageway of the M1 at Misterton, Leicestershire, and crashed into trees.
His passenger, Scott Hollows, 20, a member of the same regiment from Whitworth, near Rochdale, was also killed in the smash.
Paul, a former Mount Carmel High School pupil, was based in Germany, and had been a gunner in the Royal Artillery for nearly five years. He had been stationed all over the world and had been involved in peace-keeping duties in Cyprus.
He had a girlfriend of 18 months, Becky, who lives in Southport.
His heartbroken sister Nicola, of Walton Street, Altham West, said: "He loved being in the Army. It was his life. He had been in the Gulf since February and had been writing to us while he was away.
"We are a very close family and he loved coming home on leave. My children Becky and Kayleigh adored him and he had a lot of friends in the area."
Paul was a member of the Army tug-of war-team and took part in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
He was also a keen Burnley supporter, although he did not get to many matches as he preferred to spend time with Becky and his friends and family.
Paul will have a full military funeral on Tuesday. Members of his regiment will fly over from Germany to attend.
A service will be held at St Peter's CE Church, Accrington, followed by burial at Accrington Cemetery.
A senior officer with the Royal Artillery said: "Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. It is a tragic loss to the regiment."
Paul also leaves his parents Kathleen Clark and David Welch, a brother Christopher, grandmother Annie and grandfather Ronnie.
The tragedy is the second to hit the family this year . Paul's grandfather Robert and his grandfather's twin Frank, both from Accrington, died two days apart. They were 76.