A SOLDIER who survived an explosion in Afghanistan has made a 28-hour dash home from the frontline for “the best Christmas present ever” – the arrival of his first child.

Cpl James Grundy, of the Royal Engineers, found out he was a father when he phoned his wife Lisa and heard his new son Oscar crying in the background.

Cpl Grundy rang from the United Arab Emirates during his marathon journey back to North Yorkshire and heard his newborn son over the phone.

Cpl Grundy, from Selby, who is known as Jay, was wounded in an explosion in May 2010 but deployed back to the Middle East with his unit in September.

He originally expected to be back at the family’s new home in Ripon, where they live in married quarters, in time for the birth, as Oscar was due to be born on December 29. But Lisa’s Caesarean birth was brought forward to last Friday – meaning the whole family, including Lisa’s seven-year-old son Jermaine, will be together for Christmas Day.

“When I called home and heard Oscar, I’ve never been so proud in my life,” said Cpl Grundy, who married Lisa in June this year.

“I went straight to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton when I got back to England, and I can’t explain how it felt the first time I held Oscar,” he said.

“It’s just one of those life-changing moments. He is absolutely gorgeous – the best Christmas present we could ever have asked for.

“We’re just all so happy that he’s here and we can have our first Christmas together straight away.”

Cpl Grundy was injured two years ago when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in near Lashkar Gah was destroyed by an improvised explosive device, leaving him with broken cheekbones and a broken upper jaw and needing metal plates to be fitted in his face. The driver, Sapper Daryn Roy, was killed.

Cpl Grundy was originally due to fly back to the UK yesterday but was able to secure an earlier flight when news of Lisa’s Caesarean came through. He will now have an extended period of leave with Lisa, Oscar and Jermaine.

Since his return to Afghanistan, he has served mainly in Camp Bastion, although he has left the base on patrols in armoured vehicles and helicopters.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything better for Christmas than for Jay to be back home and for Oscar to have been born in time,” said Lisa.

“He got back when Oscar was just 24 hours old, so it will be a really special Christmas – it has all come together perfectly.”

Lisa said that, as well as spending time with Oscar, Jay has other plans for his leave period.

“I know he’s hoping to go to a Leeds United match with Jermaine while he’s home – I think he’s missed Leeds more than he’s missed us.

“He’s going to be my little servant for the two weeks when he gets back, which he’s happy with.

“Jay’s been out of Bastion a few times, and feels like he’s really doing his job. He’s been out there for three months so he’s ready for his R&R break now, but he prefers being out rather than being in an office, so he said he’s really enjoyed getting back into it properly.”