THIRTY-eight people died when a gunman opened fire on tourists in Tunisia on June 26, 2015. Today attack survivor Steve Walls, of Malton, a former soldier, speaks in detail for the first time about his horrific experiences on that day. He wishes to warn readers they may find his story distressing.

“Jacqui and I were on our tenth holiday in Tunisia when the attack happened.

Mid-morning, Jacqui decided to go for a walk along the beach. I stayed on my sun bed listening to Bob Dylan and doing Sudoku. I sat up and removed my earphones and turned Bob off, put down my Sudoku and was immediately greeted with the sounds of automatic gunfire, a burst of approximately one second, immediately followed by two muffled explosions.

I immediately recognised the sound of the weapon. It was an AK47, a popular weapon of the IRA and one I had been taught to recognise in my army training.

On hearing the gunfire, I was no longer a civilian, I was back in the army, thinking like a soldier would. I didn’t fear for my own safety. I knew there would be casualties.

I sprinted down to the beach, wearing only my swimming trunks. I was met by a swarm of people running towards me, shouting: 'Go back, gunmen on the beach!' I kept running, I did not fear for my safety, and I came across my first casualty, who was being helped off the beach by two people.

This Tunisian guy had taken a bullet across his stomach horizontally. A very lucky person. A deep flesh wound approximately eight inches long and at the deepest point approximately three to four inches. I folded up a towel and told one of the people assisting him to keep this on the wound with a little pressure and get off the beach.

I carried on running along the beach, I was looking for Jacqui; I knew she was wearing a red bikini. It was very eerie feeling. Here I was on a beach, in June, on the Mediterranean Sea shore and not a person in sight. And then my nightmare began for real.

I found three men in a tangled heap in a sunbed area, and a woman in a bikini on a sun bed, none of them with any signs of life.

This was my trauma point. I was telling my brain I was looking for Jacqui, but I was also telling myself I didn’t want to find her. It is very difficult to imagine what it does to your senses when you are looking for something but you don’t want to find it. I knew deep down that if she wasn’t on the beach there was a chance she had found safety elsewhere.

I came across three further casualties, a woman between two men, and her right shoulder had suffered a massive gunshot wound. She was conscious but the two men showed no sign of life.

I laid a towel over her wound, I didn’t want to disturb the wound as bleeding was minimal. I felt helpless. I had no first aid kit, no support, and at this point I said a prayer. The first of many that day.

I couldn’t see any other casualties and started running back towards our hotel. A number of shots rang out; I don’t know whether they were aimed at me but I started zigzagging, what soldiers call hard targeting, through the sand.

In the hotel, I went to a service room at the end of a corridor, hit the door with my left shoulder and the frame splintered. I found myself in a very small room where cleaners stored their cleaning materials.

Remembering the words of my survival instructor - use whatever resources are available - I checked some plastic containers and found one with very strong bleach. I placed some into a beaker, and if any gunman had entered the room he would have got it in his eyes.

I positioned myself away from the door, and prayed for my wife, relatives and friends and the victims on the beach. I cried, oh how I cried. I was soaked in sweat. I waited. It was so peaceful, there was no noise whatsoever. I could hear, feel and taste the silence.

I tried to put things into perspective. From laid relaxing on a sun bed in the warm Tunisian sun, a minute later I was counting dead and injured on the beach. Nothing seemed real, and Jacqui was still missing.

I eventually emerged from the room and Jacqui appeared some three hours later, brought to the hotel by a very kind taxi driver.

She had walked past the area moments before the gunman had started his massacre on the beach, heard the gunfire, saw dust and debris flying, realised what was happening and joined a group of people who fled the beach and found safety in The Mouradi Palace Hotel, crawled along a corridor on her hands and knees and found refuge in a hotel bedroom.

I have found that a sense of humour will never fail you in times of stress. Soldiers revert to this when they are heading into the unknown.

As Jacqui walked into the hotel we fell into each other’s arms and had a good cry, and she said afterwards, 'What did you think when I walked in the door of the hotel?' I replied 'Just my ****** luck'.”