When Birmingham soldier Tom Williams flew home from Basra he knew he faced a frantic race against the clock.
Waiting for him back in Druids Heath was his pregnant fiancée who was due to give birth to their first child just hours after he touched down in Britain.
But the 23-year-old squaddie’s desperate dash, which saw him board four aeroplanes over 52 hours, was agonisingly late as he received a phone call telling him his baby girl had been born just as he boarded his connecting flight to Birmingham Airport.
Baby Kiera, who was born at Birmingham Women’s Hospital 4.57am on December 5 and weighed six pounds three ounces, will now spend her first Christmas with mum Kellyanne Finnegan, and dad Tom before they move to a new home in Tidworth in August.
Mr Williams, who last year adopted Kellyanne’s eight-year-old son, Callum, said: “When I had the call saying Kellyanne had gone into labour I was in Cyprus where I was supposed to be going through decompression from my time in Iraq.
“I was desperate to get home and be there for the birth and we moved hell and earth so I could get the first flight to Birmingham that was available.
“I was just hoping that things would go our way. I had mixed feelings when I found out she had given birth before I got there.
“I was disappointed that I missed it but elated that I was a father and both Kiera and Kellyanne were fine.
“I’ll never forget the moment when I walked into the hospital, in full uniform, to see Kellyanne holding my daughter.
“It was amazing to see her again after so long, and even more incredible to see my baby girl. It’s a picture I will never forget.”
Kellyanne, aged 27, who works as a pregnancy outreach worker in Northfield, added: “I’d only seen Tom for about three weeks during my pregnancy.
“It was really tough, worrying about him in Iraq while going through a pregnancy at home on my own.
“When I saw him again, and the three of us were together for the first time, it was the best day of my life.”