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"The true heroes are the partners who stay at home and hold the fort whilst you're away"

It's always tough being away from family but for serving personnel separation is a part of service life. After four months away from his family, Corporal Martyn West returned home early from a tour of the Falklands, surprising his young daughters – all of which was captured on film by his wife, Danielle.

I was told there was a possibility I could return home earlier than expected from my tour but it was dependent on a lot of different factors so it wasn't 100%.

Corporal Martyn West and daughter

I was away for Christmas which was really difficult, the girls went to family and had it there. They left the Christmas tree up and presents under it until I was due home at the end of January.

Danielle and I kept it to ourselves for just over one month to save any disappointment if it didn't come off.

We carried on as normal with the kids pretending I was returning home on the normal date. It was hard at times especially when my youngest daughter kept calling me saying, "Please come home Daddy, I miss you so much," but it was more than worth it when you see her reaction in the video.

I came home just over three weeks early, which is a huge amount of time when you have spent so much time apart.

Family or friends had no idea I was coming home early, so it was a shock for a lot of people. We didn't really plan how we were going to do it but it just so happened that the kids were sitting down as I tapped on the glass door.

As you can see from the video it was huge surprise for the kids. I think the eldest thought something was wrong but as soon as I knocked on the glass you can see her relief. The youngest was holding her new baby rabbit and didn't seem to believe what was happening. She wouldn't leave my side the whole night and kept following me everywhere.

The toughest thing about being away from your family is lack of contact with loved ones. Don't get me wrong – it has improved hugely over the years and things like FaceTime and Skype help but computer screens don’t hug back. It's the feeling of not being able to help with little things like loading the dishwasher or making the Mrs a cuppa.

The girls are used to me going away now. The scary thing is it's become the norm – when they see my OPS bags come out they know I'm going away. Danielle is our rock and she keeps everything running smoothly when I'm not there.

The true heroes are the partners who stay at home and hold the fort whilst you're away.

This Father's Day I'm deploying on a field exercise in the morning so we will make it special on a different day - quite a common thing in a military home – I had Christmas in late January this year!

Watch Corporal Martyn West surprise his daughters

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