AN ARMY veteran has told of the moment he took shelter in a church while fighting against Russian forces in Ukraine.

Paul Buckland is in the war-torn country working as part of an anti-tank team.

Describing the situation as terrible, the ex-serviceman and grandfather from Boyatt Wood has been shot at and shelled.

The 54-year-old recently flew from Bournemouth Airport to Krakow, Poland.

And for the past few weeks has been doing humanitarian work at the Medyka border crossing with Ukraine, building shelters and helping evacuees who he says are ‘99 per cent women and children’.

He has sent video footage of himself packing his kit - including body armour - before setting off for Kyiv, where President Putin's forces are closing in.

Having previously served in the British Army, he is now fighting in a team alongside a ‘couple of Americans, a German, and a guy from up near Gatwick’.

Paul has shared photos with the Echo from the conflict zone including road barricades and units of Ukrainian conscripts.

READ MORE: Mum's anguish as she loses contact with son in Ukraine

One of his images shows the inside of a church where he ‘slept one night and came under rocket attack from Belarus’.

In another, queues of refugees can be seen outside Lviv station awaiting transport to Poland and ultimately safety.

Meanwhile, in footage sent to the Daily Echo, he shows his combat gear and body armour.

Daily Echo: Paul Buckland.Paul Buckland.

On Thursday, Paul and his team embarked on a nine-hour train journey from Lviv, near the Polish border, to the Ukrainian capital.

It is reportedly too dangerous to travel by road due to improvised explosive devices (IED) and ‘Russian assassins lining the road”.

“We take rounds coming through on these trains sometimes,” Paul said.

READ MORE: Southampton students hold vigil for the people of Ukraine

Commenting on what made him set out for the eastern European country he said: “Seeing the decimation and the faces of those poor women and children being evacuated from warzones... in a country they thought was theirs. They didn’t deserve this.

“I’ve been at home for a while and I just thought I’d utilise my skillset and get out here and see what I could do to help these people.”

In Hampshire, Paul says he does what he “needs to do to survive..sell the odd car/watch”.

He says he has an “ex-wife, two kids and a grandkid on the way” and “two other children in north Wales as well, four grandkids up there”.

Daily Echo: Roadblocks on the road near Lviv.Roadblocks on the road near Lviv.

When he was asked what they thought about his decision to go to Ukraine he said: “They know that I’m a man of my own decisions and irrespective of the way they feel, they know this is a just cause.

“They know that if I was going somewhere just to go and be a hired gun it would be a different matter.

“There are people here who are in a much worse position than myself.”

READ MORE: 'Use every sanction': MPs call for action as Russia invades Ukraine

He added: “It’s not a nice place. It’s dangerous, it’s difficult, it’s cold. It’s not the best-organised place.

“We are just going to see what we can do here to alleviate the situation. It is what it is.

“We’re not going to be able to change the direction of the war ourselves but maybe as part of a unit down there, then we can help keep them [the Russians] out of Kyiv centre and maybe diplomacy and diplomatic means will start taking effect.”

Daily Echo: Ukrainian conscripts.Ukrainian conscripts.

And when asked how long he would stay in Ukraine, Paul said: “Until all my crisps run out. I’m not sure.

“It’s an open-ended question.

“I’m going to be here until I don’t think that I’m going to be able to positively affect the direction of this conflict.

“I’m not here to make friends, I’m not here to be a hero.

“I’m just here to try to move this conflict in a direction that is the just direction. The way that’s right.

READ MORE: Southampton couple back in UK after fleeing Ukraine war

“Too much bad [stuff] happening and it’s eye-opening [stuff] that unless you’ve been in conflict you wouldn’t be able to process.

He said: “We are off back to Kyiv to be part of an anti-tank team.

“I have currently been splitting my time between doing Humanitarian work at The Medyka border crossing between Ukraine and Poland building shelters and helping evacuees which are 99 per cent women and children.

“Last week I was part of a team engaging the Russians at Vinnytsia and Kyiv and helping to evacuate injured and vulnerable people.

Daily Echo: Paul speaking to the Daily Echo via a video call. Paul speaking to the Daily Echo via a video call.

“This whole thing is emotionally upsetting and eye-opening but makes you feel good at the end of the day irrespective of whether it’s a church floor or an underground platform.

“I’m not here to be a hero but I have transferable skills that suit this situation although they’re a smidge rusty.

“Really can’t stress enough how much we need basic medical supplies, body armour and helmets.”

READ MORE: Southampton man and pregnant wife flee Ukraine

Members of the armed forces have been urged not to go to Ukraine with the Government fearing such actions could drag the UK into the conflict.

However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has recently told Russian leaders that their invasion will backfire, by landing them in court and making their people hate them.

“You will definitely be prosecuted for complicity in war crimes,” Mr Zelensky said in a video released on Thursday.

The West has slapped harsh financial and economic sanctions on Russia because of the invasion, and the Ukrainian leader said the consequences will be felt by all citizens.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents