An elderly couple killed in the M40 "wrong way" tragedy were avid caravanners who had travelled around Europe with their mobile home, neighbours revealed today (Tuesday).

John Norton and his partner Olive Howard spent little time at their £700,000 bungalow home sweetly named "Dream cum tru", in High Wycombe, as they regularly embarked on trips around the UK as well as on the continent.

John, aged 80 years, and his 87-year-old partner Olive were both killed just over a week ago when their car and caravan crashed while travelling the wrong way down the M40. A driver whose Ford Mondeo car crashed head-on into them, was also killed.

Today, the couple's red brick home, with its wishing well in the garden, stood empty and deserted as neighbours struggled to come to terms with the pensioners' deaths

Friends living near the couple's home in Church Path, said that Mr Norton and Mrs Howard would frequently travel all over the continent in their caravan and first met more than 30 years ago at a local caravan club.

One neighbour who knew the couple well but did not want to be named, said: “They were kind and gentle - and they had lots of miles under their belt. They had been all over Europe.”

Another resident said: “John was very reserved and Olive was a real chatterbox. This whole thing has come as a shock as they were regular caravanners on the continent. They were very keen on water festivals - they regularly went to Yorkshire with the caravan.

“They would always greet neighbours with a 'hello' if they were out in the front garden and Olive never really spoke about anything in particular - she talked about everything and nothing at once. She was a very keen gardener, always in her garden.

“I believe they were coming back from Yorkshire when they crashed on the M40,” he said.

He knew that the couple had been involved in a another crash just five days before the fatal accident but said that it was apparently only a minor incident.

He added: “I know they had a little shunt in High Wycombe but it was apparently a damage-only accident.”

The couple were described as friendly but generally quiet and neighbours said little was generally known about them. The only relatives they had were believed to be Olive’s sister and niece.

One neighbour added: “They were a very nice couple but they would only every really say ‘hi’ - very much keeping themselves to themselves. They were a close couple. But they were here more than 30 years.

“They originally moved in next to John’s ex-wife, but she’s long deceased now.”

The elderly couple were killed when the car and caravan they were towing the wrong way along the M40 motorway, were just a few miles from their home, crashed into a Ford Mondeo and Ford Focus near junction 6.

Mr Norton was believed to have been at the wheel of his Subaru Forester and towing the caravan when took a wrong turning down the M40 and started travelling southbound along the northbound carriageway.

A number of neighbours cited the Oxford services junction on the M40 as confusing and said they believed that was responsible for their crash after they were heading back from a trip to Yorkshire.

“You can never tell if you’re heading to London or Birmingham” one said.

Dozens of motorists swerved to try to avoid crashing into the car and caravan, many flashing their headlights and blasting their horns. Mr Horton and Ms Howard travelled the wrong way for eight miles before eventually crashing head-on into the approaching Mondeo.

The Mondeo was driven by ex-soldier Stuart Richards, aged 32 years, was also killed instantly in the impact. He had served posts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Royal Engineers.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said that it had taken a week to identify Mr Norton and Mrs Howard because of difficulties in trying to find any relatives.

A spokesman said: "Thames Valley Police can now confirm the identity of two people who died during a collision on the M40 in South Oxfordshire.

"Shortly before 4pm on Monday October 15, the force received reports that a Subaru Forester towing a caravan was travelling in the wrong direction on the northbound carriageway of the M40.

"A few minutes later, the vehicle was subsequently in collision with two other cars, a Ford Mondeo and a Ford Focus near junction 6. The driver and a passenger of the Subaru died," said the spokesman.

"They have been formally identified as John Norton, aged 80 years, and Olive Howard, aged 87 years, both from Church Path, High Wycombe, Bucks.

"The driver of the Ford Mondeo also died. He was formally identified last week as Stuart Richards, aged 32 years, from Stockport, Cheshire, and this has already been confirmed by the force."