RESERVISTS from a North Yorkshire RAF base are among the latest military personnel in the county to be mobilised as part of the build-up for a possible war with Iraq.

A total of 60 reservists from 609 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based at RAF Leeming, have been busy honing their skills after being put on stand-by.

The squadron of part-timers provides ground forces in a "force protection" role, which includes duties such as defending airfields and other installations, but could be called on to fill a range of roles.

Among those preparing for deployment was Flt Lt Jeff Metcalfe, 47, a Lloyds TSB bank manager in York, who lives at Holme-on-Spalding Moor. His wife, Joanne, is expecting their first child in June.

A North Yorkshire Territorial Army soldier was one of more than 100 members of Hull and Leeds-based 150 Transport Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, who are heading for the Reserve Training and Mobilisation Centre at Chilwell, Nottingham, before possible deployment in a theatre of war.

Cpl Tony Hodgson, 35, a TA truck driver, from Thirsk, said: "It's hard on my family. I've got a wife and six children and I could be away for from a few days to a year, but I'm looking forward to it."

Updated: 10:34 Saturday, February 15, 2003