THE mother of a North Yorkshire soldier out in the Gulf told today of the "absolute hell" her family has been going through since the war started.

Frances Ellerker, who pleaded last week for Britain to rally behind "our boys", says she cannot sleep or eat properly because she is so sick with worry for her son, Daniel.

Mrs Ellerker, of Shipton-by-Beningbrough, near York, said she was regularly waking up at 2am or 3am, and then switched on the TV to see how the war was going.

"We are hooked to the telly," she said. "But some of the things I saw on Sunday I found quite sickening... when they were trying to smoke out or shoot the crew of a plane they thought had crashed in the river in Baghdad. They were like savages baying for blood."

She said her two daughters, Jessica and Anna, and other son, Paul, were also finding it very difficult, particularly when reports came in of British soldiers being killed and they feared it might be Daniel. "When the news comes I am thinking: 'Please God, not mine.' But then I am realising that if it isn't mine that has been killed, it is someone else's son or husband or brother," she said.

"We are just in turmoil," she said. "It has been quite an horrendous weekend. We are living in absolute hell."

She said her son, a driver in the Royal Logistics Corps, had not been able to contact her since he rang her last Monday from Kuwait, and she had no idea where he was, although he was probably somewhere in Iraq.

"It's not knowing how he is feeling. I just hope he is in professional mode and is not worried about us at home."

Mrs Ellerker, who is flying the Union Flag and Stars and Stripes outside her home, said there had still been little public support for the British troops from the people of North Yorkshire - with considerably fewer flags displayed than during the last World Cup.

However, she said she had received some letters of support, and last Friday she had been deeply touched when a woman had arrived on her doorstep with a bunch of roses and a card. "I just burst into tears," she said.