THE family of a York soldier serving in Iraq have spoken of their pride in his mission - after they saw him in action on camera.

Signaller Dave Benson, of Haxby, who is in the 216 Air Assault Signals Squadron, was pictured in a national newspaper in a dramatic pose in front of a burning oil well in Southern Iraq.

His father, Nigel, mother, Sue, and sisters, Fae, 16, and Sophie, 13, said they were all proud of his work out in the Gulf - while also apprehensive about the future.

Nigel, himself a former Signaller as well as an ex-policeman with the North Yorkshire force, said: "I am immensely proud. Obviously, there's a great deal of apprehension. I am particularly worried about biological and chemical weapons. I think Saddam has got them and I think the Republican Guard are liable to use them in the last ditch.

"But I am 100 per cent behind the effort and think it's absolutely right."

He said he believed that while Saddam might not pose an immediate threat, he feared he would pose one "to our children and grandchildren". He also believed Saddam was increasingly connected to international terrorism.

Nigel said he felt the anti-war campaigners' efforts had been undermined from the time Iraq began using Scud missiles.

"That proved he was lying."

He said he had felt quite nervous when he heard on Monday that two servicemen had gone missing, and been greatly relieved when Sue told him Dave had rung home briefly to say he was fine and feeling quite upbeat.

Sue said her son, a former Joseph Rowntree School pupil, had always wanted to join the army. He had been in the cadets at Strensall and joined up when he was 17. He had served in Macedonia earlier in his career.

She said he had got engaged to a local girl, Angie Wheller, on New Year's Eve, and had celebrated his 21st birthday in February just before leaving for the Gulf.

Sophie said she was worried about her brother, while Fae said she missed Dave but was used to him being away. "I am proud of him, and seeing him in the paper was well good."