AN ARMOURED raid into the besieged city of Basra has been led by a North Yorkshire serviceman.

Major Tim Brown, from Bedale, commanded a tank unit that stormed three miles into the heart of the city, Iraq's largest after Baghdad. His squadron of 11 Challenger II tanks, from the Scots Dragoon Guards, met stiff resistance from Iraqi forces, but managed to return without any casualties.

It achieved its objectives in finding three targets. One was a paramilitary headquarters, the second a TV and radio mast, and and the third a statue of Saddam Hussein.

Major Brown said: "The mission wasn't to go in and kill people, it was to take out three objectives of infrastructure.

"The statue was a visible symbol of regime change for the population."

Meanwhile, the body of a Royal Marines officer from North Yorkshire was today resting at an Oxfordshire air base after being one of the first dead to be flown home from Iraq.

Captain Philip Guy, from Skipton, lies in one of ten Union Flag-draped coffins at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

He was killed in a US helicopter crash in the Kuwaiti desert.

His parents made the trip to Oxfordshire to see his return, though his wife, Helen, was unable to make the trip as she is heavily pregnant.

A family friend said: "It was very emotional, but they were very happy with the way the military treated the occasion."

The Duke of York and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were among those who went to Brize Norton for the arrival of the bodies.

Updated: 11:20 Monday, March 31, 2003