Aldershot-based explosives sniffer dog Buster discovered a hidden cache of arms and ammunition when he took part in the raid, which resulted in the arrest of 16 Iraqi militia men.

Buster and his handler Sergeant Danny Morgan, 37, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (pictured) were working alongside 200 troops from the Duke of Wellington Regiment, the RAF Regiment and the Queen Dragoon Guards.

Five-year-old Buster is the only arms and explosives search dog currently working in Iraq and proved his worth when he uncovered the stash in a wall cavity which had been covered by a sheet of tin, and hidden behind a wardrobe.

Sgt Morgan said: “The soldiers had found nothing so I unleashed Buster and sent him in.

“The rule is that the dog always goes first in case there are booby traps and I was obviously concerned for him as he started his search.

Within minutes he became excited in a particular area and I knew he’d discovered something.”

The haul included AK47 rifles, a pistol, grenades, ammunition and bomb-making equipment.

Sgt Morgan trained Buster to fetch guns and ammunition instead of sticks and balls.

He said: “He loves his job simply because he thinks it’s a game and obviously has no idea he’s going into dangerous situations.

“I end up doing all the worrying because he’s not only doing a job out here — he’s my best friend.”

Buster performs such a vital role for the army that his wellbeing is a high priority.

He has his own protective gear to use in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

A special sealed pen has been provided which has air pumped into it through a gas mask.

And that will be welcome news to Nikki, 32, and five-year-old Emma at home who normally treat Buster as the family pet.

Sgt Morgan told a national newspaper: “My daughter Emma is missing him terribly — even more than she misses me.

“She was upset when I went off to war but wept buckets when she was saying goodbye to Buster.

And she’s been sending him more treats than me since we arrived.”

Meanwhile soldiers with 7(Para) Royal Horse Artillery are taking a well-earned break.

They were the first to fire on Iraqi troops, before the invasion started, the first across the border to provide artillery cover for US Marines and British paratroopers and have been involved in action against enemy positions every day so.

But now each gun battery is being given a day off on a rotation basis.

Manchester Evening News reporter Martin Dillon, who has been travelling with the regiment since the start of the war, reports: “They have travelled to an oil plant where there is running water and the men and the few women can have a shower and wash their clothes.

“It is very basic but for these troops who have been living in the desert it is a welcome rest.

“It is also a time for maintenance of the guns which have been firing non stop since the beginning of the conflict.”

The names of two soldiers killed in Iraq this week have yet to be announced.

A bomb disposal expert was killed in southern Iraq while trying to disarm a device.

Another soldier died in an accident involving a light armoured vehicle.

It brings the number of British fatalities to 27.