FRIENDS and family gave loved ones a heartfelt welcome yesterday as another wave of troops returned from the Gulf.

Around 70 of the main body of 7 Para RHA arrived at Aldershot's Lille Barracks after a 30-hour trip from Kuwait.

It marks the end of a four-month tour of duty in the Gulf, during which they became the first British regiment to cross the Iraqi border.

They entered Iraq through the eastern border from Kuwait, heading north towards Ramallah and reaching the Mayzan Provence near the Iranian border.

Regiment adjutant, Capt Chris Allen, praised the courage of his troops and described the morale in the heat of battle as superb.

"They were on the front line and there was a lot of pressure. In the first two weeks the regiment were firing constantly, through the night and day.

"They were under heavy artillery fire a lot of the time. It was a scary situation but there were no serious injuries.

"There was less Iraqi resistance than expected. Saddam's militia were the most dangerous people. They were driving round in pick-up trucks and firing at anyone.

"We also had to deal with the extreme weather. When we arrived in February it was freezing, but by the time we left it was 47 degrees in the shade."

Capt Allen said the reaction of the Iraqi people was most pleasing.

"They were all so pleased to see us. They were waving as we drove past, shouting and cheering with joy."