Soldier puts his faith in Good Book that kept ancestors safe through four wars

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A teenage soldier on his first tour of Afghanistan carries with him a Bible which has been in his family since the First World War as he believes it will help bring him home safely.

Private Curtis Welsby, 19, from Manchester, serves with the 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, which is currently operating at Shawqat forward operating base.

He was given the Bible, which is almost 100 years old, by his grandmother before starting his six-month operational tour in October. It first belonged to his great-great-grandfather, Jay Greenwood, who served with the Manchester Regiment during the First World War.

The book has since been passed down four generations. It was given to Pte Welsby’s great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the Second World War, then to his grandfather, who took it with him when he served in the Korean War, and to his uncle, who carried it with him as he served in Northern Ireland.

The faded Active Service Testament is dated 1916 on the outer cover and carries a “message to the troops” from Lord Roberts, marked with the year 1914.

Pte Welsby said: “When I deployed to Afghanistan, my Sergeant Major noticed a bit of plastic poking out of my Osprey [body armour] and asked what it was. I told him it was a Bible, and he was amazed at how old it was.”

The Mercians’ UK base is at Catterick, North Yorkshire.