Private Curtis Welsby carries family World War One Bible with him in Afghanistan 'to keep him safe'

A teenage soldier on his first tour of Afghanistan carries a family Bible from the First World War with him at all times - as he believes it will help him keep him safe.

Private Curtis Welsby, 19, was given the 100-year-old Bible by his grandmother before starting his six-month operational tour in October.

The young soldier, from Manchester, serves with the 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (1 Mercian), which is currently operating at Shawqat forward operating base.

The family Bible 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 during the Troubles 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 about three months ago, 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.

"It was given to my great-great-granddad, who served with the Manchester Regiment, when he first joined the battalion. He took it with him to the First World War.

"From there it was passed to my great-granddad in the same regiment and that was in the Second World War.

"It then went to Korea with my granddad. Unfortunately he got captured, but he got away - I'd like to think it was the Bible giving him luck.

"Then it went to my uncle, who was in the The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and served in Northern Ireland. It missed Iraq, and then came to Afghanistan with me."

He added: "It means a lot to have it, because it's got them back safe and sound and I believe it's going to bring me back safe and sound.

"Every time we come back after a patrol I like to think the Bible has got us all back safe.

"It's good, it's just a bit of a morale boost to have it there - it's part of the family and is always with me when my family can't be.

"My nan gave it to me shortly before I came out - she said 'You should take it for good luck, it brought your granddad back from the war so it might as well bring you back'.

"My granddad used to tell me stories and I always knew I wanted to be in the Army."

Pte Welsby said many of his comrades carry around tokens of good luck, including letters and gifts from their families.

The young soldier also said being away from his family for Christmas will be "different", but that he is looking forward to celebrating when he gets home.

The Mercians' UK base is at Marne Barracks in Catterick, North Yorkshire.

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