THE Northern Echo is trying to trace the family of a solider who carried a small bible while fighting in the First World War.

Private Thomas George Smith, a driver with the Machine Gun Corp, was from the North-East and his bible was given to The Northern Echo by Janet Battle, from Norwich, who wants to see it reunited with his descendants.

For years, the slim, brown YMCA New Testament has been displayed in a church in Norwich on Remembrance Day, alongside poppies, a crucifix and barbed wire, as a symbol of how men turned to God during the Great War.

Pte Smith's address is written as 36 Front Street, New Washington, County Durham, an area now known as Concord.

In the front is a signed message from Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army during various colonial conflicts between 1885 and 1904.

It reads: "I ask you to put your faith in God. He will watch over you and strengthen you.

"You will find in this little book guidance when you are in health, comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity."

Steve Shannon, manager of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum, said it was possible that Pte Smith was in the DLI before becoming a Machine Gun Corp driver.

He said: "A lot of people found great comfort in the pages of their bibles when they were fighting. Books like this were quite popular as well because the pages are so thin you could roll cigarettes with them."

Pte Smith is believed to have won medals and survived the war but little more is known about him.

Mrs Battle, who was given the bible by a parishioner, said: "I thought the relatives might like to have it back."

Anyone with information can call reporter Gavin Havery on (01207) 280613.