A soldier who stood on a landmine in Afghanistan may owe his life to a rosary - just as his great-grandfather did in the Second World War.
Private Glenn Hockton was saved when his rosary beads fell from his neck onto the floor and alerted him to the fact that he was standing a land mine Photo: EASTNEWS
7:30AM BST 03 Aug 2010
Guardsman Glenn Hockton, 19, asked for a rosary to take with him before being deployed to Afghanistan on a seven-month tour of duty with the Coldstream Guards in Helmand Province.
He bent down to pick the rosary up when it fell from his neck and then realised he was on a landmine.
Guardsman Hockton had to remain standing where he was for 45 minutes while his colleagues successfully attempted to rescue him.
His great-grandfather Joseph Sunny Truman also credited a rosary with saving his life when he survived a bomb blast after he was captured while serving with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in the Second World War.
Guardsman Hockton's mother Sheri Jones, from Tye Green, Essex, said she was physically sick when her son rang to tell her of his ordeal.
"He was on patrol and his rosary fell off his neck. He felt like he had a slap on the back. He bent down to pick his rosary up to see if it was broken," she said.
"As he bent down to pick it up, he realised he was on a landmine."
His brush with death echoed that of his great-grandfather towards the end of the Second World War when he and other prisoners of war were forced to march away from the advancing Allied armies.
"He was walking across a field with half a dozen of his platoon," said Mrs Jones. "He bent down to pick something up and was the only one to survive a sudden bomb blast. He had picked up a rosary."
Guardsman Hockton's mother and stepfather Danyal Jones have also kept a bullet which embedded itself in his body armour when he was shot on a separate occasion. He was winded but otherwise unhurt.
Guardsman Hockton is now back from Afghanistan but has been hospitalised with broken ribs he suffered in a non-work related mishap.
He joined the Coldstream Guards at 16 and was deployed last October.
Mrs Jones said: "As a parent, it was the hardest thing I had to do because being 16 I had to sign to give permission for him to join the Army. It was too painful to see him leave Brize Norton for Afghanistan."
His family sent 20 parcels a week for him and his colleagues.They contained everything from toiletries to thermal underwear and Marmite home comforts to make life in the war zone easier.
Back home his sister Danyel, six, and brothers George, eight, and TJ, 17, worried for their brother.
Mrs Jones said: "It was horrible for them. I couldn't watch the news because the children used to say: 'Is Glenn on there?' each time they said another soldier had been killed.
"He lost a couple of close friends out there. He is a very private person. We don't really push him [to talk about it]. If he wants to tell us, he tells us.
"He has turned around and said: 'When you're out there, you either kill or you be killed.' He said it is the hardest thing he has ever had to do. But you are fighting for your country and fighting for your life."