The Bible and World War One - Bible Society

The Bible and World War One

Bible ‘major support’ during Gallipoli campaign

The Gallipoli campaign that began in April 1915 is often remembered as a sideshow to the fighting in France and Belgium. But tens of thousands of British, ANZAC and other Allied soldiers and sailors fought and died there in an attempt to open a sea route through to Constantinople via the adjacent strait of water known as the Dardanelles.

Located at the junction of Europe and Asia, the Gallipoli peninsula became the focus of intense and prolonged fighting over many months, with the Turks, supported by their German allies, feeding tens of thousands of troops into the peninsula to contain the Allied landings.

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‘It is hard to understand British society at the time of World War One if you subtract the Bible from it.’
Dr Michael Snape, Reader in Religion, War and Society at the University of Birmingham.

The Bible was a defining influence on British culture across class divides. From the public school to the Sunday school, from art and music to political debate, the Bible was in the blood of British people.

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Bible was 'defining influence' during WW1

When war broke out in 1914, every member of the British Armed Forces was given a Bible as an essential part of their kit.

Dr Michael Snape of Birmingham University explains why. ‘It was hugely consoling for individual soldiers,’ he says.

‘There are poignant stories of bodies being recovered of men who had died with a New Testament in their hands. ‘What else could you do if you were alone, badly wounded and going to meet your maker?’

More church resources

Resources to help churches to mark the centenary of World War One at the heart of local communities.

Stories from the time

How one man dodged three bullets

How one man dodged three bullets

Dear Mother and Father. I am sending in a parcel, my pocket Bible and three shrapnel bullets, of which the following is the story.

Socks, hoodies and Bible verses at real-life Downton Abbey

Socks, hoodies and Bible verses at real-life Downton Abbey

In a real-life example of Downton Abbey, Lady Edith Lyttleton Gell from Carsington in Derbyshire published a book of Christian thoughts and prayers for soldiers and their families and ran 24/7 prayer events for them.

Why one elderly man left home and family to care for British troops

Why one elderly man left home and family to care for British troops

When World War 1 broke out, my own great-grandfather Thomas Winter knew he had to be there, writes Hazel Southam.

World War One in pictures

Bringing the Bible to life

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