The Bible and World War One


Dear Mother and Father

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

Last Thursday, just before one midday, I returned to my sleeping apartment and threw off my tunic and respirator, laid my bundle of kit down for a pillow and intended having a little rest.

I was looking round for something to read when I saw a friend coming along so I went round to the door to speak to him.

Just as I went to the door a shell exploded somewhere in the grounds and Gibson (who sleeps next to me) started off to the horse lines thinking there might be trouble there.

He had hardly gone when we heard another coming and immediately got down flat on the floor behind the brick pillar, a sprinkling of dust and wood splinters fell round us as the shell burst outside.

That was enough for us. We got up and ran for a trench nearby and as soon as we heard the next coming we flattened ourselves at the bottom, not troubling about the dirt so long as we could get under cover and so we remained until it was over.

When I returned for my tunic and respirator, we discovered that about a dozen men had been wounded, two of whom subsequently died.

As far as we could trace, four bullets came in, one being embedded in my kit where my head would have been but for the arrival of my friend. Another was on the floor where I would have been lying. The third was in the pocket of my tunic having been stopped by my Bible, as you can see, and the fourth went through Gibson’s mackintosh which was hung up in the compartment next to mine, where he would have been had he not started off a few seconds before for the horse lines.

So you see our escape was only a matter of seconds. How quickly I have had to prove the truth of what I said in my last letter, ‘safe in the hands’ and yet such is the case that I am here without a scratch, safe and well.

The eighth verse of Isaiah 49, where the bullet stopped, contains these words which caught my eye directly I saw it, ‘I will preserve thee’. May his be true of future days until I see you all again is my heartfelt prayer.

Your loving son


How my grandfather survived

Read more stories

Soldier’s life saved at the Somme by his Bible

Soldier’s life saved at the Somme by his Bible

The life of 21-year-old British soldier, Pte Frank Viner, was saved at the Somme by his Bible.

Bible ‘major support’ during Gallipoli campaign

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.

The man who saved others’ lives at Passchendaele

The man who saved others’ lives at Passchendaele

Cricket-loving Ronald Marchant was the youngest of four brothers from the village of Weald in Kent to sign up at the start of World War One. Herbert, Robert, Reuben and Ronald all left their family home and headed for the Western Front. Ronald, who’d left school at 14, was just 19 years old.

Read more about






Bible Society

Poetry and poets

Conscientious objectors

Bringing the Bible to life

Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon, SN5 7DG. Registered charity 232759

Read the Bible icon Read Bible
Open full Bible