<p>
	I HAVE HIDDEN<br />
	YOUR WORD IN MY HEART</p>
The Bullet in the Bible

I HAVE HIDDEN
YOUR WORD IN MY HEART

PSALM 119:11


Chaplain Andrew Gillison was praised in one soldier's war diary as 'the bravest man he ever knew.' Dearly loved by the Gallipoli soldiers for whom he gave his life, Gillison's memorial still sits at Embarkation Pier, just north of Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.

Elvas Jenkins was born in 1888 in Ararat in country Victoria, the eldest of seven children. He was a popular boy, described as “sturdy, high-spirited, fond of fun, full of mischief, unselfish, good-tempered and reliable”.

Elvas was an enthusiastic member of his local Methodist church, and became a local preacher. After leaving school to work as an apprentice in a printing firm, he decided at age 22 to train for Methodist ministry.


In August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Almost immediately Elvas volunteered for military service. He was placed in the 2nd Field Company Australian Engineers as a Sapper (Private), part of the first AIF, (then called the AIEF - Australian Infantry Expeditionary Force).

Elvas left Melbourne for the war in the first convoy of AIEF troops on the transport ship Orvieto, arriving a month later in Alexandria, Egypt where the Australian troops were gathering and training ahead of active deployment to the battlefield. The 2nd Field Engineers were sent to the nearby Mena Camp.

It was in Alexandria that Elvas obtained the New Testament that he carried to Gallipoli – a French New Testament and Psalms. The inscription in the front reads, “Elvas E Jenkins, Mena Camp, Egypt, 1914. 1st A.I.E.F.”


Elvas left Melbourne for the war in the first 
convoy of AIEF troops on the transport ship Orvieto, 
arriving a month later in Alexandria, Egypt...

Australian and New Zealand forces began landing at Gallipoli at  4.30am on 25th April. Elvas carried his French New Testament in his shirt pocket, over his heart.

The Turkish Army constantly shelled the ANZACs with German-made Krupp 75mm field guns, firing shells packed with explosives and shrapnel bullets consisting of lead balls. The shells exploded on impact spraying the shrapnel bullets in all directions.

On 7th May, Elvas was struck directly over his heart by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He was carrying his French New Testament and Psalms back to front in his pocket. A lead shrapnel bullet struck the middle of the book, passing through the Psalms and Revelation and piercing the pages all the way to Acts. The Gospel pages stopped the bullet. The lead shrapnel ball still sits there today. In the back of his Bible, Elvas later wrote, “Shrapnel bullet from shell of 75mm field gun. About May 6 or 7 -1915”.

So many died on both sides in the first few weeks that the opposing sides managed to negotiate a truce on 24th May to bury the dead. The ANZAC evacuation was finally ordered in December 1915. Elvas was among the last to leave.


On 7th May, Elvas was struck directly over his heart by
shrapnel from an exploding shell. He was carrying his French 
New Testament and Psalms back to front in his pocket.

Back at Alexandria, Elvas was transferred to the frontline engineers, the 1st Pioneer Battalion and was sent to join the British Expeditionary Forces fighting in France on the Western Front. The ANZACs were assigned to the Battle of the Somme to take on the strong German entrenchment in and around the village of Pozières. The role of the 1st Pioneer Battalion was to go ahead of the main attacking force to reconnoitre the enemy positions and prepare the way.

The real attack on Pozières was scheduled for the 23rd of July. The 1st Pioneer Battalion was sent on ahead a week before, with Elvas leading a group establishing a forward position very close to the German lines. On the 19th of July, Elvas was in charge of a party determining the location of the German trenches. He was in the sights of a concealed German sniper and was shot and severely wounded. Taken to a Field Ambulance (mobile medical unit), he died the next day. Officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel E.J.H Nicholson wrote to Elvas’ father saying “Your son was the bravest finest lad that could be found… no one has been so mourned as he has been.” Elvas Jenkins was the first ANZAC to die on the Western Front. 


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