<p>
	Take the helmet of salvation<br />
	and the sword of the Spirit,<br />
	which is the word of God.</p>
New Testament Under Fire

Take the helmet of salvation
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.

EPHESIANS 6:17


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.

Philip James Davies was born of strong Welsh descent in Ballarat, Victoria on July 16th, 1895. Growing up in the gold rush town, he attended Humffray Street State School, and went along to Sunday School at the Ballarat Town & City Mission.

Davies was working in the gold mines when war broke out in 1914, but it wasn’t until 1916 that Philip signed up to serve in the 39th Battalion. He was 20 years old. His enlistment papers suggest he’d been previously rejected “for His Majesty’s Services” because of his teeth, but this time he was allowed in.

Before leaving Australian shores for England on the steam ship Ascanius at Geelong, the British & Foreign Bible Society gave a pocket New Testament to each soldier, including now Lance Corporal Davies.

The 39th Battalion arrived at the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on the 9th of December, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17.


In July 1917, a group of soldiers was required to dig and lay telephone cables at Messines Ridge in Belgium, not far from the German border. Five soldiers were selected, and Lance Corporal Davies led the group late at night to do the work. It was the eve of his 21st Birthday.

While they were laying the cables, two large shells exploded close to the soldiers, killing one of the men, and injuring three others. Among the injured was Lance Corporal Davies, struck with shrapnel on the back of his legs and both arms. Two stretcher-bearers soon arrived to pick up the soldier who was killed, and soon after more help arrived to transport the wounded to the nearest casualty clearing station.


While they were laying the cables, 
two large shells exploded close to the soldiers, 
killing one of the men, and injuring three others.

Lance Corporal Davies was transported to London for surgery on his leg wounds. The next morning, he began to look through the pockets of his tunic. In his top left pocket, he found his New Testament hadn’t moved. But upon removing it, he saw the front cover was damaged and the back cover was distorted, but unbroken. As he opened the Bible, he could see a piece of shrapnel buried into the wafer thin pages. The surgeons standing near the bed said to him, “You’ve been saved by that New Testament! If the stiff back cover hadn’t stopped the shrapnel, it would have entered your heart."

The shrapnel stopped not far from Ephesians Chapter 6:16-17, which reads: “Above all taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”


"You’ve been saved by that New Testament! 
If the stiff back cover hadn’t stopped the shrapnel,
it would have entered your heart."

After a long period of further treatment lasting some months, Lance Corporal Davies was returned to Australia. Back home, he married his sweetheart, Victoria Turpie in 1920, who gave birth to their first son Richard in January 1922. It wasn’t until Richard was a teenager and they were cleaning up a room in the house that he discovered his father’s treasured New Testament. That day, his father told him the above story for the first and only time. Richard, now 92 years old, has never forgotten.

Before he died in 1972, Lance Corporal Davies told Richard to never let the little New Testament out of his sight. He was to hold onto it until his own death, at which point he should gift it back to the Bible Society.

Richard Davies still resides in Ballarat and has generously lent his father’s treasured Bible to Bible Society as part of their 2015 exhibition. He has only just recently begun to tell his father’s story and the story of the shrapnel Bible. He handwrote most of the above story across three nights in August 2014.


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