Thursday, 18 June 2009

Lord Roberts's Message to the Troops

I have inherited a book that belonged to my grandfather, William Sadler.

I never knew my grandfather but he served in the first world war and the book is called The Daily Portion Testament. I'm guessing it was issued to troops to give them comfort and to help preserve faith.

This is inside the front cover:

Lord Roberts's Message to the Troops
25th Aug 1914
I ask you to put your trust in God. He will watch over you and strengthen you.
You will find in this little Book guidance when you are in health, comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity.
The message inside the front cover is not overly legible which is not surprising, as if it was Lord Roberts that wrote the message by hand, he was 81 at the time. He died later that year, in November, aged 82.

I wonder if the same time, thought and effort goes into the spiritual welfare of today's troops.


rittie said...

hello my grandfather also left me a bible front cover ;daily portion new testament. active service 1917.
however on the inside front cover is the message from lord roberts dated 25th august 1914 very strange. take care god bless from melda carson

Shaun McGee said...

I have one from 1916 that was passed to me by my grandmother who received it from a wounded soldier she was nursing in November 1916.

Tommy said...

Hi, there are still charitable organistions working for the spiritual welfare of our troops today. I work for one such organisation - Sandes ( I was aware of Lord Roberts comments and was online looking for the actual quote when I came across your entry. We run Christan Centres for Soldiers on the camps where they can come to relax and chill out and through which we distribute Bibles and Christian literature. It is a befriending ministry. We also have a parcel ministry sending boxes to Afghanistan with sweets and snacks but also Scripture and literature to encourage them.

For 140 years now the Lord has enabled us to continue being a Christian witness to those in our Armed Forces.

max said...

I have just acquired a copy of 1917service testament, with Lord Robert's words inscribed on inside cover, dated 25th. Aug. 1914, The book seemed to have belonged to a Reben Lee of 13, Royle Road, Burnley Lancs. I was wondering if he might have been a member of one of the pals regiments, but so far can't trace him. Any leads gratefully accepted!

Ann said...

Unfortunately I have very little information about my grandfather. But if I find out anything, I'll post it here.

Anonymous said...

I also have a Bible that belonged to my father,dated 25th May 1914, but inside the back cover is another date,27th March 1918,this is my fathers declaration that he understood the conditions of the Bible.So the Bible must have been passed to him as he was only born in 1905.There is another frontispiece to this book from Heyman Wreford with an address in Exeter.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother gave my grandfather a small bible when he was leaving Australia in 1918,for WW1. Inside the bible is Lord Robert's words inscribed in her hand. The little bible was taken to and from the war with each location written inside. He treasured it all his life. My grandmother also wrote "The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another"... And the prayer was answered!

Arlene said...

I also have a New Testment bible with Lord Roberts message 25/05/14.Also has msg:
"Psalm 119.105 Thy Word is a feet and a light unto my ... 1922.
A little rememberance is
One of our soldiers' in the great 1914 War - Peace 1919 with best wishes Dr. R E Sproule - Boston, Mass and Toronto friends J G Butland, Etter Cotellan Brenton

Any info??

SGM Lifewords said...

Hello, I work for the charity that distributed those New Testaments, so I can tell you a little bit about them.

They were produced by Scripture Gift Mission, a Bible charity that gave away 43 million items of scripture during the First World War. There are lots of different editions, but if they have the message from Lord Roberts, it's definitely from SGM.

The introduction from Roberts was quite meaningful for the soldiers. He was a hero of the Afghan and Boer wars, well known to the troops. His preface is in his own handwriting, which is why it's a little hard to read! He was in his 80s when the war started, but he still traveled to the front to support the soldiers. He died of pneumonia in France in the winter of 1914. Lord Roberts was one of only two non-royals to be honoured with a state funeral in the last century, the other being Winston Churchill in 1965.

The New Testaments often include a few hymns at the back so that chaplains could conduct services in the field. At the back of the New Testaments is a commitment form that soldiers could sign. Many did, and our office received lots of letters from grieving families saying how comforted they were to get their loved one's possessions back, and find that they had turned to God in the trenches.

Scripture Gift Mission is today known as SGM Lifewords, and we're still at work around the world. Our military work now rests with the Naval, Military and Air Force Bible Society, which used to be part of SGM and became a separate organisation in 2004.

If you have any questions about the New Testaments, we'd be happy to try and answer them! You can visit or find us on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I also have a bible with Lord Robert's message dated August 25, 1914

Heather - San Francisco

Anonymous said...

I recently came by one of these in an old officers uniform, pretty badly damaged. Uniform was full of holes and both were stained brown. The bibles inscribed rev robert miller carseldine

Beth Axton said...

I had to clear my elderly aunt's home and there, with memorabilia, was one of these old and tattered New Testaments with Lord Roberts inscription. Showing my aunt, she said it was her father's, Frederick West, and that he carried it in his pocket throughout every day of standing in the Ypres trenches during the 4 years of WWI. We both remembered him telling us that bullets were all around but never one touched him. I note also that Lord Roberts, a greatly acclaimed man,simply signs himself as, Roberts. I believe that he would not sign himself as Lord in these Bibles, in acknowledgment that only Christ is truly Lord. Although a great man, he was plainly a true and humble believer who even at 81 did an enormous service in inspiring the troops with these NTs and message and even us today.

Susan Beazley said...

Arlene, I have a copy of the exact same inscription; Dr. Sproule and Toronto friends. I found it in a house I was cleaning in Toronto. Are you also in Toronto?

philip jones said...

excellent background information from SGM lifewords. I have my grandfathers new testament with Lord Roberts's handwritten message to the troops dated 1914

Anonymous said...

My grandfather's copy is dated 25th Aug 1914 and reads "I ask you to put your trust in God. He will watch over you and strengthen you. You will find in this little Book guidance when you are in health, comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity.-"
Roberts 7/14

Anonymous said...

I have a bible with the inscription dated 25th August. Lord Roberts Message to the troops. It also states it was from Crowborough Friends. My grandfathers name was Albert Charles Pearson & his army no 30716. Also states East Sussex and Luton. Any info on this appreciated

Chris Gooch said...

I have just found a small book as described by all called the "The A B C" of the Gospel. it also has a note on page 2. "With Gods blessing"
and signed Alburt Richards Chaplain. 5th East Surry Reg dated 1916.
Left to me by my beloved Father Edward Horace Gooch.

Christopher Franklyn Gooch

Ian Brown said...

Now occupying pride of place in my First World War Collection is a
"Shrapnel Damaged Active Service New Testament – The Somme Trenches, 1918"

A fascinating item with a splendid story coming directly from the trenches of the Somme in 1918.

This New Testament (and accompanying items) relate to a Sgt. William Stone from the Black Watch Regiment. He was wounded by shrapnel from a grenade on 22 March 1918. His New Testament took the brunt of some damage and was penetrated by some shrapnel.

Completing this little collection is a card that was sent just after after his brush with death. It reads, "By the will of God I have been saved. A miraculous event and story to be told! I shall relay to you through smiles upon my return."

A very poignant message inside the Active Service Testament reads:

"25th August 1914, I ask you to put your trust in God. He will watch over you and strengthen you you will find in this little book guidance when you are in health, comfort when you are in sickness, and strength when you are in adversity, ROBERTS."

(This item was displayed in the Whitehall Theatre of War/London War Museum in Whitehall during the 1980s).

Ian Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Hamilton said...

I have found an "ACTIVE SERVICE" TESTAMENT 1916,with the message from Lord Roberts on the inside cover. It belonged to my Grandad, Walter Calvert 1884-1959.He was in the Army and possibly served in France and Belgium.It is interesting because he has placed about half a dozen flowers between the pages which possibly have not seen the light of day often from the day they were picked.

A. Shannock said...

I`ve just found in a box of momento`s an `Active Service` Testament with the same message from Lord Roberts, dated 25th. May 1914.
I guess this must have belonged to one of my grandparents, but can`t find anything in it to give me a clue which one. Is there any way to try and trace which grandparent would have been given it?

Tim Hamilton said...

It would have been to the grandparent who was enlisted in the armed forces at that time.