Reading from a soldier’s shrapnel- embedded bible at the 1st dawn service
READING from a Rockhampton soldier's shrapnel- embedded bible at the city's first Anzac Dawn Service in 1916 was a poignant moment.
The shrapnel had penetrated the cover to the first book of Samuel, nineteenth chapter, eighth verse.
Then Mayor Alderman J. Morrison read from the place where the shrapnel came to rest.
"And there was war in the land," it read.
"And David went out and fought the Philistines and slew them: and they fled."
More than just spiritual comfort, the crowd of 600 heard carrying the bible in a uniform pocket could have saved many young men's lives.
The first part of The Morning Bulletin's April 26, 1916, report is reproduced below.
"On Monday night the prospect for the early morning memorial service in connection with the commemoration of Anzac Day was not very promising and the outlook was still more gloomy when rain set in during the night.
However, the rain ceased and the weather took up somewhat.
The morning broke dull and cheerless: but just as the service started at half-past six o'clock the sun burst through the clouds and shone as gloriously and as brightly as it did on that memorable and never-to-be forgotten 25th of April, 1915, when the Australian and New Zealanders, with no tradition behind them, emerged from the obscure, and, with one magnificent achievement, gained a niche in the temple of fame and performed a feat which will live so long as time endures.
In one glorious day they took their places with the heroes and showed themselves worthy sons of the grand old British Empire.
Considering the early hour and the somewhat unfavourable condition of the streets, the attendance at Earl's Court, where the service was held, was distinctly good.
Some were there who had borne their part in Gallipoli: others there were who have felt the call and are going to do their part, prepared to make the supreme sacrifice if needed.
And there were also a large number of cadets, on whom the honour of Australia will rest in the years to come should the need arise.
There were fully 600 people present.
The Mayor, Alderman J. Morrison, presided, and at the table were the Rev. J. T. Whyte (President of the Rockhamp-
ton Ministers' Association), the Right Rev. J. Walker (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland) and the Rev. Messrs. A. M. Martin, J. Bongers, T. Brassington, A. D. Shaw, and H. J Potter.
After the National Anthem had been sung, Mr. Martin offered prayer.
Mr. Bongers then read Psalm CXLV.
Mr. Brassington addressed the gathering.
He said that they had great cause for thankfulness in seeing such an assemblage.
He believed that they were entering upon that day, Anzac Day, in the right spirit in praising God for the wonderful deliverance of their soldiers, the Gallipoli boys, who had been brought back and were now at the front ready to do great service for the Master.
He referred to the spirit of sacrifice the men had shown in taking up arms.
They had left their homes and gone abroad to defend their country and sustain the right.
Those left behind had played the part of a christian community, and it was their duty to pray to God to bless their soldiers and to remember them in their prayers and plead for their safe return.
There was one story in the Anzac landing which appealed to him.
That was the story of the Prince George.
As the great vessel steamed along a deadly missile was fired at it and struck it.
There were 2000 soldiers on board: but they were saved.
The missile did not explode.
Some would say that this was due to faulty work in the torpedo, which they would say was defective: but he believed that it was owing to God, in His providence, that the torpedo did not explode and so save those 2000 men from going down into the deep.
Mr. Brassington also referred to Colonel Ferguson, of the Twenty-sixth Battalion, a noble officer who belonged to the church from which he (Mr. Brassington) had come.
Many of the men with the colonel were from the same church.
They were in the landing, and not one was killed.
The colonel wrote that he believed that this was due to prayer.
Colonel Ferguson also wrote that he felt sure that God was with them, and would give them the victory.