Bible saved Digger from early  grave
Divine intervention: Griffith John Owen's Bible. Picture: Supplied

Griffith John Owen had been on the Gallipoli peninsula for just two nights when he came within centimetres of death.

Mr Owen, of East Fremantle, had landed at Gallipoli in September 1915 as a member of the 28th Battalion and later wrote about his miraculous escape.

"We had only been two hours in the line, where I was placed behind a parapet of sandbags, when suddenly I was staggered by the force of a bullet against my body," he wrote.

"I recovered quickly and to my surprise did not feel any pain or observed any blood marks.

ANZAC CENTENARY - FULL COVERAGE

"I had been shot all right, for further search revealed to my astonishment that a bullet had penetrated my greatcoat through my equipment and then into my tunic pocket, inside of which I had a wallet containing a Testament, and inside that again a little book, in the centre of which the bullet had lodged."

Among the papers held by Mr Owen's family are newspaper cuttings from the time carrying descriptions of the incident and verification from other Diggers including Eulisius St Ives Bilston, who wrote a poem about the miracle, which began:

"I've often heard a Bible has at times been known to save,

"A soldier when in battle from a swift and early grave;

"What doubts I had regarding same have now been set at rest,

"On beholding how a Testament today withstood the test."

Griffith John Owens, came within centimetres of death.

Mr Bilston also wrote "the truth of the above lines can be certified or sworn to by a great number of officers and privates of the 28th Battalion, who all agree that it was one of the most marvellous occurrences in history, impossible as it may seem".

The family has the New Testament with the Turkish Mauser bullet still embedded in it.

Mr Owen had left Fremantle in June 1915 aboard the Ascanius.

He was 22 when he signed up and had given his occupation as grocer.

The second of his three brothers William Ernest also enlisted, as did his brother-in-law Percival Clegg.

Both returned home after the war.

Not long after Griffith Owen's brush with death, he was evacuated to England after becoming ill with enteric fever.

After recovering, some leave in Britain followed by further training, Mr Owen rejoined his battalion, which was fighting in France.

"After returning I saw quite a number of new faces and also some old mates, but not half the number that left the West with me, as the battalion had been badly cut about in different engagements," he wrote.

"I had not been back more than nine months before I received a piece of shell in the right eye."

The damage was worse than he indicated.

He spent months receiving treatment at various hospitals in France and Britain. His war records show that when he finally headed for home in February 1918, he had lost his right eye.

Grandson Geoffrey Owen said that after the war his grandfather worked for the Post Office until he retired, and spoke little of the war.

He was a keen lawn bowler, followed East Fremantle Football Club and on Saturdays would cook a fantastic lamb roast for the family.

Mr Owen was troubled by a pain in the side of the jaw in the 1970s and X-rays revealed it was due to shrapnel left in his face from the war.

Griffith John Owen died in 1977, aged 84.

The West Australian

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