The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in World War I has been given much coverage. The human cost was devastating: 60,000 British soldiers lay dead after the first day. Over a million would perish between July and November of 1916.
To mark this occasion, SASRA and Day One have published the diaries of an Army Scripture Reader at the Somme. It is well worth reading and affords a unique perspective on the Somme.
The immense suffering of the soldiers led to many opportunities to offer spiritual counsel and prayer. Often men were ready to open up to a Scripture Reader in a way they would not to others. ASR Ransley’s diary gives an excellent example of how to show compassion to those in great need and speak of Christ in a way suited to the situation. He was ready to pray for specific needs that the men had and saw God answer his prayers.
The question arose as to how Christian men could live as soldiers amid the extremes of frontline combat. The testimony here is that it would be more difficult to be on the frontline without the faith in Christ that many professed.
The book is full of photographs from the Somme. It is annotated with historical and biblical references. It encourages us to recognise the vital work that SASRA does today and is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in World War 1. It will also stimulate Christians to be ‘always ready’ to give a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).