Belfast Telegraph

Somme hero's Bible returned to family after more than a century

By David Young

A tiny pocket Bible belonging to a First World War hero wounded at the Somme has been returned to the soldier's son after more than 100 years, thanks to detective work by a local museum.

On Christmas Day 1915, Edwin RL Chambers of the Royal Fusiliers signed and dated the little Bible. Thirty years later, it was discovered in a chest of drawers in a second hand furniture shop in Fintona, Co Tyrone, by Ernest Crawford.

Mr Crawford tried for years to find the Bible's rightful owners, without success.

But now, with the help of Causeway Coast and Glens Museum Services staff, the Bible has been returned to the war hero's son Laurence.

This week at Ballymoney Museum, Ernest, now aged 93, met Laurence Chambers and his nephew Steven, Edwin's son and grandson, and the bible was finally handed over.

Ernest said he was delighted that the mystery had finally been solved: "I never thought that, after 70 years, we would get the bible back where it belonged, with the Chambers family."

Laurence Chambers said: "Our family is very grateful that Ernest kept the Bible safe all this time and we are very thankful for his efforts in seeking out the family to return it."

Edwin RL Chambers' war record is impressive and dramatic. He was a Lance Corporal with the Royal Fusiliers and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, later achieving the rank of Lieutenant, and was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory medals for his service.

In 1915, he suffered gas poisoning while on the front line and was later wounded by shrapnel at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After the war and the completion of his military service in 1919, Lieutenant Chambers married his wife Kathleen and had six children, settling in the Cavehill area of Belfast.

The couple were firm supporters of the Royal British Legion and were founding members of the Cavehill Men and Women's branches.

Yesterday's historic handover was witnessed by Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor Joan Baird, who said: "With Christmas Day approaching, I think it is hugely significant that the Bible has now been returned to the family of its owner.

"I was delighted to meet his son and nephew, along with Ernest - it was clear how much the occasion meant to all involved."

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