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In a letter home, published on 10 September 1915, Richard Whincup told the story of a soldier he had met who related an incident which took place at Neuve Chappelle. He was on guard duty that night and a heavy bombardment was in progress. He naturally felt a little shaky when he turned out to take his turn. He had noticed in the vicinity a large crucifix with a form upon it representing the crucified Saviour. (I might say that out here in France these crosses can be found at nearly every cross road in town or village.) He seemed to have a notion that the safest place would be at the foot of this crucifix so he took up his post at the foot of the cross. The shells fell fast and thick around him and he judged that had he been anywhere else he would surely have been killed. However the
crucifix remained intact and he escapade without a scratch. One might think this is a bit far-fetched but it is very singular that most of these crucifixes escape the shells. I have seen places which have been absolutely shattered and still the cross remains untouched. I don’t say for one moment that none have been hit but I have never yet seen one which has. The reason I have related this is to give you an idea as to what implicit faith men will put in a mere emblem or shadow of the cross. I should
think over half of our soldiers carry with them a crucifix on some part of their body. It is remarkable, for when you come to speak to these men they seem to be so little concerned about the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that while we were yet sinners He laid down His life for us. One cannot help but pity them, to think they are so foolish as to grasp at the shadow and miss the substance. Let us pray and trust that the cross which they so often look upon may remind them that Christ Jesus is a living Person today who is able and longing to save them.
photo of crucifix at Neuve Chapelle from ve_chapelle_short.html
In the shadow of the Cross