Soldier's New Testament from World War I. It is inscribed 'Milton Hill Section Hospital Steventon Berks Mr & Mrs Mortimer Singer and Mr Washington Singer, best wishes, 1915' and includes contact details for several people.

The New Testament may have belonged to Albert Peile. Neither Peile nor his brother John's war record in the National Archives indicates that he was treated in Milton Hill Section Hospital, but Albert's record indicates that he was in the 3rd London General Hospital suffering from dysentery and septic throat in 1915, and he remained in England for six months (John remained in the Middle East during 1915 although he too was hospitalized for illness in late 1915). Albert's possessions sent back to his family included a 'Testament', which may be this one.

Similar New Testaments have survived inscribed 'Milton Hill Section Hospital with Mr & Mrs Mortimer Singer and Mr Washington Singers' best wishes', followed by the date. Milton Hill Section Hospital at Steventon in Oxfordshire was the first private hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I, and remained the largest throughout the war. It had 220 beds, a staff of 40 and treated 4560 patients. It was one of the homes of the wealthy Sir Mortimer Singer (1863-1929), son of Isaac Merritt Singer, American founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. He and his brother Washington Singer (1866-1934) arranged for the conversion of Milton Hill House into a hospital that cared for non-commissioned officers and regular servicemen. Mortimer's wife Aline served as Matron. The building was returned to private use in 1919.

The New Testament was acquired as part of a collection of material relating to the World War I service of brothers John and Albert Victor Peile, who both died in the conflict. Younger brother Albert enlisted first. He was a 22-year-old unmarried clerk when he enlisted on 27 August 1914, service number 769, 3rd Battalion. He served in Gallipoli and later France, and was eventually promoted to the rank of corporal. He died in Bullecourt, France on 4 May 1917 and is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial. His brother John Peile was a 38-year-old unmarried miner when he enlisted on 25 June 1915, service number 2662, 2nd Battalion. He also served in in Gallipoli and France, and was similarly promoted to corporal. He died in France on 18 September 1918 and is buried at Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Their mother died in 1926, aged 73. Their niece was Mrs M. J. Hitchens, the donor.

Physical Description

Small New Testament bible, covered with brown cloth and with a image of a Union Jack printed on the front in gold (now very faded). The edges of the New Testament's pages have been stained red (also faded). A pink cloth tape serves as a page marker. Extensive printed text within, as well as hand-written inscriptions at the front (names of people who gave the New Testament) and back (contact details of individuals).

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Returned and Services League (RSL) Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Victorian Branch, Returned & Services League of Australia Limited (RSL), Mrs Margaret J. Hitchens, 1986

  • Place Named

    Milton Hill Section Hospital, Steventon, Oxfordshire, Great Britain, 1915

  • Previous Owner

    Private Albert V. Peile - Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 1915

  • Inscriptions

    Hand-written in ink on first page: 'Milton Hill Section Hospital / Steventon / Berks / Mr & Mrs Mortimer Singer / and / Mr Washington Singer / best wishes / 1915'. [The date may have been written in at a different time.] Hand-written in purple pencil inside back cover, with a line between contact information: 'C.G. Perry. / ?21 Turners Building / Mill Bank / Westminster / London' '177 [?] W. Anderson / Mitchell St / Victoria / Bairnsdale' 'Winnie Onslow. / 54 Church St / Nth Fitzroy / Melbourne' 'Maggie Leggo / 61 Boyce St / Glebe Point / Sydney' 'Mrs [?] H. Dinwoodie / Northcote / Melbourne'

  • Classification

    Military history, Personal effects, Religious materials

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    63 mm (Width), 14 mm (Depth), 97 mm (Height)

  • References

    Steventon (Milton Hall) information from 'Caring for the Wounded - Berkshire', The Biscuit Boys, The Wounded in Berkshire, page 161.1, The Royal Berkshire Regiment Great War Project, John Chapman and the Trustees of the RGBW Museum Salisbury, 2007, [Link 1] accessed 5/6/2012. Further information on the New Testament from the sale notice of an apparently identical New Testament in The Fish That Flew web site, David Wilkins, [Link 2] accessed 5/6/2012. The North Berks Herald, Sat. 1 Feb 1919, p. 2, 'Milton Hill Section Hospital' For Albert Peile's war record see the National Archives of Australia website at: [Link 3]

  • Keywords

    Religions, Wars & Conflicts, World War I, 1914-1918