130-year-old notebook saved soldier’s life by taking a bullet on the battlefield

This 130-year-old notebook is shot through with history, having saved its owner’s life by taking a bullet for him on the battlefield.

George Dowsell was serving in the 2nd Devon Regiment in the Third Anglo-Burmese War when he was shot.

But the Bristolian soldier escaped largely unscathed as the bullet tore through the front cover of the notebook stashed in his chest pocket.

It then bored through the pages, stopping just shy of the back cover, meaning George had escaped death by millimetres.

He then used the book to record his miraculous survival with minimal fuss.

George wrote: “Speak not this book for fear of shame, for here you will see the owner’s name. No. 1787 Pte George Dowsell 2nd Devon Regiment. Done by a bullet when in my pocket at Kyain Kwile Loung on Sunday the 22nd of February, 1891.”

The notebook was kept by George and later passed down through his family.

It is being sold in Bristol and expected to fetch several hundred pounds.

Auctioneer Andrew Stowe said it was a “very special” and rare artefact.

“Stories of being saved by items stuffed in pockets are common,” he added.

“But very rarely are the items still preserved.

“The notebook is in a terrible state, with a large bullet hole through the middle and signs of burning.

“Dowsell was very lucky – the bullet stops just short of the cover on the rear.

“If the notebook had been a millimetre thinner, he may not have lived.”

How a cigarette case that saved a First World War soldier’s life by stopping shrapnel hitting him has come to light after 100 years.

Lieutenant Frank Barlow was serving on the Western Front when an anti-personnel shell packed with lethal metal balls smashed into his trench.

One of the pellets struck him in the chest but the lucky silver tin happened to be in his breast pocket and took the impact.

Welsh Guards officer Lt Barlow kept the dented case for the rest of his life – as well as the shrapnel.

Timothy Medhurst, of auctioneer Duke’s, previously said: “Its owner unsurprisingly made sure he kept hold of it for the rest of the war and his life.

“It is also quite remarkable he kept the metal ball from the shell that so very nearly killed him. The ball fits into the indentation like a hand in a glove.”

After the war, Lt Barlow returned to his hometown of Dover, Kent, and worked as a bank note printer.