Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

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    padre1cpb
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    Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

    Post by padre1cpb on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:28 pm

    Hello Friends,

    I have been collecting items (and looking for more Very Happy ) related to Commonwealth Chaplains - especially the CCS. I realize that not everyone may know much about them so I am starting with a piece I wrote for a chaplain's group as a way of putting "the stuff" in context.

    At the outbreak of hostilities between the British Commonwealth and Hitler’s Germany, the Canadian Military was scrambling to rebuild itself from the interwar era of complacency and neglect. There was no chaplain service and as reactivated units were being rushed to Europe, the chaplains of the First War were sent as experienced men. It soon became apparent that younger men would be needed to serve in the active regiments and by the time of the invasion of NW Europe many younger clergy had been recruited and placed into the field.

    Canadian practice was to post one chaplain per battalion. Within a brigade, the denominational needs of the men were met by having chaplains of the member battalions share their services. Thus, a Roman Catholic could attend Mass with the Roman Priest of a neighboring battalion as a member of the Church of Canada (Anglican) could attend the Mass with another battalion. In Canada, members of the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian (some) and Congregationalist churches came together to form the Union Church of Canada and they supplied chaplains as well. In any case, the chaplain of a battalion served the needs of all members under his charge. It is of some import to note that the Government created two parallel chaplain departments, one Roman Catholic and one Protestant (Jewish faith needs were assigned to the Protestant branch).

    Worship services were often part of the unit schedule appearing most commonly as a Church Parade. In some units, attendance was compulsory whereas in others it was voluntary. In Europe, it was not uncommon for the chaplain to negotiate the use of a local church. Services could (especially early on) follow denominational practices but the most common practice was to follow the prayer book based primarily on the Anglican (Anglican Church in Canada = Church of Canada) practice. In the field, the chaplain would conduct services in the field with small groups of men. Where time and circumstances would allow, larger services would be conducted often in larger churches and cathedrals.

    As the war progressed, a series of small group meetings were instituted where men would come and share an “hour with the padre” discussing whatever topic came up. Unfettered by rank and protocol, the men were free to bring up any topic and often did . . . As the combat pressures began to lessen somewhat, a program was instituted were men could volunteer for a two week session in the rear (England) for spiritual training and reflection. In modern terms, we might describe this as a “retreat.” Two weeks away from the front, sleeping in plush beds and eating regular meals certainly would have been appealing to most all soldiers . . .

    The long period of training up in Britain left men with little to do but grow home sick, bored and liable to get into trouble. CCS chaplains would often serve as the battalion “morale officer” organizing athletic events, shows, educational opportunities and tutors. As part of the battalion staff they were usually included in the organizational meetings and planning and frequently played a more prominent part in the life of the battalion than some would expect.

    In combat, they would serve in the regimental aid post as well as accompanying the field ambulance (this refers to the corpsmen and stretcher bears rather than just a vehicle) to the forward areas frequently carrying the wounded back themselves and administering aid of both physical and spiritual natures. In the aftermath of combat, they would perform “last rites” and burial services, coordinate the recovery and temporary internment of the dead, record the area of burial for future reference, fingerprint or obtain dental impressions for otherwise unidentifiable bodies or parts, follow up with letters to families at home and console the survivor’s within the unit. Owing to the chaplain’s tendency to move fluidly around the front and given role, commanding officers could sometimes obtain a more timely assessment of his unit’s effective strength from the chaplain

    Chaplains were assigned Honorary Rank. Thus, a typical battalion chaplain was carried on the rolls as Hon. Captain so and so. A parallel practice was the class system so that this same chaplain might also be known as CF 4th Class, or Chaplain-to-the-Forces, 4th class. Although this practice continues today, the abbreviation met with some interesting epithets. This nominal rank was carried on the uniform as the non-honorary equivalent. The Honorary Captain had three rank pips on each shoulder for example. The insignia of branch worn on cap and lapels was the same badge as worn by the Royal Chaplain’s Department of the British Army. This same insignia was worn on the black scarf worn during some worship services.

    Liturgical clothing would vary according to denomination and were supplied by the chaplain himself or a denominational organization. This was true also of liturgical goods as well. The Government did supply two standardized communion sets: a “catholic” (Roman and Anglican) set and “non-conforming” set (Union) as well. The sets were both contained in a leather attaché type case that, although useful, was often found to be overly large unless a vehicle was at hand. Accordingly, most chaplains had a smaller pocket sized set of their own procurement.

    As most chaplains were authorized a jeep or tilly, their personal combat gear would have been much like most officers without the small arms. Besides the items of religious use, the chaplains would also have carried notebooks and maps for recording where internments had taken place along with making notes for use later on when writing letters to those back home. Depressingly in most chaplains’ eyes was the issuance of a finger printing kit for obtaining prints from unknown or unidentifiable remains. In the end, such information might help identify someone and provide the means to help settle some bereaved families back home of what happened to their loved one.

    As a group, the CCS chaplains were well regarded by their wartime congregations and proved to be indispensable in maintaining unit morale and effectiveness. The post war associations, commitments to faith, and involvement, proved numerous examples of lifelong influence in church life and corresponding actions in secular life by men under their charge. As the Second War melded the Canadians into a nation, it also provided a Providential means for the CCS chaplains to influence the morals and faith of a far-flung and highly independent people.

    padre1cpb
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    Commonwealth ( Canadian ) Chaplain Kit Lay out

    Post by padre1cpb on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:31 pm

    Here, Chaplain (H. Maj) J Forth (Ang.) lays out his kit upon the hood ( bonnet ) of his issue jeep.

    Starting in the back row, left to right:

    First Aid Pack, leather Communion Kit case, Officer's Pack, Utility Pouch, Communion ware - note typical Canadian style cruets, helmet with net and bandage, tags and finger printing set, book, altar ware, scarf, ground sheet - folded and under much of the above.

    Note also the Communion Kit Case Cover on the ground behind him.


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    padre1cpb
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    Commonwealth ( Canadian ) Field Communion Set

    Post by padre1cpb on Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:44 pm

    During the Great War, the British Commonwealth developed a field communion set that packed nicely into a leather case resembling an attache case. This remained the standard pattern throughout the period with a few alterations - mostly intended to preserve the case and carry a different type of prayer book.

    With the reactivation of the Canadian military in 1939, the rapidly expanding army needed more chaplains and they needed communion sets. The Government let out contracts for the standard set pictured here.

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    In this set we can find: (Army Prayer Book. altar linens, glass cruets with silver tops, silver chalice, silver paten, silver pyx, Bible, New Testament, Canadian Army Prayer Service Books, Union Jack (for using as "altar cloth").

    Steven, W. T. (1948). In this sign. Toronto: Ryerson Press.

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    Father Walter Brown's Field Communion Set is preserved and displayed at Huron University. This article tells about the case and it's original owner:

    " . . . Capt. Walter L. Brown arrived in France with suitcase in hand at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944 — the first Canadian chaplain to do so. It was his dream to minister and perform the rite of communion to Canadian soldiers who were in need of religious comfort.

    Brown's superiors allowed him to go to the front after he had spent 3½ years in England. Coming ashore with those in the first wave and surviving the horrors of the day was surely an answer to a prayer.

    Just after midnight on June 7, Brown was traveling with two Canadian corporals to a field hospital when a patrol of Hitler Youth spotted them. Suddenly, their mission to deliver medical supplies ended.

    Kurt Meyer, a German general, famously told the Nazi soldiers resisting the Canadians at Normandy to "give no quarter, (and) take no prisoners." The members of the Hitler Youth who surrounded Brown's jeep took those words to heart.

    They immediately killed one corporal and wounded the other, leaving him for dead. Brown, his clerical collar and black shirtfront visible above his uniform, surrendered.

    The wounded soldier found help and told his unit he last saw Brown walking towards the enemy soldiers with his hands-up. Weeks passed and Brown was listed as missing in action.

    June turned into July and with the change in month came the discovery of Brown's body dumped in a ditch by the side of a road. A little brown suitcase lay beside it.


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    The little brown suitcase


    "He had been bayoneted to death," Rev. Canon William Cliff, Huron's chaplain, says.

    Brown's murder is nothing more than a footnote on official United Nations War Crimes Commission documents, which charged Kurt Meyer with murder. They state, "a Canadian Chaplain taken prisoner was likewise murdered on the 7th June 1944."

    That's hardly the whole story, says Cliff. "No one (Allied) chaplain was ever executed during war except Father Brown . . ."

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    Otto, K. (2006, April 5). Second World War relic comes home to Huron. The Online Reporter. Retrieved October 15, 2012, from [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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    This is a Broad Arrow marked, 1944 dated, example. Note the later style chalice.


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    =------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is a 1915 marked Field Communion Set. Just think what this set could say having been used in BOTH World Wars . . .

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    Battalion Colours
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    Re: Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

    Post by Battalion Colours on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:18 pm

    Very interesting piece on the Canadian Chaplain Service. Thanks for posting it John.

    Why were the Jewish faith needs assigned to the Protestant branch?


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    padre1cpb
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    Re: Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

    Post by padre1cpb on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:35 pm

    You are most welcome!

    There were very few Jewish Chaplains. They did not have their own division.

    It is my understanding that in the Great War, there was just the Canadian Chaplain Service. There were some accusations of anti Roman bias. At the beginning of The Second World War, the Romans lobbied for and got their own branch. Everyone else was left in the "remaining" portion - that would be non Roman Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc.)

    Would there be interest in posting uniforms, insignia, books, etc?

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    Re: Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

    Post by Battalion Colours on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:56 pm

    I've always had a strong interest in Chaplains who served where they were needed, the front lines.

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    Rev. Captain W.H. Davis, Military Cross
    LOL 2566, Edmonton
    Canadian Chaplain Service
    Anglican


    Originally attached to the 138th (Edmonton) Battalion, Bro. Rev. Davis was later transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles after the 138th was disbanded to reinforce other units.

    The official history of the 4 CMR states:

    Vimy Ridge, April 1917
    Captain W.H. Davis, Chaplain, joined (the battalion), who at once became endeared to the men. The first glimpse they had of their beloved Padre in action was seeing him in the twilight on the crest of the Ridge, his steel helmet hung over his arm, prayer-book in hand, burying the dead, regardless of shells dropping around him.

    Vimy Ridge, July 1917
    Captain Davis, the Chaplain, was with the men as usual in the front line, doing everything he could for their comfort. For three days he worked with a party of ten men, giving Christian burial to the dead who had been left unburied in the area; his courage and scorn of danger endeared him to all who knew him.

    Passchendaele, October, 1917
    Late in the afternoon by common uncommunicated consent, without notification or sanction, both sides suddenly decided on a temporary armistice to look after their wounded and dead. It was one of those spontaneous things, arranged without agreement. It just happened. It suited both sides. Some think that the Germans were probably awed by the unusual sight of Padre Davis with such a large party nonchalantly walking about and as soon as they realized what he was doing, decided to do likewise. Suddenly large numbers of Germans got out of their trenches and commenced to search for their wounded. The idea was mutual...

    The Last Hundred Days, August, 1918
    The Battalion lost their Chaplain, Captain W.H. Davis...Every officer and man mourned for their beloved Padre. He came from Western Canada but he had retained his Irish heart and Celtic charm. If he knew what fear was he never showed it. His remarkable disregard for danger while carrying out what he considered his duty, became a regimental tradition. In the daily life of the Battalion, in billets or in trenches he was always thinking of the men's welfare. On this day as on former occasion he was preparing to carry out his practical mission of mercy and was gathering around him his little band of stretcher-bearers when he and one of his men were hit by a shell. No officer was loved for his character or more admired for his bravery than Padre Davis.

    Bro. Davis died at Amiens on August 9th, 1918 at the age of 34. He was born in King's County, Ireland and migrated to Saskatchewan and Alberta. He is buried at Le Quesnel Communal Cemetery, Somme, France.



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    Re: Canadian Chaplain Service ( CCS )

    Post by Battalion Colours on Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:59 pm

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    Rev. Capt. John Weir Foote, VC


    LOL 46, Fraserville, Ontario.
    Canadian Chaplain Service - attached to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

    (Later M.P.P. in Ontario and Colonel in Canadian Chaplain Service)

    A tall, rugged Presbyterian minister, Honourary Major the Reverend John Weir Foote, 41, on February 12 became the 14th Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second Great War, and the first member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to win the Empire's highest award for valour.

    The gallantry of the former chaplain of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) was shown in no sudden blaze of violent action, but coolly and calmly through eight hours of the gruelling, terrible battle of Dieppe, in which, says the official citation, "with utter disregard for his own safety he exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts."

    Then, at the end of his trial by fire, he climbed from the landing craft that was to have taken him to safety, and walked courageously into the German positions, that he might be taken prisoner and so minister to his men whose fate for the next three years was to be barbed wire and chains.

    Thus Major Foote's heroism was a continuing thing which did not end with battle. He wore the chains with the others of that gallant Dieppe company. For three days after his capture he was marched barefooted over rocky roads and cindered railway tracks. He surrendered his rights to the preferential treatment of an officer prisoner-of-war to live in a "Stalag" and minister to the ranks, and finally he took part in that terrible 37-day march across Germany by which the Germans sought to prevent the release of British and Canadian prisoners by the advancing Russians.

    The story of Major Foote's gallant deeds on the beaches of Dieppe was obscured for so long because those who knew how much he did on that bloody, bitter Aug. 19, 1942, were shut off like himself in German prison camps. Among them was Lieut.-Col. R.H. Labatt, Officer Commanding the R.H.L.I.

    "No one will ever know, and I can't tell you what John Foote meant to me and the regiment," Colonel Labatt said.

    It has only come out in full now, the epic story of the padre who, fully exposed to enemy fire from point-blank rifle and heavy shell, attended the wounded, administered opiates, bandaged up men and carried them to the safety of the landing craft for the whole eight hours of the Dieppe operation.

    Thought for his own safety seemingly never crossed his mind.

    He saved scores of lives, inspired others to save more. As each landing craft nudged the shore he was the first to carry men out to its shelter through heavy fire and refused again and again to be evacuated himself.
    Finally, as evening came down over the blood-drenched beaches and the last of the landing craft arrived to evacuate troops, he refused his last chance to leave and leaped ashore after depositing the last of the wounded in the craft. His choice was to stay with the remnant of the men whom he had served for three years and go with them into the hardship of the German prison camp.

    ...Carrying men to the landing craft through the surf with his army boots sodden and waterlogged was slow business. So Major Foote took off his boots to speed up operations. That was why when the Germans rounded him up with others left on the beaches the R.H.L.I. padre was barefoot. And barefoot he tramped for two solid days over broken stone, along the cinder bed of railway tracks and over rough country in a march which was taxing the endurance of well shod men.

    Eventually Col. Labatt managed to scrounge a pair of French army boots for him, size 13. Big and unshapely as they were, they were Major Foote's most prized possessions.

    With other officers of the regiment he was taken to Oflag VII B. He did not stay long at this officers' camp. Stalags, the camps for the men, needed him more and at the first opportunity he transferred and for two years carried on his great work among the "other ranks" until released on April 25, 1945, by the British Grenadier Guards.

    Official Citation
    "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the Victoria Cross to Honourary Captain John Weir Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services.
    ...Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire, he attached himself to the regimental aid post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while action continued, the officer not only assisted the regimental medical officer in ministering to the wounded in the regimental aid post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the regimental aid post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts.
    During the action, as the tide went out, the regimental aid post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. Also he removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared, he carried wounded from the regimental aid post to the landing craft through heavy fire with no consideration for his own safety.
    On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
    Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic man as he walked about collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten." ...

    It was reported, yet kept secret, that Foote "seized a Bren gun, although wounded in the left arm, and climbed a small knoll from where he laid down fire to cover the final withdrawal of the unit."

    The Rev. Foote donated his Victoria Cross to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. The "John Weir Foote, VC, CD" Armoury in Hamilton commemorates his name.


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