*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Shining a light on the padres

by
08 November 2013

Here is fresh research into war chaplaincy, says Robert Beaken

 

The Clergy in Khaki: New perspectives on British army chaplaincy in the First World War
Michael Snape and Edward Madigan, editors
Ashgate £65
(978-1-4094-3000-1)
Church Times Bookshop £58.50 (Use code CT611 )

A HISTORICAL conference was held in 2009 at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre to re-examine chaplains in the First World War. The papers delivered at that conference have been turned into the chapters in The Clergy in Khaki, with an excellent introduction by the editors, Edward Madigan and Michael Snape.

The subjects covered include Nonconformist chaplains, Free Church Revivalism, a Welsh perspective on Army chaplaincy, Scottish Presbyterian chaplaincy, "Woodbine Willy's" theology, chaplains in the context of military paternalism, Roman Catholic chaplaincy, the chaplains of British India, discourse on the post-war world by chaplains at the Front, chaplains and post-war reform of the Church of England, and the Royal Army Chaplains' Department after 1918.

Given that these chapters are based on conference papers - and because their average length is about 20 pages - they are in the nature of a series of snapshots or vignettes. Different readers will find different chapters more or less engaging. Because so much emphasis has been placed by historians on the Western Front, I particularly enjoyed the chapter on the chaplains of British India, and hope that this might lead to further research.

Inevitably, there are considerable gaps. In a book partly about Anglican priests, I should have enjoyed something about the part played by the eucharist in their lives and ministry, but there are only a few references in passing to the sacraments. Apart from the last two chapters, the treatment of the Church of England is fairly un- nuanced (and, in fairness, there was not room for much more). I was a little surprised that no one mentioned the 1916 English Church Union report Religious Ministrations in the Army.

I should have preferred the footnotes to be endnotes, and I would have enjoyed a few photographs of some of the people mentioned in the text. These, however, are quibbles. This is a very readable book, which I greatly enjoyed. As we approach the centenary of the First World War, we need to relearn much of our history, cutting through later layers of misrepresentation and prejudice. The Clergy in Khakiis an excellent resource, and I very much hope that its authors will publish further research on this fascinating and much misunderstood subject.

The Revd Dr Robert Beaken is Priest-in-Charge of St Mary's, Great Bardfield, and St Katharine's, Little Bardfield.

 

 

 

 Scouts' artist: Royal Academy-trained Ernest Stafford Carlos - seen (right, below his headstone) with a version of his famous painting of Christ with a Boy Scout,The Pathfinder, widely copied in stained glass - was killed in action in 1917, aged 34. In this letter (below) to his brother, a priest, he writes that, "should anything happen to me", his paintings can be sold. He was active in church "slum work" and Scouting in Kennington and Camberwell. Steven Harris's lavishly illustrated studyPainting in Earnest: The story of Ernest Stafford Carloshas contributions by Bear Grylls and an art historian, Paul Lewis (Lewarne Publishing, lewarnepublishing.co.uk, £12 plus £3 p&p)

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

4-8 July 2022
HeartEdge Mission Summer School
From HeartEdge and St Augustine’s College of Theology.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)

*Until the end of June: we’re doubling the number of free articles to eight, to celebrate the publication of our Platinum Jubilee double issue.