Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon


With the Infantry

With the Infantry

Few would deny that the infantry have the hardest and most dangerous life of any part of the Army. In battle they come to grips with the enemy, and often for long periods are pinned to the ground by shell and mortar fire. Out of battle their life is largely spent in a monotonous routine of weapon training, route marches, and digging. They have little transport of their own and no other unit suffers more hardship in regard to food and sleeping conditions. But for all that there is a glory in this life. They are the ‘common labourers’ in war, without whom no battle can be fought and no victory consolidated.

The infantry chaplain shared the same Spartan existence, often living far from his truck and his scanty equipment. No other chaplain had to face such physical hardships or such constant exposure to danger. No other chaplain had as many wounded to look after or dead to bury; and, in addition, after every action there was a constant stream of new faces in his battalion as reinforcements replaced the casualties. Under these conditions it was hard to build up a unit spirit and keep continuity. The infantry chaplain needed great physical and mental stamina and deep reserves of spiritual strength so that his contact with each stranger remained fresh and sincere. On the other hand, his battalion was seldom split up and he always had the bulk of his parishioners page 58 living all around him as companies were seldom dispersed more than easy walking distance away. In training periods his work was similar to that of most other chaplains but in action he had to evolve a special technique of his own.