THE Division found a transformed Maadi Camp on its return from Tunisia. The camp had been acting as the headquarters of the Expeditionary Force, and in four years its size, scope, and amenities had steadily increased. The original Central YMCA, standing in the centre of the camp as its name suggests, had grown haphazardly into a large and useful building. Across the road the Roman Catholics had built an attractive little stone chapel, suitable for small services, with accommodation for two chaplains and another room for private interviews. For the whole period in Maadi Camp the Roman Catholics held their Sunday services in Shafto's cinema, a great barn of a building with four walls, a stage, and a screen. So closely did this well-known landmark come to be identified with Roman Catholic Church parades that it was often facetiously referred to as the ‘Latin Cathedral’.
The Church Army Hut at the other end of the camp had also grown and, though used by all, it became the centre of Church of England work. The best building, and the only one carefully designed for Middle East conditions, was the Lowry Hut. It was built round a comfortable open-air lounge, with a splendid stage and a number of rooms set apart for billiards, table tennis, photography, music, and other activities. A fine open-air theatre, called the El Djem Amphitheatre, had been carved out of a sandy hillside, and could hold 5000 comfortably. Large Church parades were often held there.
Normally the camp population consisted of the headquarters' staff, reinforcements under training, and troops in transit, but at this time the 4th Brigade had been there for almost a year undergoing training with armoured vehicles. The chaplains in this brigade had a splendid opportunity of getting to know their men and the new reinforcements, and they were able to pursue an uninterrupted programme of teaching and fostering unit organisations. Their service on Anzac Day 1943, in which each chaplain participated, was graced by a choir of 150 singing with the brigade band.
Service for the NZSC, 1944 near Alife, Italy (L. to r.) Capt J. M. Sidey, Rev. S. C. Read, General Freyberg, Brig C. E. Weir, Revs. P. C. S. Sergel and J. M. Templer
Padres' ConferencePresenzano. south of CassinoBack row (l. to r.): H. S. Scott, A. D. Horwell, H. W. West, J. M. Templer Third row: K. F. Button, W. R. Francis, H. F. Harding, C. G. Palmer, W. A. Mills, S. C. Read, W. J. Thompson, H. E. Rowe Second row: D. V. de Candole, J. S. Somerville, L. P. Spring, J.W. McKenzie, W. T. Huata, A. H. Finally, F. O. Dawson Front row: G A. D. Spence, J. A. Linton, H. G. Taylor, M. G. Sullivan, O. R. Marlow, J. C. Draper
Rev. II. E. Rowe, 25th Battalion padre, conducts the ThanksgivingService for the 6th NZ Infantry Brigade near Lake Trasimene, August 1945
Memorial Service—General Freyberg talks with the Revs. G.A.D.Spence, H. E. Rowe, W. T. Huata, J. S. Somerville, and the Rev.Father L. P. SpringCassino, October 1945
3rd NZ Division Chaplains' Retreat at Bourail, New Caledonia, July 1943Back row (l. to r.): W. R. Castle, W. St. A. Osborne-Brown, J. S. H. Perkins, J. R. Nairn, N. C. Hall, R. W. Murray, R. C. Aires, F. Columb Centre row: D. L. Francis, O. T. Baragwanath, K. Liggett, J. C. Pierce, J. W. Parker, G. R. Thompson Front row: W. E. Ryan, J. D. Froud, A. S. Ward, E. O. Sheild
CHRISTMAS, 1943, in the SolomonsVella LavellaThe Revs. D. L. Francis, G. R. Thompson, and A. H. Voyce tookthis service
Dedication Service, Maravari, led by Rt. Rev. Bishop G. V. GerardVella Lavella
Chapel built by islanders at the Allied Military Cemetery, Maravari, Vella Lavella
Many duties took the chaplains outside the camp. There were weekly services for the New Zealand Post Office and the New Zealand Club in Cairo, and an afternoon service for New Zealanders was held every Sunday in the Egyptian YMCA building. Twice a month chaplains had a long and refreshing drive to visit small units and isolated men. One spent a night with the Port Detachment on the Suez Canal and another went to Alexandria, where many New Zealanders were to be found in the Port Detachment, in British hospitals, or at the YMCA hostel.
The Maadi chaplains had many contacts outside the New Zealand sphere. The Roman Catholics often ministered to men of their own denomination serving with British units in the immediate vicinity of the camp, and they were frequently in touch with their own chaplains and civilian elergy in Cairo. Visits were exchanged with the South African chaplains in their camp at Helwan, and many an envious glance was cast at their beautifully designed garrison churches. Relations with the Royal Army Chaplains' Department were very cordial and many British chaplains, including the DCG, page 80 the Rev. H. J. Clarke, and the ACG from British Headquarters, the Rev. F. P. W. Alexander, visited Maadi to take part in conferences or services. In return the British chaplains invited the New Zealanders to share in many of their activities, whether they were important services on special occasions or meetings convened to hear some eminent clergyman on a short visit to the Middle East. These visitors included several Church of England bishops and leading representatives of other denominations, among them Dr. I. F. Church, former President of the Methodist Conference in England.
In 1943 permission was sought for the New Zealand chaplains to attend the refresher courses organised by the Royal Army Chaplains' Department in Jerusalem. Permission was given and a large quota fixed so that the maximum number of Divisional chaplains could attend during their short stay in Maadi. The leader of these courses was the Rev. J. E. Fison of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department. He was a man of great talent, spiritual force, and friendliness and all New Zealand chaplains appreciated his help and kindly welcome. Opportunity was also taken of enrolling New Zealand candidates for the Christian Ministry in the excellent series of studies arranged by the Royal Army Chaplains' Department. A list of these men, over forty in number, was made in 1942, and the chaplains tried to keep in touch with them and supply them with books and other help as the occasion permitted.