"The troops, while ready to believe in the Kaiser as a comic personal devil, knew the German soldier to be, on the whole, more devout than himself. In the instructor's mess we spoke freely of God and Gott as opposed tribal deities. For Anglican regimental chaplains we had little respect. If they had shown one-tenth of the courage, endurance, and other human qualities that the regimental doctors showed, we agreed, the British Expeditionary Force might well have started a religious revival. But they had not, being under orders to avoid getting mixed up with the fighting and to stay behind with the transport. Soldiers could hardly respect a chaplain who obeyed these orders, and yet not one in fifty seemed sorry to obey them. Occasionally, on a quiet day in a quiet sectorm the chaplain would make a daring afternoon visit to the support line and distribute a few cigarrettes, before hurrying back. But he was always much to the fore in rest-billets. Sometimes the colonel would summon him to come up with rations and bury the day's dead; he would arrive, speak his lines, and shoot off again. The position was complicated by the respect that most commanding officers had for the cloth- though not all. The colonel in one battalion I served with got rid of four new Anglican chaplains in four months; finally he applied for a Roman Catholic, alleging a change of faith in the men under his command. For the Roman Catholic chaplains were not only permitted to visit posts of danger, but definitely enjoyed to be wherever the fighting was, so that they would give extreme unction to the dying. And we had never heard of one who failed to do all that was expected of him and more. Jovial Father Gleeson of the Munsters, when all the officers were killed or wounded at the first battle of Ypres, had stripped off his black badges and, taking command of the survivors, held the line.
Anglican chaplains were remarkably out of touch with their troops. The Second Battalion chaplain, just before the Loos fighting, had preached a violent sermon on the Battle against Sin, at which one old soldier behind me grumbled: "Christ, as if one bloody push wan't enough to worry about at a time!". A Roman Catholic padre; on the other hand, had given his men his blessing and told them that if they died fighting for the good cause they would go straight to Heaven or, at any rate, be excused a great many years in Purgatory (...)."
"(...)'Afterwards the chaplain - R.C. of course- Father McCabe, brought the Scotsmen back. Being Glasgow Catholics , they would follow a priest where they wouldn't follow an officer. The centre of the wood was impossible for either the Germans or your fellows to hold- a terrific concentration of artillery on it. The trees were splintered to matchwood. Late that night a brigade of the Seventh Division relieved the survivors; it included your First Batallion.'
(...) Nor did all the Scots behave badly, though I have since substantiated the flight from the wood of the a great many Cameronians, and their return under Faher McShane (not McCabe)."
(Tomado de "Goodbye to all that" de Robert Graves).
La foto es un cuadro que representa la última absolución que dio el Padre Gleeson al 2º Batallon de los Royal Munster Fusiliers antes de la batalla de Rue de Bois.
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