View Full Version : Were All Forces Chaplains C of E?

26th Dec 2009, 08:39
The question were all Forces Chaplains C of E came up in conversation over Xmas. We believe the official religion of the realm is C of E.
I did not take a great deal of notice when I was involved but I vaguely remember that at Yatesbury there was more than one church building and various religions were invited to leave the parade square when prayers were read out.
Can anybody help?

henry crun
26th Dec 2009, 08:44
I cannot remember if there were churches for other denominations, but I can remember the parade order before prayers "Fall out the Roman Catholics, Jews, and Non Christians".

This was the signal for many to march to the rear of the square and have a smoke while C of E prayers were said.

26th Dec 2009, 08:54
In my early days, C of E, RC and OD - Other denominations. The latter, by the time I rejoined in 1980, had become CSFC - Church of Scotland and Free Churches. And as to the order for falling out, who else remembers the CWO at Cranwell, (the ginger-haired one before Johnny Garbett, and whose name escapes me) in about 1964 giving the order on parade "Roman Catholics and other Non-Christians, Fall Out!". Titters in the crowd.

26th Dec 2009, 18:33
In 19 years service, I met C of E, RC, Church of Scotland, and Methodist padres - not local priests/ministers who did a bit here and there for the local station, but uniform wearing with relative rank, PQ & RE - (as it was then) trained full-timers. Most of them were bl**dy good fun, too!

Hudson Bay
26th Dec 2009, 18:58
Are you talking about Army Scripture Readers (ASR)'s or Chaplains? Many people get mixed up about who and what their roles are.

26th Dec 2009, 21:28
I was talking "Chaplains"

26th Dec 2009, 22:35
Forces chaplains certainly included RC priests among their number, although you would only find them at the larger formations. In the 1960s one RC padre at Cranwell was a popular member of the officers' mess, great fun, and a leading light in the station flying club.

And the senior Royal Navy RC chaplain of a few years ago, now retired from the Service, is the very popular priest in our parish in Surrey. Get to Mass early if you want a seat!

26th Dec 2009, 23:10
We had both C fo E and RC chaplains at Locking when I was in training in the early eighties.

Robert Cooper
27th Dec 2009, 02:56
We had all sorts when i was in training, including burmese. It was common place on Sunday Parade to hear "fall out Roman catholics and all others"

27th Dec 2009, 08:07
Synthetic wrote:

We had both C fo E and RC chaplains at Locking when I was in training in the early eighties.

Hey we've got a sprog in the camp. Ex 96th myself at Locking.

27th Dec 2009, 10:45
When I joined at Halton in 1947, in ignorance, I had put CofE on my docs and it did not take long to realise that come Sunday morning Church Parades, the fall out RCs, ODs and Jews meant that that lot did not have to march down to church and back again, they made their own way. I applied to become an OD (Baptist) and after much huffing and fuffing it was granted and Sunday morning became a gentle stroll down the hill and back again. The only drawback was that I missed the games of Brag etc. in the back row of the pews at the CofE church! There were Padres of all the various religions there to keep our young minds pure and of course and there were weekly visits by the bible reading bunch which one tried to dodge. I remember that one came on an autocycle and he could never work out how the perfectly serviceable machine that he arrived on would not start when he tried to leave-----but then we were going to become F2e's and had to practice somewhere.

27th Dec 2009, 11:00
The attached gives an overview of the UK and Wikipedia a world wide view
BBC - Religions - Christianity: Army chaplains (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/priests/armychaplains_1.shtml)

28th Dec 2009, 16:03
If my memory serves me correctly, back in 1955 at RAF Weeton, in addition to the C of E Chaplain, there was a Jewish Chaplain, if that is the word. I seem to recall his name was F/O Syna.

28th Dec 2009, 16:51
From my memories of 18 years of service in the RAF, most of the chaplains were C of E. I would guess that this simply represented the largest "congregation".

However, I do remember meeting the senior C of S chaplain who appeared on the flightdeck of my Belfast one day wearing a dog collar and also a set of RAF wings. When I suggested that he had therefore covered both qualifications for the entry into heaven, he told me that he had been a York captain during the Berlin Airlift before he had decided to log his flying time from the pulpit!

I also got to know an RC padre in Nicosia in 1964 or thereabouts. Unusually, he was a Benedictine monk who came from Ireland. He had a PPL and was also a qualified jumping bean (paratrooper). I think he also played rugby for Ireland at some point. Despite the fact that I came from the opposition (C of S), he and I became great friends and also got into a modicum of trouble from time to time.

As a result of one of our expeditions, he was sent to El Adem for 6 weeks as a penance by, as he described it, "I/C GOD; NEAF".

From which I deduced that "I/C GOD; NEAF" was RC and was also a Gp Capt.

29th Dec 2009, 09:04
The Irish Padre who was a rugby international may have been the above, a very special man. After deep research (looked it up on Wikipedia) it shows the following
Robin Roe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Roe)
He went on perhaps the greatest Lions rugby tour ever to South Africa in 1955 with Morgan, Butterfield, Davies, O'Reilly etc. This was when the two countries were really close, they had fought on our side in WWII, supported us financially and even had a member of the War Cabinet. Apartheid was not a matter for guests and we were still a great nation in those pre-Suez days. It was a magic tour.

29th Dec 2009, 09:53
Sorry, not Robin Roe I'm afraid.

29th Dec 2009, 11:38
shack, that type of apprentoid nouse was still around when I was at RAFC in 1968.

Following the demise of TSR2 and F-111K, a number of 'Supertechs' were being re-roled as Flt Cdts. Thinking they could spot a skive opportunity, they declared they were 'agnostic'.

"Ahh, that's a pity, you'll have to march to church with the CofE and stand outside during the service, chaps." announced the Flt Sgt.

Not to be outdone, they then said that they hadn't had much of a religious upbringing, so needed to have a serious discussion about religion. Yes, really!

Then announced that they all wanted to become Roman Catholics. The left-footer sky pilot was ecstatic and seemingly on the verge of writing to the Pope until, being wise to the ways of man, he thought "Hmmm.......all ex-apprentices. There's probably more to this!"

It seems that they'd found out that the RCs gathered in the Junior Mess foyer at 0930, wandered along to Mass, then were done and dusted by about 1030. CSFC formed up at 1000 and marched to their god-shop, but were out again by 1100. Whereas the CofE had a parade and inspection at 1030, then marched to the Church (often spotting the RCs on their way back to the Junior Mess); if we were out by 1200 we were lucky!

So the RC padre told them that the entry into Roman Catholicism would involve rather more than ticking a box on the relevant form. Their bluff called, our happy ex-apprentices admitted to their actual religion and that was the end of it. At least the RC padre saw the funny side of it though.

29th Dec 2009, 13:44
There was a padre on my all-arms parachute course. He was very Holy, always making the soft answer that turneth away wrath, never getting into an argument, got knocked down in seconds in the "milling", always helping others, volunteering to carry their kit in Wales, etc etc etc.

He kept it up during the parachuting phase at Abingdon, until the night jump.

Someone behind him in the stick, heavier and descending faster, got his boots right into the middle of the Padre's canopy which then partially collapsed.

As the Padre disappeared rapidly earthwards the sky was rent with dreadful profanities from the Holy lips. "Praise the Lord", we all thought, "he's human after all. If he survives he'll be a better person". He did, and he was.

To get back to the point of the thread, he was, of course, a Roman Catholic. An Anglican would not have known the words used by the RC Padre.

29th Dec 2009, 17:01

That's my man. I last saw him in a pub near Sutton Bank. He was teaching at Ampleforth College at the time. I used to go up to Sutton Bank with my RAFGSA gliding club and used to give him a call. Then he disappeared.

The story was that he had got himself married and had become a solicitor!

I've just done a bit of googling and have discovered that he sadly died on 10/07/08.

So, I don't suppose it would hurt to say goodbye to Fr. Leander Duffy. You were a great chap and I will never forget one outing, in particular, on the pillion of the BMW!

31st Dec 2009, 21:49
Alisoncc - not a sprog, but a DE (now no-one likes me:()

DST32 to be specific.

As a Cornish agnostic, I used to get sent off to CSFC. :confused:

31st Dec 2009, 22:35
I lived in Plymouth 55 to 65, a very good friend of ours was Free Church RN Chaplain by the name of Gwilym Williams, in fact he officiated with the Minister of our Baptist Church at my sisters wedding.
I always remember he ( and his wife Peggy ) was so down to earth and un faized by anything ( must of been the Navy ) I used to play rugby on a playing field which was overlooked by their house, and yes I got proper refreshments at half time !
Happy New Year

1st Jan 2010, 11:57
The only Chaplain I was really aware of when I was in the RAF was at Yatesbury in 1956.
The main justification of Yatesbury was that it trained large numbers of radio tradesman, the majority of who were National Servicemen who were by definition the brightest and the best qualified. Many had either just left or were about to attend advanced learning institutions. Their long, poorly paid, haul through academia and apprenticeship was now to be followed by giving up another two years of their lives for poorly paid service for their country.
Their view was they had been snatched from their homes under duress, sent to a place called Cardington and been given a lot of smelly, ill-fitting clothes. Then they were shanghaied for eight weeks to a place where ignorant people shouted at them and made them carry guns round a tarmac patch. To compound these indignities they were sent to a remote place in Wiltshire which consisted of acres of temporary wooden huts sited on the dip slope of a scarp. The induction day was always Wednesdays when it was generally raining.
On the Wednesday they had to carry their blue cards around all of the check in places, this covered miles and the rain was normally fine enough to penetrate any clothing except the Desert Ratsí friend, the ground sheet.
This started the long weeks spent on various courses with little pay in an isolated area and with little chance of getting home at weekends (although some entrepreneurs sold seats in their cars, one aptly named Jock Stein ran a car to Glasgow).
Yatesbury was so large that it had six messes, various NAAFIs and one Malcolm Club. One of the sanctuaries for the broke and intellectually starved was the Church in Y Lines run by the above-mentioned gentlemen and his group of mature, twin-setted, lady volunteers. They dispensed free hot drinks and biscuits and showed movies by the American Dr Bob starring in a series about the wonders of nature. (This was before Hans and Lotte). They had a library, a book exchange and a Film Appreciation Society. I recall talks on John dos Passos, Studs Lonigan and Marcel Proust. It was also the first place I saw Nosferatu and the Jannings version of Blue Angel. All of this without pressure to become a full-time Christian.
I have read the obituary of Hugh Rees and note he was something of a clerical high flyer but he was anything but that with us. I recall a nice man dealing with literally thousands of bright young men, many with a chip on their shoulder, in a warm and friendly fashion. I am sure he was typical of his profession.
If Hugh had a vice it may have been pride, one of his grateful congregation had given him a bell which was big enough to join the ring at Salisbury Cathedral. He would joyfully have it tolled in the early hours of Sunday mornings, wakening poorly paid airmen in their freezing wooden huts after a night on the finest Wiltshire scrumpy. This was not a popular practice and it was noted that there were gaps of weeks when this did not happen. It transpired that graduating courses would remove the bell rope and either burn or bury it until someone else donated a new one.
As Yatesbury is now farmland I often gain comfort from the thought that future archaeologists searching in the Avebury/Silbury Hill area may discover a scattered cache of buried bell ropes and postulate a cult of bell worshippers.

3rd Jan 2010, 14:51
Any other Cathode Followers?:)

4th Jan 2010, 16:21
ColinB, you are quite incorrect in believing that the official religion of the realm is C of E. It is the established church in England only and as the Armed Services are British, not English, then all religions are represented in the chaplaincy. I know from experience that C of E, C of S, Baptist and RC all have full-time chaplains. I've never come across a Rabbi though and in my time there was no Moslem representation either, although that may have changed by now.

4th Jan 2010, 22:01
I have no real knowledge of religious affairs and whilst respecting another persons beliefs I am puzzled. I always believed that Henry VIII broke away from the Papacy. I also believed that it was a pre-requisite to joining the British forces that one attested loyalty to the Queen, who is the head of State and hence the Church of England.
Is it possible that other religions are tolerated?

5th Jan 2010, 18:32
Henry VIII was King of England long before the Union of the Crowns and the subsequent Act of Union (of the Scottish and English Parliaments) which established the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. You share the same misconception as many other Englishmen that the UK equals England. It does not and Elizabeth Windsor is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. SHE IS NOT QUEEN OF ENGLAND quite simply because there is no Kingdom of England and therefore no such role. Equally there is no established religion in the United Kingdom, in which respect England and Scotland maintain their quite separate religious establishments.

You are however right in that everyone joining the UK Armed Forces takes an oath of allegiance to the monarch as commander in chief (as I did when I was commissioned into the RAF many years ago) but that is quite different to an oath of allegiance to any religion.

5th Jan 2010, 19:26
Current Chaplaincy arrangements are 282 chaplains of different denominations serving 181,000 members of the armed forces. There is approximately 1 Christian chaplain for every 650 Christian (nominal or participative). As can be seen below moves are underway to ensure chaplains are available from non-Christian faiths:

Army : Regular Chaplain - British Army Website (http://www.army.mod.uk/chaplains/career/1223.aspx)

RAF : RAF Chaplains - Royal Air Force Chaplains Branch (http://www.raf.mod.uk/chaplains/)

Navy : http://http://www.rncom.mod.uk/Chaplaincy/Chapliancy_Index.aspx

RC Chaplaincy (been around since 1858) : Bishopric of the Forces / The Church in England and Wales / Catholic Church / Root - Catholic Church of England and Wales (http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/ccb/catholic_church/the_church_in_england_and_wales/bishopric_of_the_forces)

Methodist Chaplaincy : The Methodist Church of Great Britain | Chaplaincy to the Armed Forces (http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentoworld.content&cmid=1884)

There are also Baptist Chaplains.

Muslim RN Chaplain : News : Religion in the Navy : RN Life : Training and People : Royal Navy (http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/training-and-people/rn-life/religion-in-the-navy/news/muslim-chaplain-to-hm-forces-visits-hms-raleigh)

Jewish Chaplain : Ministry of Defence | Defence News | People In Defence | First Jewish Civilian Chaplain to the Military (http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/PeopleInDefence/FirstJewishCivilianChaplainToTheMilitary.htm)

5th Jan 2010, 23:27
You share the same misconception as many other Englishmen that the UK equals England
Tut, Tut, As I was born in Inverness could you also be labouring under a misconception.
I always thought that irrespective of race, creed or rank we all took the Queen's shilling and did the Queen's business.

6th Jan 2010, 16:32
There was a fairly unusual chaplain who was both an Anglian chaplain and later after conversion a Roman Catholic one.

He was Fr. Brian Measures a former priest (Canon) in the Anglican Church, who converted to Catholicism in 1987. As an Anglian priest he was for nearly 10 years a Territorial Army chaplain who served in the RAChD (TA) from 1971 to 1980, first as chaplain to the 6th Bn The Royal Anglian Regiment and from 1975 to 1980 as chaplain to 219 (Wessex) General Hospital RAMC, Keynsham.
He was also attached for varying periods to HQ 2 Armoured Division, BAOR at 7 RHA Osnabruck and British Military Hospital Hannover; RA Tidworth & Larkhill and at Bulford and Netheravon.

In 1996 he was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood and appointed assistant to Bishop Walmsley (Catholic Bishop to the Forces).

Fr Brian who did his national service in the RAF, qualified as a glider pilot in the ATC at the age of seventeen. He later gained his pilotís licence with night rating and flew his own four-seater Beechcraft Musketeer for recreation in Britain and trips to the Continent. He was Anglican chaplain to the local Royal Air Force Association for a number of years, a post which he offered to resign when he became a Catholic priest. The members of the Association asked him to continue as their chaplain.

At his ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood he commented that he didnít think too many priests in the UK had a pilotís licence and owned their own plane!

I knew him as a personal friend.

Fr. Brian Measures died on the 8th May 2007.

6th Jan 2010, 16:41
he commented that he didnít think too many priests in the UK had a pilotís licence and owned their own plane!"Nearer my God to thee" ? .......... :p

11th Jan 2010, 10:40
I am still confused over a couple of things.
On parades when the SWO shouted out "Fall out the Roman Catholics, Jews, and Non Christians". who was left remaining. I always thought they were C of E.
Was the prayer a multi-denomination blessing? Obviously not.
Are various religions still in 2010 invited to leave the parade until the service is over?

Double Zero
18th Jan 2010, 00:04
I read of an incident -WWII - when the station chaplain saw a bunch of chaps in the gymn, larkng about with a ' medicine ball ' ; said chaplain decided to join in for jollity, and mistook the ball for a football or similar and gave it a really hearty kick...

The cracking of his ankle bones was very audible, as moreso were the expletives, which left even the groundcrew astonished.

19th Jan 2010, 14:07
During Church Parades at Kirton Lindsey in the winter of 1955 the order used to be given: "FALL OUT ROMAN CATHOLICS AND JEWS" before the religious proceedings began. Us poor C of E's were forced to endure another freezing twenty minutes before we too could escape to the warmth of the barrack blocks.

No doubt this would be considered racist in these enlightened times!

19th Jan 2010, 18:15
he commented that he didnít think too many priests in the UK had a pilotís licence and owned their own plane!

I know a few - the Flyer Forum even has at least one 'chaplain'

I understand from a RN chaplain that where there is only one based/visiting chaplain then a multi-denominational service takes place first, afterwhich the chaplain may celebrate a service according to his/her denomination.

19th Jan 2010, 22:22

I think the fact that Fr. Brian owned his own plane was the point he was trying to emphasise.

Union Jack
19th Jan 2010, 22:54
.... you are quite incorrect in believing that the official religion of the realm is C of E. It is the established church in England only and as the Armed Services are British, not English, then all religions are represented in the chaplaincy

Very well put Redbarron, and in fact HM The Queen, the Head of our Armed Forces, has an interesting role with regard to both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland as defined at Queen and the Church (http://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/QueenandChurch/QueenandChurch.aspx)

In practical terms, she normally worships with the C of E in England and Wales, and with the C of S in Scotland and, correspondingly, the most senior Service Chaplains of each church are normally appointed Queen's Honorary Chaplains and wear special clerical dress and badges.

Interestingly enough, Royal Navy Chaplains (and Chaplains of what used to be called the "Old Commonwealth" navies) neither hold Service ranks nor wear badges of rank, since they are deemed to have assumed the rank of the person with whom they are conversing, whether they are an AB or an Admiral. And, oh yes, Chaplains RN serving with an RM Commando must gain their "Green Beret"!:ok:


PS As the midnight hour approaches, I am a little too tired to embark on any "dits" about RN Chaplains .....

5th Jul 2010, 20:01
I think the recollections of most of us reflect the days of large numbers of service personnel and large units. I understand at one time there was over 10,000 people at Yatesbury and large numbers at St Athan.
Are there still forces religious advisers on larger units? I cannot see them being on smaller units. On stations with no padre/chaplain do they use the services of locals? It would solve denomination problem

6th Jul 2010, 07:17
reflect the days of large numbers of service personnel and large units

In the early 1970s RAF Nicosia was a small unit with a Sqn Ldr CO, but we had both C of E and RC Padres who shared the Station Church.