Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division

by

Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain


Chaplain Rotation

Colonel Claude J. Merrill, Division Chemical Warfare Officer and Chief of the Liaison Section, was accompanied by his assistant, Captain Arthur D. Gallupe.  They were riding down a road with Col. Merrill leading.  Col. Merrill passed over the road successfully.  Captain Gallupe who was following struck a mine and was instantly killed.  When we came for the body, we found that the French had secured a coffin and place the body in it.  The coffin was covered with flowers.  Some months later the athletic field at Division C.P. was named in honor of Captain Gallupe.

On September 16th we moved to a new C.P. at Luxeuil-les-Bains.  This was a famous French spa.  We were able to luxuriate in warm baths.  It was a great pleasure.  It did not last long.  On September 20th we moved to Polombiers, and on September 21st to a new position five miles southwest of Remiremont.  September 24th was a Sunday.  In addition to conducting two church services we moved to a new C.P. at Eloyes.

On September 28th G1 informed me that I was to represent the Division Commander at a funeral for eight Maquis at Eloyes.  I wrote our short address in English and then translated it into French.  I had our French liaison officer check it for good French idiom.  Accompanied by several Division staff officers I attended the funeral and brought the greeting of the Division Commander.  I delivered the address in French.  Those present seemed to appreciate our presence and our respect for their brave citizens who had been killed by the Germans.

On September 26th I submitted a memorandum to the Commanding General (Thru G1) concerning the policy of the division in the matter of rotation for chaplains.  I pointed out that only 42% of the officers who came with us overseas were still in the division.  The percentage of enlisted men still with us was 50%. The percentage of chaplains was 66 and 2/3%.  Every chaplain except myself had seen service with the infantry battalions.  (This included Chaplain Roemer who had been on duty with the 143rd Infantry when Chaplain Quinn was in the hospital.)  The other five chaplains who came overseas with us were accounted for as follows:

  • 1 Killed in action

  • 1 Wounded in action.

  • 3 Reclassified as physically unfit for combat duty, after several months of front line duty.

  • 2 of our replacements had also been killed in action.

In some battalions not over three or four of the original personnel were still on duty.  The chief of staff stated he did not consider any action necessary, but a memo was sent to all units stating that chaplains should be considered for rotation on the same basis as other officers.  On October 3rd Captain Douglas N. Boyd, Personnel Officer of the 143rd Infantry, told me that during the month of August the name of Chaplain Charles W. Arbuthnot had been submitted for rotation.   He had been told by Major Kelton that chaplains were not eligible for rotation and his name was withdrawn.

In an interview with Major Kelton and WO Anderson both denied having stated that chaplains were not eligible for rotation.  I do not know who told the truth.  I do know that no chaplain of the 36th Infantry Division was ever granted rotation.  The same was true for chaplainsí assistants.  I had tried unsuccessfully to secure rotation for Sergeant Sweigert.

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Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

 
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