Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division

by

Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain


Report On Division Morale

During this period the division was suffering many exhaustion cases.  On October 26th the Chief of Staff requested a report on the morale situation with particular emphasis upon its effect upon the exhaustion cases.  I discussed with several chaplains the morale situation within their units.  At 1700 hours I reported to the Chief of Staff that the following difficulties were probably contributing factors towards the number of exhaustion cases with the Division.

1.       Some men returned to their units still carrying stitches from wounds.  Others originally evacuated as exhaustion cases had been returned to their units while still under influence of drugs.  Some exhaustion cases were among men who had suffered three and four times.

2.       A large number of the exhaustion cases came among our very best men who landed at Salerno and had been in every engagement since, and were simply worn out in combat.  A second large group is amongst our replacements, many of whom are too old for combat duty with Infantry.

3.       Lack of confidence in officers within lower echelon commands.  This is noticeable in one regiment.  In one battalion three of the four companies have experienced commanding officers and very few exhaustion cases. In the other two battalions one company is commanded by an officer commissioned shortly before we left Italy.  Another company has only one officer, and he was commissioned since our arrival in France.  While these officers may be good officers, the men have not had time to develop confidence in them as company commanders.

4.       The present field conditions, especially the effect of tree bursts in the woods, have a very serious effect upon menís nerves.

5.       Lack of confidence in the higher echelons of command.

(a) Men complained that Division Headquarters had informed new regimental commanders that they were yellow. In view of their achievements at the Rapido, and on other occasions they felt such criticism was unjust and unwarranted, when made by men with little battle experience.

(b) Some men were disappointed because they had so seldom seen the Division Commander in the field.

(c) It was unfortunate that after a day in which one battalion had suffered one quarters of the total casualties of the Corps, General Dahlquist should state to them that the Germans were only shooting in the air.

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Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

 
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