Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
More Rapid Movements
Within a week after my report
on morale, Lieutenant Wells Lewis, aide to General Dahlquist was killed in
action. He was the son of the famous author, Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy
Thompson, noted columnist. We secured a coffin and buried him in the
cemetery at Epinal.
Unless you had been there it
was impossible to comprehend the effect of tree bursts. Apparently at
that time the Germans were short of shrapnel for the artillery. They
found that when troops were in a wooded area, they could get much the same
effect by using fragmentation shells. When striking tree tops, these
shells would burst with the fragments striking downwards over a large
area. You never knew from what direction a fragment would come.
I know. It was my custom, when
conditions permitted, to visit the troops on the front line. I found it
helped the men. They thought that if the Division Chaplain was present,
when he didn’t have to be, conditions were probably not as bad as they
thought they were. They would say, “Keep out of sight. Don’t draw the
enemy fire.” They did not seem to realize that I had no more desire to
attract the enemy than they did, but one job of the chaplain is to
strengthen morale among his men.
On October 31st the Division
C.P. moved to Bruyeres. November 8th to LePanges. November 16th to
Chaplain Donnelly of the
Seventh Army arranged for us to exchange Chaplain Mehl for a young
Episcopalian Chaplain. Chaplain Mehl accepted the opportunity to go to
the 27th Evacuation Hospital. On November 5th we received our new
chaplain, Chaplain Thomas H. Harvey. He was assigned to the 141st
On November 25th Division C.P.
moved to Ban de Lavaline. On November 26th we moved again. This time to
St. Marie aux Mines in Alsace.
On November 27th Chaplain
Roemer received word that his mother was seriously ill. Division gave approval for a compassionate
leave for Chaplain Roemer and Lt. Colonel Travis took the application
directly to Seventh Army Headquarters. The leave was never approved.
Apparently no chaplain could be relieved from duty by rotation or by
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
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