Wednesday, April 12, 2017


One of my favorite TV programs of all time is MASH and one of my favorite characters is Father Mulcahy played by William Christopher.   He portrayed what I consider to be the essence of a good Chaplain.

A question ... and I pose it as a nominal Protestant.   How was it that the Catholic Chaplains in the military were a cut above their Protestant counterparts? 

During my time with 1 RNZIR I can think of Fathers Jim McNeil, Ray Stachurski (Stack) and John Carde as absolute stand outs.   On the Protestant side the only name that comes readily to mind is Wakahuihui Vercoe.

It has been suggested to me that the Catholics tended to send their best while the C of E and Protestant Chaplains were often also rans 'promoted' sideways. 

An absolute exception to the rule were the Salvation Army Chaplains/Field Staff  in Vietnam.   They were outstanding.   They had our total respect.

Times may have changed.   I hope they have.   Feel free to disagree.   Would welcome your comment.


Shelldrake said...

I agree. I'm C of E bUT the Rock Choppers were memorable. I think their effectiveness was in part by virtue if the fact they did not have a family tagging along.

Anonymous said...

Shelldrake....very good point, never thought of that. Always thought of Vercoe as a left footer but religion is not my strong point.

Lord Egbut

George said...

In the RNZN (1950s) we had Padre Harry Taylor.
Bit of a legend that man.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the Catholic chaplains were a cut above.

Talking of MASH, by some coincidence I saw the movie version at a US hospital in Saigon, and I watched the last TV episode at a US Officers' Club in Wonju South Korea.

Stewart 61

The Veteran said...

George ... never met Harry Taylor but a relation of mine through marriage, Ian (Boff) Stronach, one of yours, spoke very highly of him.

The Veteran said...

I am reminded of a newly appointed Chaplain (no names) who tried to charge a soldier for not saluting him. The Chaplain ended up being marched in front of the CO who was God.

Bob said...

A bit of an aside but my father always used to support the Sallies - he was a Sapper in WWII and claimed that you never saw the NAAFI near the front but the Sallies usually were there serving up very welcome cups of tea..

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Vet @ 1142

I hope his name was not Don.

Anonymous said...

Vet, you may benefit by this book "Keith Harper, Man with a Mission" by Susan MacPherson
Harper was a C of E padre who served in North Africa and Italy.
He was no wilting violet. Prior to his service he was vicar of S. Westland. He covered his 200km long district on horseback often swimming his horse across bridgeless rivers to visit his parishoners.
A man among men like the Rev Wi Huata. When he was killed in action at Cassino he left behind a wife and young children.

The Westland RSA commemorated him with a lectern at St James church in Franz Josef, beside the altar scene that featured on the 1945 'Peace' stamp.


The Veteran said...

Mick ... thank you. My comment was from another era.