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Muddling Through: The Organisation of British Army Chaplaincy in World War One (Helion Studies in Military History) [Hardcover]

Peter Howson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Jan 2014 Helion Studies in Military History (Book 25)
As with many other aspects of the British army the outbreak of World War One started a process of change that was to result in a radically different provision of chaplaincy care once the war was over. Nothing was ever simple with chaplaincy as a number of churches becoming involved with the army, many for the first time. The structure was already under pressure before the war with the Catholic Church insisting on new rules for chaplaincy in the first decade of the twentieth century. The creation of the Territorial Force added a new dimension after 1907, bringing new players into the mix including the Jewish community. These chaplains challenged the traditional Garrison Church based ministry of the regulars. The book examines the muddled state of chaplaincy in August 1914 and looks at how chaplains were mobilized. It then reviews how organizational changes were often the result of pressure from the different churches. The unilateral decision of the Church of England, in July 1915, to leave the unified administration in France that had existed since August 1914 is examined in the light of the availability of the relevant volume of the diaries of Bishop Gwynne, a key participant in the change. Chapters also look at the experience of other Imperial forces and of the casualties suffered by chaplains. These all provide evidence of the expectations that various groups had of army chaplains. It is often forgotten that two chaplains were captured during the retreat from Mons in 1914. They were never far from the fighting throughout the war. The experiences of the war meant that the pre-war structure needed reform. The final chapter looks at the structure that was created in 1920 and then survived virtually unchanged until 2004. Army chaplaincy has always been a mix of Church, Army and State. Such a coming together inevitably lead to confusion. Not surprisingly one of the themes was the muddle that resulted. Even so army chaplaincy ended the war with a much higher profile than the one it had in 1914. This was recognised by the addition of 'Royal' creating the RAChD. Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and other faith groups, as well as military historians will find this book of interest as it overturns a number of myths and puts chaplaincy in its wider context.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company; Amended & Corrected Edition edition (22 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190998227X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909982277
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,933,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


For those interested in how the Church responded organisationally to the Great War this is a comprehensive and fascinating account. --Methodist Recorder

...provides carefully researched information about the organisation of First World War army chaplaincy. --Church Times

An essential book on this interesting subject. --Stand To!

About the Author

Peter Howson served as an army chaplain for twenty five years completing his service as the Principal of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre. During his time in the army he completed an MBA that looked at organisational structures in religious and voluntary bodies. When he returned to civilian ministry, as the Superintendent of the Inverness Methodist Circuit, he completed a PhD at Aberdeen University. His thesis discussed British army chaplaincy between 1960 and 2000. During the research he became convinced that the roots of contemporary army chaplaincy lay in decisions made during World War One and set out to discover how these had been reached. He is currently a Methodist minister in Surrey. He has contributed to the work of the Society for Army Historical Research and has been a member of its Council since 2012. He has recently contributed chapters to two books on chaplaincy, one about the wider World War One experience, and the other, Chaplains, Churches, and the Morality of Conflict: Military Chaplaincy in Contention, on contemporary chaplaincy in Afghanistan.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 13 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great book for people interested in the World War - it gives a different perspective and is really interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First class. 18 Aug 2013
By ww1
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just what I wanted. Now to start reading it.Books about the clergy during the first word war are not easy to come by and so this was a bit of a find.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars An important book on chaplaincy during the First World War 17 Oct 2013
By Peter C. Appelbaum - Published on
This book, by one of the United Kingdom’s foremost Protestant ministers who has also served in the army chaplaincy, is an important addition to the First World War chaplaincy literature. Its title is fitting: When war was declared, the chaplaincy of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland was muddled indeed. An important point raised in this book is the many Protestant branches in the United Kingdom, each with its own needs, doctrines, and idiosyncrasies. Howson traces development of the chaplaincy throughout the war, from 1914 when two chaplains were captured during the retreat from Mons, through late 1915, when an Inter-denominational Advisory Committee was formed, and the end of the war and its aftermath. Problems of the chaplaincy in Mesopotamia and Gallipoli are described, as well as inclusion of the Salvation Army. The Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) are considered separately. Duties of chaplains both on and behind the lines (mainly in field hospitals) are dealt with. And throughout, a comparison of Catholics and Anglicans, as compared with the various Protestant denominations. The reader is left fairly surprised that, despite the confusion which reigned, nevertheless the chaplaincy service functioned so well.

Peter Appelbaum
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