Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

Winter In Cape Cod

In the matter of the Chaplain’s Fund we were very fortunate in having the co-operation of the Division staff officers.  When I was with the 43rd  Division at Camp Blanding, we were never able to share in the profits of the Post Exchange.  However, when I came to the 36th Division, I shared this problem with Colonel Steen and Lieutenant Colonel Steele.  They went to the meeting of the Exchange Council and secured money for us from the PX profits for the first time in the history of that camp.

Many other officers were generous in their gifts to our work.  When we were at Camp Edwards (Cape Cod, Mass) we were faced with some special problems.  Many of the men brought their wives from Texas to Massachusetts.  We arrived there in the summer.  Some of the men rented summer cottages on Cape Cod.  These houses were fine in the summer, but when the cold weather came they were really uninhabitable.  That winter was the coldest and snowiest I have ever known on the Cape.  I have had a home on the Cape for 30 years. Some of the wives were taken sick.  Some needed hospital care.  At that time the army made no provision in the base hospital for dependents. Many of the men came to me in distress.

At that time Lieutenant Colonel H. Miller Ainsworth came to me.  He put at my disposal unlimited funds to care for men in distress.  He made only one condition.  No one was to know where the money came from.  As I spent money I reported only the Case Number and the amount spent.  He never asked for names.  He always reimbursed me in full.  I suppose some of the men thought I was a millionaire.  It was his money and I have never before revealed his generosity.  Now that he is dead, I think it is only fair to report what really happened.

At Christmas time in 1942 Division Headquarters held a party for the children.  Mrs. Walker and I went to Boston to secure the gifts.  She was a great lady who tried to do everything possible to ease the burdens of the families of the men of her division.

At this time Chaplain Dan Laning built in the Division Headquarters Chapel one of the most beautiful crèches I have ever seen.  However, he got in trouble with one of the unit commanders.  He was a fine organist and he liked to practice.  Sometimes he had to practice at night – as late as ten o’clock.  The unit commander threatened to have him court-martialed.

It took some effort to cool him down. I wrote to the Chief of Chaplains direct, recommending that Chaplain Laning be made a Division Chaplain.  He was transferred.  We lost a good chaplain, but the XV Corps secured an efficient Division Chaplain.

During this period orders were issued that all men who could be spared from guard and fatigue details should be granted leave for Christmas and New Years.  In one of our units the Jewish men came forward and volunteered to do all the fatigue and guard details in order that all Christians could go home for the holidays.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

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