Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
In the report of
the Office of the Division Chaplain on “Operation Avalanche” it was noted
that the Division Chaplain landed with the Commanding General’s party.
Many of the unit chaplains landed early in the operation coming with the
second and third waves. A few chaplains landed as late as D2 or D3.
was evacuated to Africa as wounded. One chaplain’s assistant was
evacuated to Africa as wounded. One assistant was killed in action. The
reports of most commanding officers indicated that the work of the
chaplains was highly satisfactory.
who landed early did the most effective work. Several chaplains had to
take the initiative in handling of the bodies, because the stench caused
enlisted men to retch and hesitate. The work of Chaplain Fenton was
reported as superior. An adverse report was made on one Chaplain.
There was a
marked increase in religious interest among men going into or engaged in
combat. Many civilians came to our religious services.
recommended that not more than one cemetery be established within a radius
of fifty miles and that bodies be evacuated by truck. (Previous
regulations had been based on World War I experience and provided for new
cemeteries at ten to twenty miles radius). Later on we had cemeteries two
hundred miles apart. The new program worked very well.
I am proud of the
chaplains of the 36th Infantry Division. They were hard working and
devoted men. They faithfully served their country and their God. I
remember seeing them come back from the hospital still wearing bandages.
Bandages on their heads. Bandages on their feet. Bandages on their legs.
Chaplain Murphy who went AWOL from the hospital in order to come back to
us. His head was still bandaged. I told him that we had already
requisitioned a replacement.
He asked me, “Why
are you wearing that silver oak leaf, if you can’t take care of your own
I thought it was
a good question and told him to stick around for a day or two. Then I
contacted the Seventh Army Chaplain for permission to keep Chaplain
Murphy. After some discussion, he agreed to secure orders for Chaplain
Murphy to stay with us. The hospital did not prefer any charges against
the chaplain for going AWOL. I guess they thought it would do them no
On a previous occasion some enlisted men had gone AWOL from the hospital
to return to the division. The hospital was upset by such action and
requested their return for disciplinary action. General Walker decided
that any man who wanted to return to combat after having been wounded in
action belonged in the division. The men stayed with us.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission