Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Report On Division Morale
During this period the division
was suffering many exhaustion cases. On October 26th the Chief of Staff
requested a report on the morale situation with particular emphasis upon
its effect upon the exhaustion cases. I discussed with several chaplains
the morale situation within their units. At 1700 hours I reported to the
Chief of Staff that the following difficulties were probably contributing
factors towards the number of exhaustion cases with the Division.
Some men returned to their units still carrying stitches from
wounds. Others originally evacuated as exhaustion cases had been returned
to their units while still under influence of drugs. Some exhaustion
cases were among men who had suffered three and four times.
A large number of the exhaustion cases came among our very best men
who landed at Salerno and had been in every engagement since, and were
simply worn out in combat. A second large group is amongst our
replacements, many of whom are too old for combat duty with Infantry.
Lack of confidence in officers within lower echelon commands. This
is noticeable in one regiment. In one battalion three of the four
companies have experienced commanding officers and very few exhaustion
cases. In the other two battalions one company is commanded by an officer
commissioned shortly before we left Italy. Another company has only one
officer, and he was commissioned since our arrival in France. While these
officers may be good officers, the men have not had time to develop
confidence in them as company commanders.
The present field conditions, especially the effect of tree bursts
in the woods, have a very serious effect upon menís nerves.
Lack of confidence in the higher echelons of command.
(a) Men complained that
Division Headquarters had informed new regimental commanders that they
were yellow. In view of their achievements at the Rapido, and on other
occasions they felt such criticism was unjust and unwarranted, when made
by men with little battle experience.
(b) Some men were disappointed
because they had so seldom seen the Division Commander in the field.
(c) It was unfortunate that
after a day in which one battalion had suffered one quarters of the total
casualties of the Corps, General Dahlquist should state to them that the
Germans were only shooting in the air.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission