Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

More Rapid Movements

Within a week after my report on morale, Lieutenant Wells Lewis, aide to General Dahlquist was killed in action.  He was the son of the famous author, Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson, noted columnist.  We secured a coffin and buried him in the cemetery at Epinal.

Unless you had been there it was impossible to comprehend the effect of tree bursts.  Apparently at that time the Germans were short of shrapnel for the artillery.  They found that when troops were in a wooded area, they could get much the same effect by using fragmentation shells.  When striking tree tops, these shells would burst with the fragments striking downwards over a large area.  You never knew from what direction a fragment would come.

I know.  It was my custom, when conditions permitted, to visit the troops on the front line.  I found it helped the men.  They thought that if the Division Chaplain was present, when he didnít have to be, conditions were probably not as bad as they thought they were.  They would say, ďKeep out of sight.  Donít draw the enemy fire.Ē  They did not seem to realize that I had no more desire to attract the enemy than they did, but one job of the chaplain is to strengthen morale among his men.

On October 31st the Division C.P. moved to Bruyeres.  November 8th to LePanges.  November 16th to Lavline.

Chaplain Donnelly of the Seventh Army arranged for us to exchange Chaplain Mehl for a young Episcopalian Chaplain.  Chaplain Mehl accepted the opportunity to go to the 27th Evacuation Hospital.  On November 5th we received our new chaplain, Chaplain Thomas H. Harvey.  He was assigned to the 141st Infantry.

On November 25th Division C.P. moved to Ban de Lavaline.  On November 26th we moved again.  This time to St. Marie aux Mines in Alsace.

On November 27th Chaplain Roemer received word that his mother was seriously ill. Division gave approval for a compassionate leave for Chaplain Roemer and Lt. Colonel Travis took the application directly to Seventh Army Headquarters.  The leave was never approved.  Apparently no chaplain could be relieved from duty by rotation or by compassionate leave.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

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