Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
A Pilgrimage To Lourdes
On Thursday, March 29th, we
moved to a new area. We were now to be pulled out of combat and assigned
to occupy the Palatinate.
It seemed to me to be a good
time to do something special for two of my best Catholic chaplains. I
asked Chaplain Roemer and Chaplain Fenton, if they would like to make a
pilgrimage to Lourdes. They were enthusiastic about the idea. I told
them to select two drivers each (preferable Catholics).
They were to load one trailer
with gasoline to make sure of their return. The other trailer would carry
a supply of coffee, sugar, and cigarettes. By using these supplies for
barter they could get accommodations and food anywhere in France. These
were top priority items all over Europe.
I then sent a request for
travel orders to ETOUSA through command channels. I purposely did not
alert the Corps or Army Chaplains concerning my plans. When the orders
arrived, I immediately contacted both chaplains and advised them to leave
at once. They took my advice.
Later that morning I received a
call from the Seventh Army chaplain. He had just learned from the ETOUSA
chaplain that orders had been issued for two of my chaplains to travel to
Lourdes. This could not be done. If word got out that my chaplains had
gone to Lourdes, every chaplain in ETOUSA would want to go, too. The
orders must be cancelled.
I informed him that I was
sorry, but that the two chaplains had already left. We had no radio
contact with them. If he desired, I would ask another chaplain to try and
catch up with them and order them to return. If necessary I would go
myself. Of course we could not be sure of catching up with them before
they reached Lourdes.
He decided to drop the
subject. They made the trip. Chaplain Roemer brought me back a
souvenir. I was not able to arrange any future trips to Lourdes.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission