Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

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.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

redline.gif (912 bytes)
menu2.gif (2093 bytes)

This World War II history
is sponsored and maintained