Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Last Full Month With The 36th
June 6th was declared an
official holiday. I do not remember why, but I do know that it was the
only holiday when our office was closed while overseas.
On June 13th the Division C.P.
moved to Laupheim, Germany.
On June 20th I received word
from Chaplain Goss that the Chaplain of Peninsular Base Section in Italy
had informed him that Pastor Martin Niemoller had been rescued from a
German concentration camp. He was alive and well and wanted word of his
release forwarded to his family.
Pastor Niemoller had been a
submarine officer in World War I. When Hitler came to power he had been a
leader of the Confessing Synod of the Evangelical Church. He preached
throughout Germany against the Nazi policies. He was arrested and sent to
a concentration camp. Our forces released him. I relayed the message to
Seventh Army headquarters.
On June 23rd I received a call
from Chaplain Decker of the Twelfth Armored Division asking me to change
places with him. Word had been received that the 36th Division was to be
assigned occupation duty in Germany. The XII Armored Division was
scheduled to go to the Pacific.
Chaplain Decker was a regular
army chaplain. He wanted to stay in Germany. He had gone to the VI Army
Group for authority for the transfer. They had approved subject to the
approval of the Seventh Army. The next day Chaplain Donnelly of the
Seventh Army called me for my reaction to the transfer. For months I had
watched the regular army and the WPPA in action. I did not think there
was much use trying to oppose the high command. I was a high point man.
The critical score was 85 points. I had 130 points. I probably would be
sent home in any case.
In addition like most chaplains
of the 36th Division at that time I was unhappy with the attitude within
the division towards chaplains. Several chaplains had requested
transfer. One wanted to go to CBI. One asked for transfer to the
Pacific. Chaplain Roemer had been refused emergency leave because of the
illness of his mother. The Red Cross had reported that she had not long
to live. No chaplain of the 36th Division was ever placed on rotation.
Fifteen chaplains made the
landing at Salerno with us. Chaplain Davis was wounded in action the
first day of the invasion. He was evacuated to the hospital and never
returned. Chaplain Harley McDaniel was killed in action. Chaplains Dulin,
Francis, Franklin, and Phinnney had all been evacuated to the hospital and
had been unable to return. Chaplains Drury, Fenton, Lehne, and Mehl had
been transferred by Chaplain Donnelly to positions in hospitals where they
would have a chance for promotion. Chaplains Arbuthnot and Hall were high
point men and went back to the United States. Chaplain Quinn, Chaplain
Roemer and I were the only men left. Both Chaplain Roemer and Chaplain
Quinn had been turned down in their attempts to transfer.
I told Chaplain Donnelly that
he could take whatever action seemed wise to him.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission