Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

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.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

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