Church of Scotland army chaplains in the second world war
Coulter, David George
This thesis is the first study of Church of Scotland chaplains serving with the Army during the Second World War. It explores the way in which the Church of Scotland accepted the challenge of the Second World War and how the Presbyterian chaplains were recruited, trained and how they performed their ministerial duties under wartime conditions. The thesis opens with an examination of the Church of Scotland during the inter-war years, with particular attention to the background of those ministers who were ordained in the 1930s and who were later recruited as Army Chaplains from 1939-45. The discussion highlights pacifism, anti-Semitism, and the Scottish response on the German Church struggle. The thesis then considers from a Scottish perspective the history of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department and the involvement of the Church of Scotland Chaplains' Committee in looking after the interests of Presbyterian chaplains and Scottish soldiers at home and overseas. The thesis considers the factors which led ministers to enlist as chaplains, and assesses the training which they received. It shows how Scottish chaplains integrated with both officers and men and the contribution they made to the moral and spiritual life of many units. Inevitably a number of chaplains were captured in the course of their duty and taken as prisoners of war. This thesis includes a chapter on ministry in the POW camps. The thesis includes two case studies on the wartime experiences of the Very Rev Prof. T.F. Torrance and the Very Rev Dr. R. Selby Wright. Torrance was enlisted into the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens organisation and saw active service in Italy. Selby Wright meanwhile enlisted as a TA chaplain in 1939 but was later seconded to the BBC as the "Radio Padre". Finally, this thesis concludes with a chapter in which the chaplains are allowed to reflect on their wartime experience and an assessment is made of the overall work and worth of this particular wartime ministry.