The Clergy in Khaki: New Perspectives on British Army Chaplaincy in the First World War, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Clergy in Khaki

New Perspectives on British Army Chaplaincy in the First World War, 1st Edition

By Edward Madigan

Edited by Michael Snape


238 pages

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British army chaplains have not fared well in the mythology of the First World War. Like its commanders they have often been characterized as embodiments of ineptitude and hypocrisy. Yet, just as historians have reassessed the motives and performance of British generals, this collection offers fresh insights into the war record of British chaplains. Drawing on the expertise of a dozen academic researchers, the collection offers an unprecedented analysis of the subject that embraces military, political, religious and imperial history. The volume also benefits from the professional insights of chaplains themselves, several of its contributors being serving or former members of the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department. Providing the fullest and most objective study yet published, it demonstrates that much of the post-war hostility towards chaplains was driven by political, social or even denominational agendas and that their critics often overlooked the positive contribution that chaplains made to the day-to-day struggles of soldiers trying to cope with the appalling realities of industrial warfare and its aftermath. As the most complete study of the subject to date, this collection marks a major advance in the historiography of the British army, of the British churches and of British society during the First World War, and will appeal to researchers in a broad range of academic disciplines.


'The Clergy in Khaki is an excellent resource, and I very much hope that its authors will publish further research on this fascinating and much misunderstood subject.' Church Times 'The book is worthwhile and very well researched …' The Pastoral Review 'Anticipating celebrations of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this timely volume provides an excellent read, blending perceptive analysis with vibrant narrative. The editors' introduction provides a masterly overview of developing scholarship, which serves to rehabilitate the performance of these ministers in khaki.' Baptist Quarterly '…naturally evens out perspectives, introducing the issue of army chaplaincy and the chapters of the book in a model opening essay by the editors. And its range is wide…' Modern Believing ’This stimulating collection usefully broadens and extends knowledge and understanding of the clergy in the Great War.’ History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: British army chaplaincy in context, Edward Madigan and Michael Snape; The nonconformist chaplain in the First World War: the importance of a new phenomenon, J.H. Thompson; Free Church revivalism in the British army during the First World War, Neil Allison; A Welsh perspective on army chaplaincy during the First World War: the letters of Abraham Rees Morgan MC, Ieuan Elfryn Jones; Garrisoning the nation’s soul: Calvinism, Douglas Haig and Scottish Presbyterian chaplaincy on the Western Front, David Coulter; The theology of ’Woodbine Willie’ in context, Stuart Bell; Chaplains in context: British army padres and the ’bureaucracy of paternalism’ in the First World War, Gary Sheffield; Catholic army chaplaincy and episcopal tensions: the Vatican and the appointment of an Episcopus Castrensis, James Hagerty; The First World War and the chaplains of British India, Michael Snape; Visions from the Front: discourse on the post-war world among Anglican army chaplains in 1918, Peter Howson; ’Shell-shocked prophets’: Anglican army chaplains and post-war reform in the Church of England, Linda Parker; The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department and the legacy of the First World War, Alan Robinson; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Michael Snape is Reader in Religion, War and Society at the University of Birmingham. He has published extensively on this theme and his books include The Back Parts of War: The YMCA Memoirs and Letters of Barclay Baron, 1915-1919 (2009); The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department 1796-1953: Clergy Under Fire (2008); God and the British Soldier: Religion and the British Army in the First and Second World Wars (2005) and The Redcoat and Religion: The Forgotten History of the British Soldier from the Age of Marlborough to the eve of the First World War (2005). Edward Madigan is Resident Historian at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and a visiting fellow to the Changing Character of War Programme at the University of Oxford. His work combines religious, military and cultural history and he has published articles and book chapters on a range of themes relating to British identity and culture in wartime and the British and Irish experience of the Great War. His first book, Faith Under Fire: Anglican Army Chaplains and the Great War, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in First World War History

The First World War is a subject of perennial interest to historians and is often regarded as a watershed event, marking the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the 'modern' industrial world. The sheer scale of the conflict and massive loss of life means that it is constantly being assessed and reassessed to examine its lasting military, political, sociological, industrial, cultural and economic impact. Reflecting the latest international scholarly research, the Routledge Studies in First World War History series provides a unique platform for the publication of monographs on all aspects of the Great War. Whilst the main thrust of the series is on the military aspects of the conflict, other related areas (including cultural, visual, literary, political and social) are also addressed. Books published are aimed primarily at a post-graduate academic audience, furthering exciting recent interpretations of the war, whilst still being accessible enough to appeal to a wider audience of educated lay readers.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century