1. Onward, Christian soldiers
My grandfather Tom Pym was a chaplain in World War One. He was one of over 5,000 men of God who left their pulpits to serve alongside the soldiers.
Tom and his fellow chaplains were totally unprepared for what they were about to experience. It transformed how they saw their role during war. They went from holding services far from the battlefield, to risking their lives on or near the front line - 168 chaplains lost their lives during the course of the war.
Their actions not only changed the way that Army commanders and ordinary soldiers thought about them, it also defined a new role for chaplains in the British Army.
3. Serving on the front line
As time passed, chaplains like my grandfather felt compelled to go to the battlefield, where they faced the brutal reality of war. Meanwhile the British Army's Commander-in-Chief, General Haig, was devising a front line role for the chaplains.
4. A test of faith
The horrors of the Western Front were hard to stomach for many chaplains. Tom faced his greatest test when he had to stay up all night, ministering to a young man sentenced to be shot at dawn for desertion.
5. Saving men's souls
As fighting intensified on the Western Front, soldiers struggled with the scale of death on the battlefields.
Chaplains played a crucial role in organising the burial of the dead. It was a difficult task. Sometimes it took weeks to reach the corpses of the fallen men.
However, it was very important to the morale of the surviving soldiers that their comrades received a decent funeral.
Every second spent on the battlefield was dangerous, so the chaplains conducted the shortest of services, such as this simple prayer, recited quickly by The Rev. Ernest Crosse:
“Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours”.
The Unknown Warrior
After the war, one chaplain helped the whole nation to grieve.
Reverend David Railton had the idea for the grave of the Unknown Warrior, the tomb in Westminster Abbey that contains the remains of an unidentified soldier. It was a place that grieving families, especially those whose loved ones' bodies had never been found, could try to find some solace.
6. Chaplains today
Modern Army chaplains operate close to the battlefield, like their WW1 counterparts. But how has their role changed in the last 100 years?