tv World War II Combat Chaplains CSPAN August 13, 2014 11:57pm-12:52am EDT
off-guard. it leads to furious fighting for a period of three to four days but it is a dismal failure losing about 1/3rd of its armor and when it's over it's clear the germans have to get out of normandy or risk everything that's left. what the americans are hoping to do is to encircle the remains of that german army and destroy it. patton has had to siphon off formations in brittney which he doesn't want to do. that's the original plan. get the supply ports. well, they are going to have garrisons that are told to fight till the end and destroy the port cities when they have a chance. the rest of patton's army will swing around eastward and he is hoping to swing them toward the landing beaches and snap that shut and join hands with the 21st army group with british and
kcanadians coming from the othe direction. eventually bradley will tell them to halt. this is a controversial decision at normandy because it's thought that it allows germans to escape who otherwise might not have. well, regardless of that, you do end up with an encirclement eventually by about august 18th, 1944. tens of thousands of germans had escaped. some tafrnks and vehicles had escaped. the two sides do join hands in a town called shamboa. what's interesting is that it's not a link up of americans and british, it's americans and polish. the company commander is reconning ahead of his unit on that day and they are under heavy artillery fire.
he is go to have orders to move forward and he in thes a guy in a funny looking uniform. he knows he's not a german but he's not sure who he is. it turns out it's a polish army commander. you have a polish armor division moving from the other direction. the commander tells waters, this is the first ever meeting of polish and american soldiers on a battlefield. so the two coordinate to kind of snap this trap shut for the germans. they will do so but the germans will continue to try to attack eastward to get out of here. cl collectively this part of the battle is known as the -- gap. it's over by august 20th, 1944. the german alslosses will be
terrible. it's a concentrated area with enormous destruction by allied artillery and air and ground forces. killing of thousands of forces. blood running in the norman lanes as you kind of saw one of them portrayed earlier in our slide show there. the strenench like you wouldn't believe. the allied fighter pilots when they open their canopies, they are hit with the smell of burning flesh. >> enough for the allies and troubling enough for them, you can imagine the germans. that's really the figurative end of the battle of normandy. the germans have lost the better part of two field armies in normandy, that's hundreds of thousands of troops well over a thousand tanks. the allied losses are significant. the americans lose 126,000 men at normandy.
almost all men. killed, wounded, captured, missing. british, canadians and poles 83,000. over 21,000 americans killed in the battle of normandy. paris is liberated on august 25 which is the figurative end to this and from the larger point of view how we interpret the battle of normandy, it's the beginning of the end for germany it's not a turning point. the turning point happened earlier, stalingrad, other places like that. it's the pivot point. after normandy, the germans are not going to win this war. it's just a matter of time. but it also doesn't mean it's over now. there's plenty of hard fighting again so this is the beginning 60 an american military, economic, and political superpower that has now accepted that baton to lead this western allied coalition and in a longer view it's the beginning of a major american military presence in europe that will remain to
this day through nato. it really is a seminal moment in american history. so the battle of normandy it's fair to say is probably the most significant in the entire history of campaign in northwest europe. thank you. [ applause ] >> we have time for two questions for dr. mcmanus. >> dr. mcmanus. we were building up in normandy and slowly grinding the germans down which you see on the map, the 15th army. how long did it take the germans to figure out that maybe normandy was the real invasion and not secondary? >> right. the allies had hoped to deceive the germans about the real invasion, that the second invasion would be coming at calais later in the summer. i'd say it takes about half that
summer for the germans to figure this out. but part of the issue 1 once they have figured it out, it's easier said than done to move elements of that 15th army from calais to normandy because of allied air. so the germans have difficulty maneuvering. and the subsequent invasion does come but it's not as well known. it's the invasion of south france which happens on august 15. this is one of the things i should have mentioned. eisenhower had always envisioned the normandy enseparation as one part of two complementary invasions. he wanted an immediate toll lowup in south france to put measure pressure on the jer germans from both sides. as it turns out, it takes two months for them to invade south france mainly because of the paucity of landing skraft and other shipping. so when the landing happens on august 15, it's at that point in tandem that hitler finally says okay, let's retreat and the germans are more or less kicked out of france in the two weeks after that. but it takes them just to more specifically answer your question it takes them about half the summer to figure out
there isn't another invasion coming at calais. >> dr. mcmanus, this question concerns the german high command and hitler on the strategy of committing the armored divisions. by the second or third day after d-day when hitler literally woke up and figuratively woke up and saw that was the invasion he then committed the reserves. rommel said "it's too late." what is your take on that? what could have happened? >> my take, again, this is purely my personal opinion. i think rommel's concept was wrong and proven wrong. the reason i think that is partially what happened earlier in the war. that when the germans had moved armor near the allies landing beaches that had a naval presence they had come to regret it. in sicily, at salerno, at anz owe. it just hadn't worked out that
well for them. they probably were not going to foil the invasion at the water line. they could have stalemated the allies terribly perhaps more than they did. so i tend to see the armor getting to the beaches on d-day as deciding everything as overrated a little bit in that sense. if we also look to the pacific, the japanese are just now figuring out in 1944, let's not fight them at the water line, let's fortify inland and bleed them. in the way, that's the last best option the axis venezuela v in 1944 is to bleed them so badly and take so much time that you'll end up with a political change. but, you know, it's a fun debate and i totally understand the other point of view because you can say, well, okay. but at the same time, if you let them get ashore they industrial the advantage there, too. that's my feeling. all right, great. thanks. >> american history tv in prime
time continues in a moment with a look at the role chaplains played in world war ii. then, how air commandos got started as project nine in the allied invasion force in burma. here's a great read to add to your summer reading list, c-span's latest book "sundays at eight." >> i always knew that there's a risk in the bohemian life-style and i decided to take it because whether it's an illusion or not -- i don't think it is -- it helped my concentration. it stopped me being bored. it stopped other people being bored, to some extent. it would keep me awake. it would make me want the evening to go on longer, to prolong the conversation, to enhance the moment. if i was asked would i do it again the answer is probably
yes. i'd quit earlier possibly, hoping to get away with the whole thing. easy for me to say. i was not very nice to my children. i was irresponsible if i say yeah, i'd do all that again to you. but the truth is it would be hypocritical to say no, i'd never touch the stuff if i'd known. because i did know. everyone does. >> >> the soviet union and the soviet system in eastern europe contained the seeds of its own destruction. many of the problems that we saw at the end begin at the very beginning. i spoke about the attempt to control all institutions and control all parts of the economy and political life and social life. the problem is when you do that, when you try to control everything, then you create opposition and potential disdense everywhere. if you tell all artists they have to paint the same way and another artist says "i want to paint another way." you have just made him into a political dissident. >> if you want to subsidize housing in this country and we want to talk about it and the
populous agrees it's something we should subsidize, then put it on the ballot sheet and make it clear and make it evident and make everybody aware of how much it's costing. but when you deliver it through these third-party intervises fannie mae and freddie mac, when you deliver it through a company with private shareholders and executives who can extract a lot of that subsidy for themselves, that's not a very good way of subsidizing homeownership. >> christopher hitchens, ann appelbaum and gretchen are a few of the 41 engaging stories in c-span's "sundays at 8:00." now available at your favorite book seller. while congress is on break, we're using this time to show american history tv programs normally seen weekends here on c-span 3. next, the role of chaplains in war. during world war ii, roughly 12,000 chaplains travelled with
combatants into battle and served as friends, advisors, and spiritual leaders. professor lyle dorsett explores the difficulties chaplains faced and shares stories from many of their autobiographies. this hour-long event was part of the national world war ii museum's commemoration of the 70th anniversary of d-day in june. well, thank you for attending this session. and i will try to leave a little bit of time at the end for questions and answers if you would like. because often lectures raise more questions than they answer so i'll be happy to do that with you. a year and a half ago, i published the book that dr. t doctor just mentioned "serving god and country: u.s. military
chaplains in world war ii." and my research to put that book together took me several years and it was something -- i've studied a lot of american history, i've written history. but i didn't expect to be so influenced by something as this book. i really had no sense of the crucial role the chaplains played in world war ii. indeed, i sort of had in my mind that there were these chaplains floating around during a war, a lot of them on the home front in america in those 600 plus chapels that were built on the camps and bases and forts all over the country and when they went off with the troops they were sort of in the background, maybe in tent hospitals. maybe they were holding worship
services when they could. and all of those things are true. but what i had no idea of was the harrowism of these men and in world war ii it was only men who were chaplains. i had no idea of the crucial role that they played in the war. let me read to you the quotation of the commander of the 75th infantry division in world war ii. and his words were for the men and women under his command. this was general prickett's comment. he said "religion is basic in american life and fundamentally -- and fundamental to our survival as a strong people. those words are almost shocking today because i don't think the typical american believes that sort of thing. i don't think we believe today that religion is basic in
american life and fundamental to our survival as a strong person. but the general did and he went on to say this. he said "one of the four freedoms of the atlantic charter for which we con tend is freedom of religion." well, later nonhis talk he said this to his troops. "chaplains are more than morale builders. morale building is every officer's duty. the primary function of chaplains is to minister religion to the officers and men of this command. in order do this work --" and listen to what he's saying here. and this began to knock into my view. "in order to do the worst most effectively the chaplains are training with the men, going into the field with them, living
with the troops, getting close and understanding their psycholo psychology." a navy chaplain put it this way. he said, "what freed us upmost was when the commanders of various units would say chaplains should be in harm's way with the combatants." you see, chaplains were not drafted. chaplains were volunteer. chaplains were a little older than the typical soldier, sailor, or marine because they'd had at least seven years of formal school housing, usually a college degree and three years of divinity school or seminary and then a year or two of experience early on. so they'd go into the chaplaincy and the military and as volunteers in their 30s, in their early 30s, many of them. some of them went in as late as
50 or 51. one catholic priest went in when he was nearly 70 because there was such a shortage of chaplains that he begged to go back in. he was a retired chaplain and they put him at a naval base on the california coast so he could minister in hospitals and work with men there. so he retire add second time from the navy as a chaplain. but this was an interesting group and let me just give you a glimpse of how view there were but yet the important impact they had on the war effort. in world war ii, eventually we had 12.5 million men and women in uniform. among those 12.5 men and women in uniform, there were only about 12,000 chaplains. 12,000 chaplains within a military of over 12 million people.
9,000 of those were army and approximately 3,000 were in the navy. navy chaplains, of course, then as now, serve both the marines and the navy. and during world war ii the navy chaplains were always rotated every year. almost invariably. if they served on a ship one year, the next year they might be sent to a naval air station in the states and they'd be a third year they'd be sent out with the marines somewhere. and this is the way that those things went. the army, on the other hand, if a chaplain was assigned, say, to the 75th infantry division at general prickette, i read those words, that army chaplain would remain the infantry until the war was over. at least for the duration of his time he would be with them. so they did not rotate. if you were an 82nd air born chaplain, 101st airborne chaplain, you were going to stay with them throughout the war. so you really got to know the
combatants, the troops you went with very well. the problem was it began to get in the way of knowing the troops all that well was the very fact that there just weren't enough to go around. often there just weren't enough to go around. but i want to tell you some things about what they did and i want to tell you about a thesis of the book that i wrote. one of the theses that comes across in this book and i never would have expected it as i began my research. which, by the way, you might say "where do you find material on 12,000 chaplains for world war ii?" fortunately, the united states army kept very good records and does keep records. every chaplain -- and chaplain underwood who retired from the air force in 1998, did you industrial to do a monthly report every month in the army? and it had detailed lists of questions that you would have to
report on? well, that was going on in world war ii and in the national archive there is's an entire record group that has the monthly reports of every chaplain that was serving. and so those reports existed and i was able to spend part of three summers in college park maryland at the annex of the national archive just pouring through those records. navy records, alas, were not as complete. and the reason is this. i don't know the man's name, i'm glad i don't. i hope he's retired. i hope he's crossed the jordan into glory because i hope i never discover him. but a naval officer around 1980 or thereabouts decided to destroy all of the naval chaplain records up to vietnam. he said they were old things in the way and they lacked space. which meant as an historian you had to become much more like a
detective and a busy bee out there trying to gather information because all these records were gone. imagine the records of the war of 1812. the war -- the mexican war, the spanish american war, world war i, world war -- the civil war, all of those records destroyed. mercifully, the marine corps, which always has been a little bit stubborn in cooperating with everything in the navy department, kept some records and at quantico there is a good archive and i was able to find some things there and there's an excellent now retired chief petty officer in the navy who oversaw an archive at norfolk, virginia, and he helped me ferret out things. so with the help of good people who love history and love to preserve things i was able to get enough to put some things together and see the picture. but i want to add onor top wick
regard to sources some of the most valuable sources i found were autobiographies of military chaplains in world war ii. to date i've been able to find about 100 of them. these things are rare as they can be. very few became popular books and had widespread publication father sampson, a roman catholic priest who served with the 101st airborne division, father sampson's book is still in print, i think. it was called "look out below." but that's an exception. most of those books are small, they were self-published, published for members of their family or members of their church or their denomination and you've got to do a lot of detective work to even find them. in fact, my wife called me on my cell phone to tell me she
spotted another world war ii chaplain's autobiography on ebay coming up this afternoon and she says "i got you covered, i'll get it for you before you come home. squots i married up. i married somebody who was a better researcher than i, she writes better than i and she's a lot better looking than i am. anyway, those kinds of things are what i drew upon to put together this story of the chaplains in world war ii. the point is, i'm not sure that second with have sustained warfare from december 7, 1941 through the horrid casualties and carnage and long deployments that didn't end until august, 1945. i'm not sure we could have done it without chaplains.
in fact, there are people who know the situation better than i that argued it quite emphatically. i'd like for you to hear these words i want to leave a brief comment from rabbi morris kurtzer who was a jewish chaplain in the army in world war ii and he looked back over their time and he said this. "the chaplain's score, their greatest achievement, i believe, was in making the soldier believe that the army did care about him as an individual. we are a symbol to him, a guarantee that the army recognizing its fallibility in dealing with large masses of men with sufficient concern for his welfare to set aside 7,000 troubleshooters in the chaplain corps -- it was more like 9,000 -- to short circuit red tape, to right wrongs, to deal with injustices.
we talked and we talked with g.i. joe. we made him laugh when his heart was heavy. we passed his bed of pain with a pleasantry. we gave him a sense of his own importance. together --" listen to this. "together with the medical corps we were the soul of the army." in october, 1945, two months after japan had surrendered, general alexander vander gift from, who had led the marines on gad l gaud dahl canal in world war ii and was appointed commandant of the marine corps near the end of the war, he addressed a group of military chaplains, navy and army chaplains in washington in october, '45. listen to what he said. this is the kind of thing this that just turned the light on in
a dark room for me as i was studying this hidden thread of history on the role of chaplain which is i thought was just off on the side. he said "the ministrations you have carried to our fighting men have been an epic of spiritual heroism hence the topic of my top talk this morning. the ministrations you have carried to our fighting men have been an epic of spire which you will heroism. never at any time to my knowledge have our men lacked for religious care and guidance. you have gone wherever they've gone. to millions of american boys you've been a friend that stick closer than a brother. in this war they turned to you constantly. you were more than a conductor of devotional and worship
services. you were helpers, advisors, listeners, and comforters. you prayed with them, toiled with them, laughed at them. i recalled a sign on one chaplain's tent which made it easier for a man to come and talk to him, it read this: see me at your earliest inconvenience. like the teachers of old, you did not wait for men to come to you, you went out to the men." and i should add parenthetically that they ministered to the women, too, the waves, the w.a.c.s and so forth, but so predominantly was there ministration to men that's why the general sounds rather gender insensitive to this era. you have brought god to men and men to god. your life in the field was rigorous and perilous.
once, when a chaplain came in weary and dirty from a day in the lines i remember hearing a young marine say with awe in his voice, that man is sure doing god a lot of good out here. samuel johnson once wrote religion which is animated only by faith and hope will glide by degrees out of the mind unless it be invigorated and reimpressed by external ordnances, by stated calls to worship, and the sal you tear influence of example. america's young men traveled far from home, but they did not go one step away from their churches. their faith could not and did not fade. stated calls to worship and the salutary influence of example went win w them even in the thick of battle.
men from your ranks marched at their side into the valley of the shadow of death. i frequently noted in the field how chaplains to a man sought out the front line of action and i assume that was because as one put it at the time this is where the fighting man needs god most. that's where some of them know him for the first time. well, these were some of the things that made me -- listening to a chaplain is one thing to say how influential they were, but listening to a tough-minded hard-nosed marine general with a lot of combat under his belt saying that in essence he said two groups of men helped us sustain -- and he went on to say this in his talk. two groups helped us sustain in the marine corps our climb up the ladder toward tokyo from guadalcanal with massive heavy
casualties. he said those two groups were the chaplains and the corpsmen. he said the chaplain and the corpsmen helped keep spirit high and morale up and encouraged men to take the next step. this is something that astounded me as i encountered it. i had no idea what this had been all about. well, let me pick up where we had left off. is there anybody here that was here when i spoke yesterday? a couple of you war so i'll try to avoid repeating anything that will make it repetitious to you. but as we go, yesterday i had taken people up to the point of our invasion of normandy, what the preparations for like on the home front, what went on during that change. but as the u.s. army pressed deeper into europe as we heard from john mcmanus earlier,
things began to change significantly. the work of chaplains changed in that they were constantly on call to be near wounded and dying men. keep in mind that there were over 400,000 killed in action in world war ii. this is an enormous effort on the part of chaplains to be with the dying, to oversee the burying of the dying, and to care for the wounded. they -- let me give you a glimpse of a couple of these incidence that will help it come alive as if it was a glimpse of the past.
there was a chaplain -- and i was able to have a conversation with him once and i did read his autobiography which sold better than a lot of them. his name -- he's now deceased, he's now in glory, i'm sure, chaplain gordon cosby. chaplain cosby served with the 101st airborne division. chaplain cosby jumped. he had several combat jumps with the 101st. when the 101st was in bastone and was surrounded by the germans and you'll remember the time there the germans were shelling bastone and it looked like the place might fall, the americans in there, 101st and other infantry in that place were surrounded, they were cut off from supplies, the weather was -- this was during the battle of the bulge, the weather was so inclement supplies couldn't be flown in. the germans even came up and said -- they came up with a white flag and said "you guys need to surrender, if you don't we'll level the place. we got plenty of ammo, we got
88s, we're going to level this city and we're going to kill all of you, so surrender now." and general mcauliffe, who was head of that operation that was stuck inside of bastone merely responded, he said "nuts." and so the germans went back with this to their commander. he said "what's their response?" "nuts." well, he didn't know what that meant. somebody fluent in english explained he's telling you jump in the lake, we're not surrendering. but cosby at night would move around in the darkness of night and go to fox hole, trenches, guys that were fortified in clumps of trees and so forth to talk to them. and this was the testimony of a lot of money who were there. they said this guy would come up -- many of them didn't know his name but he'd come up and say "would you like me to pray with you? would you like me to say a psalm or read a psalm to you? is there anything i can do for
you to help ease your concern? because we were in a deep predicame predicament." and he, by the way, had said this. he said, we've got to be realistic. in fact, he wrote an article that he didn't put his name on it but he wrote to churches back in the united states who said "my son was never killed, my son has survived because we're praying here at the church." he said i'm burying men everyday who have people praying in the church. don't view your prayer as a magic lamp to get things you want. so he'd go from man to man talking reality to them. and he said i don't want you to know i don't know what tomorrow hold bus i want you to know who's in control of tomorrow. what can i do to help you? and he wrote in his autobuy i don't gony one glimpse and he usually didn't say anything about what anybody said to him. he felt that was very personal and he shouldn't do it.
but he said one man said to him, chaplain, i just have a premonition i'm going to die tomorrow. and the chaplain said you have a deep sense of that? he said i do. and he said, what i want yo from you is to tell me what's on the other side. and he said, clappy, i don't want any of your blooming theology. i don't want to hear any of your doctrinal preferences. he said, i want to know as a soldier sitting here tonight when i die tomorrow what's going to happen to me. cosby said at that moment he realized that a lot of what he'd learned in divinity school or seminary wasn't very helpful to dying men. so he decided -- and he talked to this man about, in his tradition, the lord jesus christ told him about the hope he could have in christ, that a thief had died on a cross with jesus and
was assured of being in paradise the next day by talking to jesus and seeking jesus. anyway, he prayed with him and then moved on to minister to other men. stayed upmost nights doing that. the next day he took out a battalion roster and they began to find the dead and calculate and sure enough this young pfc had died. he would write a letter and send it home when he could, when he had the leisure to do it to tell his family that he'd been killed but that he'd died with peace because they'd had a great conversation. he told them about that. that was the kind of thing that a chaplain would do. i -- i want to tell you about another chaplain. in fact, it happened not far from where john mcmanus took us
on his slide presentation this morning. this was a roman catholic priest, cosby, by the way, was a baptist. that is chaplain named joseph p. o'connell. and i have a world war ii museum in my home, it's about 700 square feet of temperature and humidity controlled museum and among the chaplains' things i have, by the grace of god, a wonderful collection of chaplains' things from world war ii and i have the uniform and the papers of father joseph p. o'connell. he was with the headquarters battery, 451st anti-aircraft artillery battalion. and in august, 1944, farther down around the south and the west on the coast of france, around from where the normandy invasion had taken place, he's
farther down with patton's guys coming in at that point, let me read to you what he received. he received what's called the award of soldiers medal. the soldiers medal was for somebody that was not a combatant but had done heroic things in combat. there aren't in of these that were given. and, by the way, let me add parenthetically -- and this might -- when i first encountered this data i didn't believe it. but further research underscores it. the highest -- the most highly decorated branch of the united states army in world war ii was the chaplain's corps. they even surpassed the army air corps which had enormous casualty rates. i mean, the casualty rates for the army air corps were phenomenally high. but per capita, the chaplains
were even more highly decorated. for example, there were 2,453 decorations for various forms of valor for the chaplains. 2,453. those went to 1,783 chaplains. in other words, a lot of these chaplains had more than one. well, one such chaplain is joseph o'connell. the yanks had gone in on the shore farther down the coast of france and chaplain o'connell, here's what the citation said. chaplain o'connell, upon witnessing a landing craft, received a direct hit by an enemy bomb, crossed a heavily mined beach in the darkness. keep in mind, the beach is covered with mines. a german shell or bomb has blown up a landing craft and the
chaplain takes off in the darkness. it says although unable to swim -- now, this chaplain could not swim and guided only by calls for help prix seoceeded a to the stricken vessel on an abandoned raft. he finds an abandoned raft, makes it out the the vessel. despite continual explosions on the ship which shower it had area with fragments of ammunition and of wrecked equipment causing casualties on the beach which greatly endangered his life, chaplain o'connell rescued from the burning ship six soldiers who were seriously wounded and too weak to reach the shore. his heroic actions in saving the lives -- by the way, he'd go out in the raft, get a guy on it and row himself back holding a man. he did that for six men even though he couldn't swim and things were exploding all around
him. he said "these are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service." he entered the service from springfield, massachusetts. well, chaplains did this sort of thing. they were all over the place doing it. a navy chaplain who was awarded the medal of honor has an autobiography that i recommend to you that's called "i was chaplain onfranklin." and his heroism was utterly phenomenal. but so was a methodist chaplain that was on board with him and when the catholic chaplain was given the medal of honor he said it should go to my protestant colleague as well, he did everything that i did. the other man said oh, no way, don't worry about that and he was give an silver star. these kinds of things you can see where some of those nearly
3,000 -- some of those 3,000 awards came from. well, once the u.s. army began to move farther into france and then get on into belgium and then into the edge of germany, their tasks becamer have gaited in a way that numb of their chaplains's manuals or none of their education would have taught them about. as soon as they began to penetrate france, one of the interesting things that happened is that jewish refugees who'd been hidden -- a lot of french people -- maybe i shouldn't say lot per capita. but french people did hide jews from the germans. and as soon as the americans came in, the jews are coming out of hiding and they're begging for help. now, keep in mind, they particularly would like to a jewish rabbi who's a chaplain. of those 12,000 army chaplains,
only 311 were jewish: and that number the 311, was over 50% of the rabbis in the united states at that time. these guys would say when people said "hey, some of our traditions are having trouble meeting the quotas that have been set for us, jew joao you jewish guys are superseding it, chow this be?" they said "we love our country like you do, but if we don't twin war in europe there will be no more jews." so as they're moving in, the jewish refugees are coming out. now, imagine the dilemma a jewish chaplain faces. he's got people that are hiding, hungry, frightened, they haven't had a worship service in years and they're begging the chaplain to stay with them.
they want to stay, they want to help them, they want to bless them, but they've got a battalion to travel with. they need to keep moving. sometimes they'd linger far day or two and then hurry to try to catch up. but there were those tensions, these were things nobody expected. the farther they got in to france and into belgium and then when they got into germany, the more of these jewish refugees were found and the cries for help were phenomenal. and the u.s. army in europe and world war ii was always tender toward children and we were pretty tender toward women as well. and the other thing that happened, there were other refugees floating around from their communities that had been bombed like you heard earlier if you were at the lecture on how some of those french cities were leveled. well you got refugees running around. they're hungry, they're wounded,
they need help. and these chaplains are so torn that they want to stay and help people but yet they need to travel with their troops because that's their primary responsibility. there was another new twist as combat increased and the war went farther on. american combatants suffered battle fatigue in increasing numbers. some of the most interesting things i read in chaplains' autobiographies was how they were called to deal with men who were suffering battle fatigue. we might call it shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder. there aren't -- this was so heavy, especially in places in italy where the combat would go on day after day, night after night. some of these guys would be under constant shelling for 30 and 40 days.
these kinds of combat things increased throughout europe and chaplains were often called back by battalion commanders to say can you do anything to help these guys get back up to speed? one chaplain put it this way -- he said, when i would go walk into an area where there was a man who was pulled off the line because he had the shakes so bad he couldn't stay, he was passing out, he was hyperventilating, he said i had to listen in two ways. he said, i had to listen horizontally to that soldier if he could talk. tell me what's going on. what are you feeling? he said but -- he also said i would listen vertically and ask the lord to give me discernment to know how to hear him and know what to do. and he said, the learning to listen vertically became
absolutely essential in working with these shell-shocked or battle-fatigue cases. he said sometimes you would just say give this man a shot and get him out of here, he's not going to be of any use for quite a while. he said other times i had a sense, i would take a man and grab him by the shoulder and say "are you --" in this case it was a christian, a protestant minister. "are you a christian?" and he'd say i'd shake him until his teeth rattled and he'd say "you're going stay 23rd psalm with me." the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. and he'd take him through. and he said "i'd shake him. are you hearing this? let's say it again." and lead him through it again. he said sometimes those guys within 10 or 5 minut15 minutes able to eat a few bites of food, drink some water and go back to their platoon. he said it was amazing the
power, the spiritual power that would come from god through a chaplain to speak to men in dire straights. in fact, i had a piece that one of the chaplains wrote and it was very interesting and it's -- this is, again, maybe hard for us to believe today living in the time that we live. chaplain john o'callahan, who was the medal of honor winner on the uss "franklin" said this. listen to these words. "the power of the cross to inspire surpassed its power of recognition. boys of all faiths would go anywhere if the chaplain would go with them." the chaplains had a cross on their helmet. they might have one on the back. he was talking -- he wasn't bragging about his role. what he was saying is this is not about me.
he said i show up with a helmet with a cross on the front of it and the boys will follow me. because they're desperate for some guidance in the most stressful times. his goal was to not bring attention to himself and say, look great work i did, he said i work for someone else, i'm representing him, and i'm coming in this environment to do that. well, the casualty rates for army chaplains increased strikingly during the war and with each passing month and year in the pacific and in europe, those casualty rates went up. i want to tell you another couple of stories to help you understand that -- i want to give a little time for q&a, but
i want to help you understand the that chaplains weren't a lot different from anybody else. they had different training. they had a different mos, they had a different job description, if you will. but chaplains were very human. and chaplains were very human and they also made mistakes and did a lot of interesting things. as you probably know, chaplains were prohibited from bearing armies. however -- and they also were told to treat to everybody in a humane way. i'll just give you one example of a chaplain who lost his cool to show his deep humanism despite his religious conviction s. one of the observers said "our chaplain failed to turn the other cheek. he lost his temper when something happened." now they were just outside of
malmedy. this is december, 1944. the germans have brocken through in the bulge, the iss panzer division that came in there took no prisoners. they massacres american soldiers at malmedy, not only at that one cross roads outside the town and other parts of the area, found over 300 americans who had just been lined up and shot. a tent hospital was put together and at the hospital was an army chaplain. he's going from bed to bed trying to help the americans that were wound there had and also the germans that they'd brought in. one of the young germans who was lying on a cot raised up, bent forward and began to spew in english, which he spoke very well, saying filthy and vile things about the blankety blank americans. the chaplain walked over and
smashed anymo eed him in the ja knocked him out and said "we're not going to listen to that." sir, you went through chaplain training. not the way he was trained but he was a human guy that had just seen enough. i'll tell you a story, and let me take you to the pacific theater for a moment. i think i've been expected to speak mostly on europe but i think you don't mind i throw in a little pacific. there was a navy chaplain that served with the marine corps and during one year he was with the second marine division and in a short period of time he fought on -- he was with the troops on saipan and tinnian, he'd been with them before that. he was seen -- there were photographs taken of him when his gunga ree jacket would be open and there's be a 45 in a shoulder holster in here. on two different islands during
bonsai attacks at night when one of the marines, he'd be down in the slit trenches with the marines and they'd be hunkered down, there'd be a machine gun here and about five rifles and then a submachine gun here and several more rifles, guys would have a bayonet stuck in the sand or the coral in different of them whatever island they were on waiting for these bonz sigh attacks. and the marine gunner got killed and the chaplain lost his cool. he grabbed the machine gun and started blowing away japanese attackers. well, the men loved him. they thought this is one of our guys. he was frequently referred to as a man's man. this guy is a real marine. he did it on one battlefield. he did it a second time. and then he was warned "you do this one more time and you're out of here, chappy. this is in violation of the
geneva convention guidelines. he said "the japanese don't abide by it, why should we?" they said "it's not your business, we abide by it." it happened the third time, the regimental commander called him in and said chaplain, i don't want to see you thrown out of the navy department. i don't want to see you humiliated but i can't let this happen anymore so we're reprimanding you and there's something we have to do and the chaplain thought what in the world are they going to do to me? he said we're sending you back to the hawaiian islands. the sword there won't be any bonsai attacks and you won't have to react in the way you have been doing traditionally. so he did go back, i don't know what happened to him over the years. i have a 405-page autobiography written by a navy chaplain that's not been published but his son gave it to me. but he tells in the