Royal Army Chaplains' Department

The Royal Army Chaplains' Department (RAChD) is an all-officer department that provides ordained clergy to minister to the British Army.

Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Cap Badge of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department; for Jewish padres the Maltese Cross is replaced by a Star of David
Active23 September 1796 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Garrison/HQMarlborough Lines, Andover
Motto(s)"In this Sign Conquer"
MarchPrince of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary)
Chaplain GeneralThe Rev. Michael Parker
PatronThe Queen
Tactical recognition flash

History edit

A post 1953 RAChD No.1 dress cap

The Army Chaplains' Department (AChD) was formed by Royal Warrant of 23 September 1796;[1] until then chaplains had been part of individual regiments, but not on the central establishment. Only Anglican chaplains were recruited until 1827, when Presbyterians were recognised, but not commissioned until 1858.[2] Roman Catholic chaplains were recruited from 1836, Methodist chaplains from 1881, and Jewish chaplains from 1892.[3] During the First World War some 4,400 Army Chaplains were recruited and 179 lost their lives on active service.[3] The department received the "Royal" prefix in February 1919.[3] During the Second World War another 96 British and 38 Commonwealth Army Chaplains lost their lives.[3]

From 1946 to 1996, the RAChD's Headquarters, Depot and Training Centre were at Bagshot Park in Surrey, now the home of The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.[4] In 1996, they moved to the joint service Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House near Andover, Hampshire.[5] Since 2020[6] the joint centre has been based at Beckett House, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, just outside Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.[7] In November 2023, the Ministry of Defence announced the intent to recruit Non-Religious Pastoral Support Officers into chaplaincy in order to reflect the changing demographics of the United Kingdom and HM Forces.[8]

Role edit

Serving regular chaplains in the British Army can be Catholic, one of several Protestant denominations, or to the Jewish faith. Uniquely within the Army, the Royal Army Chaplains' Department has different cap badges for its Christian and Jewish officers.[9]

Army chaplains, although they are all commissioned officers of the British Army and wear uniform, do not have executive authority. They are unique within the Army in that they do not carry arms. Many chaplains have been decorated for bravery in action, including four awarded Victoria Crosses: James Adams, Noel Mellish, Theodore Hardy and William Addison.[10] At services on formal occasions, chaplains wear their medals and decorations on their clerical robes.[11]

The RAChD's motto is "In this Sign Conquer" as seen in the sky before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Its regimental march, both quick and slow, is the Prince of Denmark's March, erroneously known as the Trumpet Voluntary.[12]

Museum edit

The Royal Army Chaplains' Museum is at Shrivenham, in a new building opened by the Countess of Wessex on 17 May 2022.[13] Its newly curated collection replaced the Museum of Army Chaplaincy which was at Amport House near Andover, Hampshire until 2019.[14]

Faith denominations and belief backgrounds edit

Chaplains are either classified as Jewish, a member of one of the following denominational Christian groups, a member of World Faiths or a Non-religious Pastoral Provider:[15]

There are also religious advisors from other faiths.[16]

An Army chaplain is expected to minister to and provide pastoral care to any soldier who needs it, no matter their denomination or faith or lack of it.[17]

In 2004, Defence Minister Ivor Caplin said: “It is our aspiration to have armed forces which are representative of UK society as a whole.” The move might also help when dealing with soldiers in other armies from different faiths. At the time there were about 740 personnel that declared themselves to be from the four other main religions, but only Christian chaplains are employed by the Ministry of Defence. The number of non religious Ministry of Defence personnel including those in uniform numbered in the tens of thousands.[18]

In 2011, following a freedom of information request on Ministry of Defence spending on chaplaincy, the National Secular Society proposed that £22m of spending should come directly from churches while professional counselling should continue to be funded by the taxpayer,[19] in order to better serve the non-religious in the military.[20] The proposal was rejected by the Church of England.[19]

In September 2021, Defence Humanists, through a submission to the Government’s Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development, called for an independent review of pastoral support for the armed forces which takes into account the nation’s changing religion and belief demographics and the need for a multi-faith and belief approach.[21] In November 2023, the Ministry of Defence announced the intent to recruit Non-Religious Pastoral Support Officers into chaplaincy in order to reflect the changing demographics of the United Kingdom and HM Forces.[8] The armed forces of the Netherlands have had Humanist chaplains since 1964, known as Humanist Counseling in the Dutch Armed Forces.[22]

Ranks edit

The insignia of a Chaplain to the Forces 3rd Class

Chaplains are the only British Army officers who do not carry standard officer ranks. They are instead designated Chaplain to the Forces (CF) (e.g. "The Reverend John Smith CF"). They do, however, have grades which equate to the standard ranks and wear the insignia of the equivalent rank. Chaplains are usually addressed as "Padre" /ˈpɑːdr/, never by their nominal military rank.

The senior Church of England chaplain is ranked within the church hierarchy as an archdeacon, and he or she holds the appointment of Archdeacon for the Army whether or not he or she is also the Chaplain-General. The senior Roman Catholic Chaplain (usually a CF1) is sometimes ranked as a monsignor.[23]

List of Chaplains General edit

Term Began Term Ended Name Notes
4 October 1796 1810 John Gamble Resigned[24]
10 March 1810 1824 John Owen Died in position[25]
12 July 1824 1844 Robert Hodgson Died in position[26]
2 July 1846 1875 George Gleig Retired[27]
7 April 1875 1884 Piers Claughton Died in position[28]
8 February 1885 1 November 1901 Cox Edghill Retired[29]
1 November 1901 1925 John Taylor Smith [30]
1925 1931 Alfred Jarvis Resigned[31]
1931 1939 Ernest Thorold [32]
1939 1944 Charles Symons Retired[33]
6 November 1944 1951 Llewelyn Hughes Resigned[33]
6 November 1951 1960 Victor Pike Resigned[34]
11 June 1960 1966 Ivan Neill [35]
8 February 1966 1974 John Youens Retired[36]
1 July 1974 1980 Peter Mallett [37]
1980 31 December 1986 Frank Johnston [38]
1 January 1987 1995 James Harkness Scottish Presbyterian, first non-Anglican Chaplain-General[38]
3 February 1995 2000 Victor Dobbin Irish Presbyterian minister[39]
13 May 2000 2004 John Blackburn [40]
2004 2008 David Wilkes Methodist
2008 2011 Stephen Robbins
29 July 2011 2014 Jonathan Woodhouse Baptist[41]
September 2014 2018 David Coulter Church of Scotland
December 2018 2022 Clinton Langston
May 2022 Present Michael Parker Methodist [42]

Deputy Chaplains General edit

Term Began Term Ended Name Notes
1915 1919 Llewellyn Gwynne [43]
1941 1945 Alfred Thomas Arthur Naylor [44]
1985 1986 James Harkness Church of Scotland, later Chaplain General
1986 1989 Tom Robinson
1989 1993 Graham Roblin
1993 1995 Alan Dean
1996 1999 John Holliman
1999 2000 John Blackburn later Chaplain General
2000 2004 David Wilkes Methodist, later Chaplain General
2008 2011 Jonathan Woodhouse Baptist, later Chaplain General
2011 2014 David Coulter Church of Scotland, later Chaplain General
2014 2017 Peter Eagles
2017 2018 Clinton Langston later Chaplain General
2018 2020 Michael Fava Catholic[45][46]
2020 2022 Michael Parker Methodist, later Chaplain General[47]
2022 Present David Barrett Methodist

Order of precedence edit

Preceded by Order of Precedence Succeeded by

Some notable Army chaplains edit

Gallery edit

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Snape 2008, p. 26.
  2. ^ Snape 2008, p. 146.
  3. ^ a b c d "History of Army Chaplains". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Bagshot Park". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Army Forces Chaplaincy Centre". Defence Academy. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  6. ^ Edwards, Robert (17 October 2023). "Historic Amport House near Andover to be converted into 48-room boutique hotel".
  7. ^ "Beckett House Conference (Religion and Defence)" (PDF). Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. 9 July 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Armed forces to recruit first non-religious pastoral officers".
  9. ^ "Military Cap Badge Royal Army Chaplains Department (Jewish)". Intriguing history. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Padre VC Holders". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Army Dress Regulations (All ranks)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 577. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Marches of the British Forces". Archived from the original on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  13. ^ "The Countess of Wessex visits Oxfordshire". Oxford County Council. 20 May 2022. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Museum of Army Chaplaincy". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  15. ^ "Royal Army Chaplains' Department". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  16. ^ Taneja, Poonam (13 January 2014). "Army imam: Muslims can be good soldiers". BBC News. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Royal Army Chaplains' Department". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  18. ^ "United Kingdom: non-Christian chaplains to be appointed by armed forces". Religioscope. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  19. ^ a b McManus, John (15 October 2011). "Military chaplain funding queried by secular group". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  20. ^ Bingham, John (16 June 2014). "Military losing faith in God". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Defence Humanists calls for non-religious pastoral care in the armed forces". Humanists UK. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  22. ^ "Humanistisch geestelijke verzorging". Humanistisch Verbond (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  23. ^ "They gave their today". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  24. ^ "No. 13938". The London Gazette. 4 October 1796. p. 945.
  25. ^ "No. 16348". The London Gazette. 6 March 1810. p. 335.
  26. ^ "No. 18044". The London Gazette. 13 July 1824. p. 1155.
  27. ^ "No. 20620". The London Gazette. 7 July 1846. p. 2500.
  28. ^ "No. 24199". The London Gazette. 13 April 1875. p. 2081.
  29. ^ "No. 25442". The London Gazette. 17 February 1885. p. 677.
  30. ^ "No. 27379". The London Gazette. 22 November 1901. p. 7653.
  31. ^ "No. 33048". The London Gazette. 19 May 1925. p. 3374.
  32. ^ "No. 34010". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1933. p. 3.
  33. ^ a b "No. 36791". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1944. p. 5189.
  34. ^ "No. 39375". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 November 1951. p. 5772.
  35. ^ "No. 42088". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 July 1960. p. 4811.
  36. ^ "No. 43898". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 February 1966. p. 1755.
  37. ^ "No. 46349". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 September 1974. p. 7900.
  38. ^ a b "No. 50799". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 January 1987. p. 450.
  39. ^ "No. 53946". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 February 1995. p. 1747.
  40. ^ "No. 55854". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 May 2000. p. 5644.
  41. ^ "No. 59866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 August 2011. p. 14713.
  42. ^ "Methodist Chaplain announced as next Chaplain General for the British Army". Methodist Church. 17 November 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2022.
  43. ^ Lord Balfour of Burleigh (22 September 1915). "THE DEPUTY CHAPLAIN-GENERAL". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. col. 836–839.
  44. ^ "A Second World War D.S.O., and Great War O.B.E. group of seven : Reverend A.T.A. Naylor, Army Chaplain's Department". 12 March 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  45. ^ "Top appointment for Catholic army chaplain". Independent Catholic News. 28 May 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  46. ^ "No. 63164". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 November 2020. p. 18604.
  47. ^ Royal Army Chaplains' Department [@ArmyChaplaincy] (4 June 2020). "We are pleased to announce that The Revd Michael Parker CF, currently serving with @3rdUKDivision, will be the next Deputy Chaplain General. Padre Parker will take up the post in October. #calledtoserve" (Tweet). Retrieved 31 July 2021 – via Twitter.

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Further reading edit

External links edit