Church Parade

Runciman.postcard.churchserviceThe spiritual welfare of the soldiers was addressed as institutionally as their mess needs — but at least they got to sit down to dinner.  This undated postcard shows men drawn up in their ranks, standing at ease, to hear one of the chaplain’s “short talks.”

“”It is not for us to comment upon these ‘talks,’ or their effectiveness,” wrote F.A. MacLennan. “A church parade entailed more shining of buttons and general polishing than any other parade; it was a succession of inspections and re-inspections, forming forms, and abrupt springings to attention. For, in order to appreciate the chaplain’s message, the men must be drawn up just so, and every bit of their accoutrements agleam. With all this military ceremonial, it is not strange if to many there appeared to be an entire absence of religious atmosphere. ” (1)

Gordon Brown assured his mother in mid-June that he was not neglecting his Sunday duty– there had been no church service at Camp Petawawa since he had arrived at the end of May, the only one scheduled having been cancelled because of rain. (2)

Of course, Sundays had other duties to be carried out rain or shine, but the lucky ones who were not tending horses, or assigned to guard duty or kitchen fatigue might anticipate a day of rest.

(1) Kay, Hugh, George Magee and F.A.MacLennan. Battery Action! The Story of the 43rd Battery CFA. Toronto: [1919]. 95-96.
(2) Robert Gordon Brown, letter to his mother. June 17, 1916, in The Canadian Letters and Images Project.

Walter Runciman’s photograph is from The Canadian Letters and Images Project.

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”
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