Faith Meets Planties


Courtesy of 1st Armoured Brigade

Theological students hosted by 22 Engineer Regiment
Theological students hosted by 22 Engineer Regiment
Theological students hosted by 22 Engineer Regiment
Theological students hosted by 22 Engineer Regiment

Nine trainee ‘vicars’ from six theological colleges came to see what the Army was up to in Tidworth, this week. The annual week, organised by the RAChD (The Royal Army Chaplains’ Department) and on this day hosted by the Padres from 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade included a morning in Brigade HQ where they learnt what the Brigade faced at this time. Then came a Chaplain’s specific time when they got to ‘Grill a Padre’ asking the most difficult questions they could, followed by a visit to St Michael and All Angels’ Garrison Church to investigate the ever present synthesis between the soldier and faith.

The afternoon was spent with the recently re-subordinated 22 Engineer Regiment who hosted them superbly with some of the biggest vehicles in the British Army, and the day ended with a field communion on the Royal Engineer Training Area. Some enjoyed it so much that they are staying on for a further week to ‘shadow’ a Chaplain!

No news on the pies

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8 Responses

  1. Good stuff. I have a slightly detached relationship with God, as he hasn’t yet proven himself to be a proper Cavalryman, so therefore suspect and possibly a Gunner, but the RAChD are quite magic (if you get the right one).

    We had the most epic Padre in Gulf One. He was middle aged, but brand new to the Army, having previously spent a decade or so being Padre to a few charities that seemed to concentrate on fallen women, whether in the European sex trade, or really oddball, Eskimo women. He also had the most brilliant staring eyes.

    I was most upset when he was forced by orders to remove his crosses from his collar on account of some London diktat that said we shouldn’t upset the local Saudis. F**k them I thought, we were miles out in the desert where no one would see them apart from us.

    He came to me for some advice as to where he should place himself during the Assault Phase. I thought that it should be the RAP. I thought he would be best placed there as if there was dying to be done, it would either be in milliseconds in a destroyed CVR(T), or slowly and painfully in the RAP. We were lucky, our only Regimental deaths were near instant, but over 4 days we put through the RAP several hundred Iraqis we picked up badly wounded on positions we assaulted. He wrote me a note later from back in Germany saying that it was humbling for him as an experience.

  2. @ RT

    There are undoubtedly some Gunners who think that way, but personally I always preferred to rely on the meteor and calibration data. There’s also the Barbara lass who went with a bang or something.

  3. Obsvr,

    I slightly palled up with that Padre; most of the boys thought he looked like a weirdo or rapist with his staring eyes and background as a Padre in the sex trade, but actually he was a very intelligent man and his heart was absolutely in the right place.

    He wasn’t very good on a horse though. I took him hacking out on one of my polo ponies, and I have no idea what he was doing, but the pony was an absolute school M’arm of a nag, docile as hell, and yet she spent most of the ride on her back legs and waving her front hooves about, with him falling off several times. God knows.

  4. RT – he probably does.

    As ever an honourable mention must go to the Reverend Basil Pratt, one time Army Chaplain, one time Olympic canoeist, owner of fine cars and motorbikes and all round good egg. Chaplain to the expedition in 1974 that recreated Stanley’s expedition of 100 years before, in which his boat was bit in half by a hippo. Variously described as very posh, larger than life, totally charming, mad as a bucket of frogs, eccentric. Happily, according to the web, still going strong just over the border in Dumfries & Galloway.

  5. Chris,

    Basil was the Old Man’s Padre when he took his Battalion to South Armagh for a tour. When they got back, he led the service in the garrison church in Dover Castle (I was shoe-horned into a side pew along with a cousin, neither of us being teenagers wanting to be there). He opened the service after the battalion marched in with the immaculate words of ” JC was a Chippie“, after which he had everyone eating out of his hands.

    He also had some old English motorbike in about 500 bits in the vestry, and the LAD Fitters helped him rebuild it.

  6. RT – that will have been his Vincent Black Prince (or possibly Black Shadow – one or the other). Very proud of that one, I recall. Over a pint he explained how he and his regular motorcycle mechanic decided to try each other’s bikes, each thinking the other would see the error of their ways once experiencing what a proper sports bike goes like. So Basil handed his Black Prince to the mechanic and the mechanic handed his RD350 two-stroke to Basil. Off they went. Worth pointing out here the Vincent was powerful even by 1970s standards, more oomph than the RD350, and had a long wheelbase and was quite heavy. Very stable at speed. The Yamaha had a shorter wheelbase and despite less power a faster revving engine. Very nimble on corners. So. After the test rides the two dismounted the mechanical steeds and compared notes – both thought the other’s machine to be horrid to ride; even dangerous – the Padre found the Japanese bike to have far too aggressive a throttle and no stability at all – a constant fight to keep the thing going in the right direction, although he conceded it was clearly capable of snappy cornering. The mechanic (while being impressed with the urge of the Vincent’s motor and the ease of riding on long roads) declared that it was absolutely impossible to coax round corners at any speed. Each took their own bikes back with great relief.

    Basil also had an Alvis which is how I came to meet him. I wonder what he keeps in the garage these days…

  7. Chris,

    I’m told he once also staged a Nativity play with real donkeys, cattle, sheep etc after being disappointed with the quality of the school children’s offerings.

    Wasted on the Church. Should have been a recce man. ;)

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