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Royal Army Chaplains' Department
RAChD QC.gif
Cap Badge of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department; for Jewish padres the Maltese Cross is replaced by a Star of David
Active 23 September 1796 - present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Role Chaplaincy
Motto(s) "In this Sign Conquer"
March Prince of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary)
Chaplain General The Revd David Coulter

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

History[edit | edit source]

A post 1953 RAChD No.1 dress cap

British Army arms and services
Flag of the British Army.svg
Combat Arms
Royal Armoured Corps
Special Air Service
Army Air Corps
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Combat Support Arms
Royal Artillery
Royal Engineers
Royal Corps of Signals
Intelligence Corps
Combat Services
Royal Army Chaplains' Department
Royal Logistic Corps
Army Medical Services
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Adjutant General's Corps
Small Arms School Corps
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
General Service Corps
Corps of Army Music

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

From 1946 until 1996, the RAChD's Headquarters, Depot and Training Centre were at Bagshot Park in Surrey, now the home of The Earl and Countess of Wessex.[3] In 1996, they moved to the joint service Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House near Andover.[4]

Role[edit | edit source]

There are about 150 serving regular chaplains (commonly known as "padres") in the British Army; these can belong to one of several Christian denominations, or to the Jewish faith, although currently all active chaplains are Christian.[5] Uniquely within the British Army, the Royal Army Chaplains' Department has different cap badges for its Christian and Jewish officers.[6]

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 British Army in that they do not carry arms. At services on formal occasions, chaplains wear their medals and decorations on their clerical robes (many chaplains have been decorated for bravery in action, including three Victoria Crosses: James Adams, Noel Mellish and William Addison).[7]

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.[8]

Museum[edit | edit source]

The Museum of Army Chaplaincy is located at Amport House near Andover, Hampshire.[9]

Representative denominations in the RAChD[edit | edit source]

Chaplains are either classified as Jewish (currently only in the Territorial Army) or as a member of one of the following eight Christian denominational groups:

However, 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.[10] In 2011 following a freedom of information request on Ministry of Defence spending on chaplaincy, the National Secular Society requested that £22m of spending should come directly from churches while professional counselling should continue to be funded by the tax payer,[11] in order to better serve the non-religious in the military.[12] The proposal was rejected by the Church of England.[11] As of 2018 there are no non-religious chaplains in the British armed forces although organisations such as the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association and the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN) continue to advocate for it.[13]

Ranks[edit | edit source]

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 officially 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 – 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.[14]

List of Chaplains General[edit | edit source]

Deputy Chaplain General[edit | edit source]

Order of precedence[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Logistic Corps

Some notable Army chaplains[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Museum of Army Chaplaincy webpage. British Army official website.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "History of Army Chaplains". Ministry of Defence. http://www.army.mod.uk/chaplains/23350.aspx. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  3. "Bagshot Park". http://www.bagshotvillage.org.uk/bpark/index.shtml. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  4. "Army Forces Chaplaincy Centre". Defence Academy. http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/afcc. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  5. "Army chaplains". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/priests/armychaplains_1.shtml. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  6. "Military Cap Badge Royal Army Chaplains Department (Jewish)". Intriguing history. http://www.intriguing-history.com/military-cap-badge-royal-army-chaplains-department-jewish/. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  7. "Padre VC Holders". http://www.stephen-stratford.co.uk/padre_vc.htm. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  8. "Marches of the British Forces". http://www.worldmilitarybands.com/marches-of-the-british-forces-edit/. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  9. "Museum of Army Chaplaincy". Ministry of Defence. http://www.army.mod.uk/chaplains/23363.aspx. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  10. "Royal Army Chaplains' Department". Ministry of Defence. http://www.army.mod.uk/chaplains/chaplains.aspx. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 McManus, John. "Military chaplain funding queried by secular group". https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15318614. Retrieved 8 May 2018. 
  12. Bingham, John. "Military losing faith in God". https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10902040/Military-losing-faith-in-God.html. Retrieved 8 May 2018. 
  13. "MoD open to Humanist chaplains". https://www.scotsman.com/news/mod-open-to-humanist-chaplains-1-1368408. Retrieved 8 May 2018. 
  14. "The gave their today". http://www.theygavetheirtoday.com/army-chaplains-ww1.html. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  15. {{London Gazette |issue=13938 |date=4 October 1796 |startpage=945|}
  16. {{London Gazette |issue=16348 |date=6 March 1810 |startpage=335|}
  17. {{London Gazette |issue=18044 |date=13 July 1824 |startpage=1155|}
  18. {{London Gazette |issue=20620 |date=7 July 1846 |startpage=2500|}
  19. {{London Gazette |issue=24199 |date=13 April 1875 |startpage=2081|}
  20. {{London Gazette |issue=25442 |date=17 February 1885 |startpage=677|}
  21. {{London Gazette |issue=27379 |date=22 November 1901 |startpage=7653|}
  22. {{London Gazette |issue=33048 |date=19 May 1925 |startpage=3374|}
  23. "No. 34010". 29 December 1933. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34010/supplement/ 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "No. 36791". 10 November 1944. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36791/supplement/ 
  25. "No. 39375". 9 November 1951. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/39375/supplement/ 
  26. "No. 42088". 8 July 1960. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/42088/supplement/ 
  27. "No. 43898". 11 February 1966. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/43898/supplement/ 
  28. "No. 46349". 24 September 1974. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/46349/supplement/ 
  29. 29.0 29.1 "No. 50799". 12 January 1987. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/50799/supplement/ 
  30. "No. 53946". 6 February 1995. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/53946/supplement/ 
  31. "No. 55854". 23 May 2000. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/55854/supplement/ 
  32. "No. 59866". 2 August 2011. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/59866/supplement/ 
  33. "A Second World War D.S.O., and Great War O.B.E. group of seven to Reverend A.T.A. Naylor, Army Chaplain's Department". 12 March 2014. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21704/lot/133/. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

" 'Evans Above".....The Auto Biography of THE REV WALTER EVANS.CF. I do not have the "LIBRARY" detail....He served PADRE to 22 Regt S A S. EVANS...The Rev WALTER C.F. His Auto Biography...."'Evens Above". He was too.....CHAPLAIN....THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA.

External links[edit | edit source]

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