'Captains of the soul': the mobilisation of Australian Army chaplains for Australia's twentieth century wars

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


During the First and Second World Wars, the Australian Army Chaplains' Department (later the RAAChD) became one of the largest and busiest ecclesiastical organisations in Australian history. For the Second World War alone it mobilised 754 clergymen of various denominational stripes. Never had so many clergy been mobilised for such diverse and demanding ministries by a single agency. While denominational organisations had sponsored the work of their clergy as missionaries abroad, the wartime Army Chaplains' Department was simultaneously deploying hundreds of clergy to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. The Department had also sponsored the most ecumenical outreach the nation had ever seen. While the 1930s were marked by petty sectarian squabbles throughout Australia, the cauldron of war had brought men and padres together in a way, and to a degree, none had previously thought possible. In contrast with a significant body of literature on chaplains of various overseas armies, Australian Army chaplains have received little attention from historians, apart from a handful of studies that have examined chaplains in the First World War. This paper therefore assesses the impact of twentieth-century wartime mobilisations of chaplains on the soldiers with whom they worked, on their churches and on the Australian society to which they returned.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAustralian Historial Association (AHA) Conference - University of Wollongong, Australia
Duration: 08 Jul 201312 Jul 2013


ConferenceAustralian Historial Association (AHA) Conference


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