The Second World War - Creating a Branch

With the end of the First World War, the Office of the Director of Chaplain Services in Ottawa was closed and the Canadian Chaplain Service 'dropped out of existence' (DND 2003b, 1.2). However, when war was again declared in 1939, Anglican bishop and war veteran George Anderson Wells used his 'high-ranking Militia contacts' to re-establish the chaplain service. At the same time, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to allow the government to use the Quebec churches as air raid shelters in exchange for a separate military chaplain service for Roman Catholics (1.2). As a result of determination and experience from Anglican and Roman Catholic quarters, a loosely defined joint chaplaincy developed (Crerar 1995, 229).

From 1939 to 1945, chaplains again contributed to the war effort by supporting troop morale and providing spiritual services to military personnel.5 For the first time, in addition to Militia and Royal Canadian Air Force chaplains, Royal Canadian Naval chaplains joined the ranks to serve Canadian personnel on board ships bound for Europe. At the end of the war, on 9 August 1945, the chaplaincy found a permanent place in Canadian military history with the formation of the Canadian Chaplain Services Protestant and Roman Catholic. This formal joint service employed 137 Protestant and 162 Roman Catholic clergymen (DND 2003b, 1.3). At the end of the Second World War, like so many soldiers, military chaplains came home weary and disenchanted; some returned to churches and a few stayed on with the military (Howie 2006, 59).

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