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Biographical Information on some of the Chaplains that served with the airborne forces in the Second World War 

Airborne Padres
Airborne Padres Cartoon
Airborne Padres Cartoon

Gerad Bankes : Roman Catholic, chaplain to the 5th Battalion (Scottish) , 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Bernard Joseph Benson: Roman Catholic. Chaplain to 18th Air Landing Field Ambulance. Fr Benson was the son of Henry and Bridget Benson, of Shipley, Yorkshire. He trained to become a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesuits, before embarking on service with the with the Royal Army Chaplains Department, gaining his commission on October 17 1941. He died of wounds September 27 1944. 

Leslie Beckingham : Baptist, chaplain to the 8th Parachute Brigade and 224 Field Ambulance.

Bernard Joseph Benson: Roman Catholic. Chaplain to 18th Field Ambulance. Fr Benson was the son of Henry and Bridget Benson, of Shipley, Yorkshire. He trained to become a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesuits, before embarking on service with the with the Royal Army Chaplains Department, gaining his commission on October 17 1941. He died of wounds September 27 1944.

Airborne Chaplain Bernard Benson
Bernard Benson

Raymond F. Bowers : Church of England. Chaplain to the 10th Parachute Battalion Padre Bowers was born 4/11/1916. He graduated from London University and was ordained deaconto serve in the parish St Catherine Neasden cum Kingsbury in 1940. In September 1943 he was commissioned into the RAChD. After being captured at Arnhem he was a POW at Stalag V11-A at Moosburg . After the war he worked as a missionary for the Church Missionary Society in Uganda for 15 years. He became Home Education Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, London, 1961-1966. He was perpetual curate of St Stephen’s, Lansdown, Bath from 1966-1969, becoming parish priest at Richmond Place, Bath in 1969. He was Rural Dean in the Bath area till 1975. He then had a parish in the Lake District, before retiring in 1980. Published: In search of England’s smallest church (1980); On the move [: the story of a varied and effective Christian ministry at home and abroad] (1989; memoirs). He died 14 08 2001. 

William C.T Briscoe : Roman Catholic, Chaplain to 225 Parachute Field Ambulance and 8th Parachute Battalion Fr Briscoe was born at Port Sunlight , in December 1910.H spent 6 years at Oscott College and was ordained in 1937. He served as a curate at Holy Cross Church Birkenhead before being commissioned into the RAChD. Post War he served as a chaplain in the Royal Navy before becoming parish priest at St Winefride’s Church, Neston. He retired in 1884.

Airborne Chaplain William Briscoe
William Briscoe

Alan Alexander Buchanan : Church of Ireland , Chaplain to the Second South Staffordshire Regiment . Mentioned in Despatches. Padre Buchanan was born in Fintona February 28, 1905. He was educated at a Masonic boys school and Trinity College, Dublin, and he was ordained in 1931 . He worked with the Church of Ireland Mission in Belfast until 1937 .After the war he returned to be incumbent of St Mary Belfast 1945-1955 and rector of Bangor, County Down 55-58. He was Bishop of Clogher from 1958 to 1969, when he became Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of all Ireland. He resigned in 1977 and died on 4 February 1984. He was married to Audrey Kathryn Crone and had two daughters.

Geoffrey Harper : Church of England. Senior Chaplain to the 1st Airborne Division 

Airborne Chaplain Wilfred Chignell
Wilfrid Chignell on return from Arnhem

Wilfrid R. Chignell : Church Of England, Chaplain to Glider Wing 2 . Mentioned in Despatches twice. Padre Chignell served with Glider wing 2 until 1946 . The first mention in despatches was for his conduct during Market Garden and second time for his courage and devotion to duty during three years as wing chaplain.

Chignell was born in 1908 in Worcester, educated at Kings school, Worcester and Sarum College. He was ordained in 1933 and married Pauline in 1936, becoming senior curate at Huddersfield parish Church in the same year . During the late 30s and early days of the war he was vicar of Cressage near Shrewsbury. He became commissioned in the RAChD in 1943 After his war service he was the vicar of Fownhope and Brockhampton, vicar of Kington, Huntingdonshire and his last parish of Winterbourne, Worcestershire. He died January 15 1994 aged 84.

Edward Nalder ‘Joe’ Downing : Church of England , Chaplain to the 2nd Parachute Brigade Padre Downing won a scholarship to Worcester College Oxford in 1929 where he discovered a talent for rowing. He went for ordination training at Westcott House, Cambridge in 1934, and was ordained in 1935, serving his title at Bristol ,St John the Evangelist. He them joined Toc H, became a chaplain Toc H from 37-39, living in a ‘Mark’ for two years. He considered that Toc H had taught him something about living with men of all sorts. He joined the RAChD October 8 1939, transferring to the Airborne Division in 1942
Post War he was chaplain to St Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth and returned to be Chaplain to the Forces 1947-1955 before continuing parochial ministry. In 1988 he took part in an “airborne day” at Manchester Airport, and took a sunset service around the parachute memorial stone.
Airborne Chaplain Bernard Egan
Bernard Egan
Bernard Egan: Roman Catholic. Chaplain to the 2nd Parachute Battalion. Military Cross 1944. Fr Egan was born 1915. Before war he was games master at Beaumont College, Old Windsor. After war he returned to teaching, was headmaster at Wimbledon College preparatory school in London. He suffered for many years from wounds which incapacitated him in later life. He died in 1998 aged 83. 

Whitfield Foy : Methodist . Chaplain to the 13th (Lancashire ) Parachute Battalion . Military Cross 1945. Padre Foy was born in New Delaval in Northumberland in 1916 . He was educated at Headingly College and commenced serving as a Methodist minister, while completing a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He was commissioned into the RAChD in 1943. After being demobilised from Malaya he served as a minister at Wesley Church Cambridge, before being sent to Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1955. to become the minister of the main Methodist Church there, where he was forthright in condemning discrimination. He returned to Britain in 1961.

Airborne Chaplain Whitfield Foy
Whitfield Foy

Benedict Fenlon RC : Roman Catholic. Chaplain to the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Fr Fenlon was born at Rock Ferry on 23/8/1915. He won a scholarship to St Edward’s College Liverpool .He attended Ushaw College and was ordained in June 1941., working for a while in the parish of Elsmere Port. He was commissioned into the RAChD in February 1943 transferring into the airborne division in December 1943. Post war he was the chaplain of St Joseph’s Convent Upton and a priest in the parish of Alderney Edge in the 1960s. He retired to West Kirkby.

John Gwinnet : Church of England. Chaplain to 9th Parachute Battalion. Military cross 1945 Padre Gwinnett was educated at the Crypt school, Gloucester and was a former choir boy of St Catherine’s church Gloucester. He played rugby for Gloucester and took a degree at Leeds University, completing training for the ministry at Bishop’s College Cheshunt .He was ordained in 1940, becoming in curate at All Saints Cheltenham and joined the army in Nov 1942. Post war he took up incumbencies at Redgrave with Botesdale and after 1951, lower Loughton with Bradfield on the Green.

Airborne Chaplain John Gwinnett
John Gwinnett
George Hales : Senior Chaplain 6th Airborne Division , Military Cross at El Alamein.
Padre Hales born 1901 educated at Winchester, Jesus College Cambridge and Westcott house . He was ordained 1925 and became Curate in Petersfield in Hampshire He married 1928 ,and worked for Bishop Gwynne in Cairo. He was appointed to NetherAvon parish in 1937 . Pot War he was the incumbent of St Mary’s in Southampton and at Greens Norton in Northamptonshire.

John Hall : Presbyterian. 12th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment Padre Hall attended Leeds University, where he was captain of first rugby team .

Airborne Chaplain Bill Harlow
Bill Harlow

Albert W.H ‘Bill’ Harlow : Church of England, Senior chaplain 1st Airborne Division . Padre Harlow was educated St John’s Theological College, Perth , Australia. He was ordained in Perth 1929 and was vicar St Saviour’s Portsea 34-37. He became vicar of Middlewich in the diocese of Chester in 1937. He was commissioned into the RAChD in on 23 July 1940 at the Chester Depot. He had previously seen service in the First World War as an infantry man, serving with an Australian unit. He was ordained after the war and saw service in Middle East. He was Senior chaplain 59th Division in April 1942 and taken prisoner in June 1942, when he was mentioned in despatches .After being repatriated in April 1943 he was promoted to chaplain 3rd class and in Jan 1944 became senior chaplain to 1st Airborne Division. In November 1945 he was awarded the DSO 1945 and completed his army career as Chaplain 2nd Class in October 1946.He returned to his parish in Middlewich which and continued his career as priest in Cornwall, Sweden London and Sussex . His last address was in South Africa. 

Geoffrey Harper : Church of England Senior Chaplain to Ist Airborne Division. Educated at Litchfield Theological College. Ordained 1935 . Curate at St Peters, Bramlet 1935-1938, St Wilfrids, Leeds 1938. Post war became brother Paul of the Order of St Benedict at Alton Abbey.

George Alexander Harries: Church of England. Chaplain to the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Padre Harries was killed in action June 7 1944 aged 34 . He is buried at Granville war cemetery son of Alfred and Blanche Harris of Solihull, Warwickshire.

John J.A. Hodgins : Church of England. Senior Chaplain to 1st Airborne Division December 1941 . In July 1943 he became Senior Chaplain to 6th Division until beginning of 1944. He was mentioned in despatches 1944 . Padre Hodgins was educated at Trinity College Dublin. B.A. in 1932. He was ordained deacon 1933, becoming curate of Pershore 1933-1936. He was Chaplain to Forces 1936 to 1965 and Assistant Chaplain General 1959-1965. He was vicar of Helsby 1965-66 and vicar of Eaton Lincolnshire until retirement.

David Hourigan : Roman Catholic. Chaplain attached to 1st Air Landing Brigade. Fr Hourigan was born in Eire in 1907 He was a member of The Sacred Heart Fathers. KIA 12 July 1943 aged 36 years old. He is buried in grave I E 11 Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily

Airborne Chaplain David Hourigan
David Hourigan
Henry James Irwin : Chaplain to the 11th Parachute Battalion
Padre Irwin was the son of James Thomas and Sarah Ann Irwin, of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand KIA on 23/9/44 Arnhem . He is buried at Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

Alec Kay : Chaplain to the 8th Battalion He was mortally wounded bringing in casualties. Padre Kay was born in 1908, the son of Thomas and Fanny Kay, and husband of Janet Kay of Watermillock, Cumberland. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Chaplains Department in October 1940 and volunteered for airborne duties in 1943. He died of wounds on 7th June 1944 , aged 36.

J.F.Kenny : Roman Catholic , Chaplain to 224th Parachute Field Ambulance . Killed in Action on Operation Varsity, March 25th 1945.

Ronald Lunt : Church of England . Chaplain to 7 Commando 1941 , chaplain to HQ SAS 1943. Military Cross 1943; Padre Lunt was born in 1913 and was the son of Bishop Geoffrey Lunt, a Great War chaplain. He was educated at Queen’s College Oxford, obtaining an M.A and M.D . He trained for ordination at Westcott House. ordained in 1939, he became Assistant master at Radley College. Post war he held teaching appointments as head master of Liverpool College and Chief master of King Edward V1 school, Birmingham. He died 1994
Airborne Chaplain Murdo Mcdonald
Murdo Mcdonald

Murdo Ewan Macdonald : Church of Scotland Chaplain to the 2nd Parachute Battalion . Padre Macdonald served with Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders form April 1940, transferred to Airborne Division in 1942. POW 1943-1945 for a while at Stalag Luft 111 . He was born on the island of Harris . He studied Arts and Divinity at university of St Andrews , and was a member of the Officer Training Corps while a student . Ordained in 1939 Minister to parish of Portree, Isle of Skye pre-war. Post war became minister at Partick Old Parish Church 1947-149 and the at St George’s West parish Church, Edinburgh 149-1963 Became professor of Practical Theology at Trinity College Glasgow in 1966. He retired in 1984 and died in Glasgow in 2004.

Daniel McGowan : RC Chaplain to units in 4th Parachute Brigade. Military Cross . POW 1944-45. Fr McGown was born in.1913 and before the war served in the parish of Brighouse. He was commissioned into the RAChD in 1943, Fr McGowan resigned his orders after the war, married and worked as a probation officer and in Education. He was able to continue working after contracting severe polio which left him disabled. He died July 8 1981 in the Claro district of North Yorkshire . 

Airborne Chaplain Daniel McGowan
Feb 1945 Father D McGowan takes the service of Sgt Perrotta USAF. He had been put in an POW camp for aircrew because they were paras

Fraser McLuskey : Church of Scotland. Chaplain to 1st Battalion SAS. Military Cross. Padre McLusky was born in 1915, educated at Edinburgh University and New College, Edinburgh. He was appointed chaplain to University of Glasgow.He was commissioned into the RAChD 1943, left in 1950 . Minister in Broughty Ferry until 1955 then minister at Bearsden, Glasgow. In 1960 became minister to St Columba’s church London, and then moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1966/1967. He retired from St Columba’s in 1986 and died in July 2005.

Airborne Chaplain Fraser McLuskey
Fraser McLuskey

James McMurray-Taylor : Church of Ireland Chaplain 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles .6th Air landing brigade.

Padre McMurray Taylor : was born in Ballymena, Co. Antrim on 17th May 1916. He attended Trinity College, Dublin before becoming a Church of Ireland minister in 1939 at the age of 23 years old. Soon after this, war broke out and he enlisted with the Royal Ulster Rifles. Post War he became minister at Derrybrusk, County Fermanagh. In 1957 moved to Killadeas and Castle Archdale . He died in 2001.

Airborne Chaplain Alistair Menzies
Alistair Menzies

Alastair Charles Vass Menzies: Church of England Padre Menzies was born in September 1916. On being commissioned into the RAChD in October 1941,he as the youngest chaplain in the British army at that time . In 1942 he joined the 3rd Parachute Battalion and served with them in North Africa. In September 1943, attached to 156 Parachute Batalion he landed at Taranto and the returned to UK in December. He was with 156th Battalion at Arnhem, captured and became a POW at Oflag 79 .He continued as Territorial Chaplain after the war until 1957 and was awarded the territorial Decoration in 1966.From 1946 he was chaplain and deputy Head teacher at Epsom College and. He died in 17/3/205 aged 88.

J.McVeigh : Roman Catholic . Chaplain to 9th Parachute Battalion. Fr Mc Veigh was captured on D day, managed to escape and was recaptured and sent to POW camp 

James Gilbert Morrison: Church of Scotland. Chaplain to 7th Parachute Battalion.

Padre Morrison : Post war accepted a permanent commission. He was mentioned in despatches 1957 Malaya. Retired form RAChD IN 1970 Was a Presbyterian minister in Rotterdam until 1981.

David Nimmo : Church Of Scotland , Chaplain to the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

George Edward Maule Parry : Chaplain to the 7th Parachute Battalion , Padre Parry was born 1915 in Romford. He was educated at King’ s College and Cheshunt College. He was ordained in 1938, serving his title the parish of Leytonstone. He was commissioned into the RAChD in 1941 an after serving 19 months in West Africa, transferred to the Airborne Division. He was killed in action 6th June 1944. He is buried at Benouville Churchyard, Normandy. 

Airborne Chaplain George Parry
George Parry
Airborne Chaplain Walter Ogilvy
Walter Ogilvy
Walter Tulliedeph “Tully” Ogilvy :Church of England ,chaplain to 32nd Tank Brigade 1941in North Africa , POW in Italy June 1942 to April 1943, then chaplain to 8th Parachute Battalion. Padre Ogilvy was Born at Tanfield Vicarage County Durham in January 1916 . He educated at Shrewsbury House school, Harrow and Brasenose College Oxford . He was ordained in 1938 and became deacon of Canterbury Cathedral and taught at Dover College, acting also as its chaplain. He was Killed in Action on March 25 1945 , aged 33, taking part in Operation Varsity , the crossing of the Rhine He is buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

Geoffrey Arnold Francis Pare: Church of England , Chaplain 1st Glider Wing 1941. Mentioned in Despatches 1944. Padre Pre was educated University of Leeds and College of the Resurrection Mirfield . He was ordained in 1938 and became Curate of St Mary Liskard Post War, he was vicar of Maids Moreton 46-54 St James Latchford 54-70. He became an honorary of Canon Chester Cathedral from 1970 .He was Rector of West Kirby from 1970. He retire in 1970 and died in 1977. 

Airborne Chaplain Arnold Pare
Arnold Pare
Edward L ‘Bill’ Phillips : Church Of England, chaplain to 3rd Parachute Battalion Padre Phillips was born 1912 in India and educated at Eltham College, Oxford University and Wycliffe theological College . He was commissioned into the RAChD in January 1941 . He served with the 10th Parachute Battalion in Italy and then with the 3rd Parachute Battalion at Arnhem. He was POW at Oflag 70 , liberated 1945 . He left the army in July 1946, returning to parish ministry in Ide Hill. Kent. He ministered in Moulsecoomb. Sussex and Kingston, becoming Archdeacon of Lewes in 1965. He was married to Nancy and died in September 2016, aged 104.

Roy Ernest Price : Church of England . Chaplain to 1st Parachute Battalion , later chaplain to airborne training school at Hardwick House . Padre Price was educated at King’s College London, becoming an Associate of Kings College in 1938. He was ordained 1938. He became curate of Illminster in 1938 and was commissioned into the RAChD in 1940, transferring to Airborne in 1943. He was a regular Chaplain to the Forces 1947-1959 and vicar of South Stoke from 1959 to retirement.

J.K.S Reid : Church of Scotland .Chaplain to the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Padre Reid was ordained in 1939 as minister to Craigmillar Park Church, Edinburgh, and was also a chaplain to the cadet corps. He was commissioned into the RAChD in 1942 and was with the signals training unit in Huddersfield before transferring to the Airborne Division. On return to his parish he became chaplain to the Scottish Territorial Army Parachute Battalion 

John Rowell : Church of England. Chaplain to the 1st Battalion Borders. Mentioned in despatches Padre Rowell was educated at King’s College London, and was ordained in 1936, becoming curate of St Mary’s Rushden and then All Saints with Katherine’s Northampton . Post War he was vicar of Long Buckby 1947- 1950 , and them assistant priest at Salmesbury , Lancashire . In 1961 he became minister at Thurnham Kent , moving to Thurston Bury Edmunds in 1966. 

J.W.”JOCK” Robertson : Church of Scotland , Chaplain to the 5th Battalion , 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade

Selwyn Thorne: Church of England. Chaplain to the1st Light Regiment Royal Artillery
Padre Thorne was born in 1914, a son of a solicitor. He was born on March 1 1914 at Southend-on-Sea and went to Lindisfarne College before going up to Keble College, Oxford, where he read English and switched to Theology. He studied for Holy Orders at Cuddesdon, then was ordained by the Bishop of Chelmsford, and served as a curate at Woodford Green and Becton before being asked to volunteer to be a military chaplain. After the war he converted to the Roman Catholic Church . He trained for the Catholic Priesthood at St Edmund’s Ware and became a curate o St Brook Green before joining the Benedictine community at Downside , taking the name Dom Columba . He died March 1 2014, aged 101.

John Paschal Vaughn –Jones : Chaplain to 171 field regiment RA , Ist Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles, 6th Airborne Division. Educated King Edward V1 Grammar school Chelmsford and Keble College Oxford. Ordained in 1941 , as a curate volunteered for service in RAChD in 1943 . Post war he was chaplain with 6th Airborne in Palestine until 1947. He became Rector of Chipping Ongar in 1949 and became Rural Dean of Ongar in 1972. He retired in 1983 and died in 2010. Rev Robert Talbot Watkins: Methodist , Chaplain to the 1st Parachute Battalion , Awarded Military Cross and Liberty Cross for Norway 1945-46 Padre Watkins was born Jan 1 1913. He entered the Methodist ministry in 1938 and was commissioned into RAChD in 1941. He served Post War in Parishes at Oxford Hall, Manchester /Salford , Southpost ,Bristol and Sheffield . He was in the Territorial Army until 1962 and Territorial Army reserve until 1968 .He died in 1973.

Airborne Chaplain John Vaughn Jones
John Vaughn Jones