Sky Pilots: The Yankee Division Chaplains in World War I, by Michael E. Shay
Columbia, Mo.:University of Missouri, 2014. Pp. xxiv, 216. Illus., append., notes., biblio., index. $50.00. ISBN: 0826220312.
Chaplains at War
Shay, a seasoned
who is the author of two works on the 26th Division in the Great War, The Yankee Division in the First World War and Revered Commander, Maligned General,
gives us a look at the rather neglected chaplaincy during the Great War.
opens with a chapter that ably summarizes the early history of the American military chaplaincy through the outbreak of the war, and the enormous expansion that took place as the U.S. entered the war.
He then takes up the story of the
nearly 40 men who served as chaplains with the New England’s 26th Division, Shaygives us short biographies of each man, as he follows them into the service. We see them training with their troops and crossing the seas in rather deplorable transports to encountered a new and different culture in France. He then takes them into the trenches, where their training often proved inadequate.
of these chaplains
to help illustrate their service and the services they delivered to their troops.
Chaplains of course administered to the
needs of the men, regardless of faith, and often
lenta hand with the wounded. On several rare occasions chaplains plunged into the fighting alongside their troops.
In many cases Shay is able to give us a quite full picture of the man involved, while in others
the sparsity of sources
permit him to
fill in some details.
he tries to carry the story of each man into the postwar years, and many went on to some prominence in religious life and society. Shay’s account not only gives us some unique glimpses of work of these chaplains but also reminds us of the remarkably ecumenical spirit to prevailed in the chaplaincy at the time, one which endured through the rest of the century, but seems now under attack from some chaplains who seem to put proselytization above service.
A volume in the University of Missouri Press series “American Military Experience,”
is an excellent read for anyone interested in the chaplaincy or in the Great War.
Sky-Pilots is also available as an e-Book, $50.00, ISBN 978-0-8262-7324-6
Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor
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