Page 5, 26th January 1940

26th January 1940
Page 5
Page 5, 26th January 1940 — 5,000 CATHOLICS IN CANADIAN FORCE

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People: T. J. McCarthy
Locations: London


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They Find the War "chieern and England Cold

More than 5,000 of the Canadian soldiers who have come to Europe are Catholics. They are finding the war queer and England cold.

Their Chaplain-General, the Rev. Major T. J. McCarthy, M.C., who has been interviewed by a C.H. reporter, tells below of the Catholic Canadians' reactions to the war. There is much disgust at the extreme isolationist views of many American Catholics.

From a Staff Reporter I met on Tuesday the ChaplainGeneral to the Canadian Active Service Force, the Rev. Major T. .1. McCarthy, M.G., of London, Ontario.

This is the second time he has come to Europe as a war chaplain. He finds Britain this time rather grim. "There's no glamour about this war," he said. "The soldiers know now something of what they're in for when the fighting begins. People aren't shouting enthusiastically about killing 'the Bochea either."

Fr. McCarthy was in the war for four years last time, and nearly the whole of the four years was spent in France. He saw very little of London, but what he did use gave him the Impression of an exceptionally lively city. He didn't get the same impression In December, 1939.

" We had read about the black-out in the newspapers, of course, but no description had prepared us for the intensity of the darkness on our first Journey across England, from the place of disembarkation to the barracks." (This journey, by the way, took just under twenty-four hours—several of those hours being spent in the cold, dark, early morning on a siding.)

" Coldest Place They Know"

I asked what sort of impression the Canadian /soldiers' had so far got of Britain. (No, it was not a particularly bright question!) The Chaplain said: ' Their chief impression is that it's about

the coldest place they know. . It's probably many more degrees below zero in Canada, but there's a dry quality in the air so -that when you breathe it in deeply it invigorates you. Here it makes you cough. It's not the cold the men dislike so much as the dampness that goes with it.

"Then, too, the men don't understand why you Britons like being so cold indoors as well as outdoors. In your homes you manage to get one room fairly warm—in fact, blisteringly warm by the fireplace—whilst most of the other rooms are frigid. In the trains there doesn't seem to be any heating." I assured him that there was on certain privileged expresses. I mentioned, too, something about the attractiveness of fires blazing on open hearths. It was not, I fear, very convincing.

However, apart from the coldness, it seems the Canadians find things much to their liking: London particularly.

Lack of Prayers for Peace

Fr. McCarthy told me that over 5,000 Catholics were among the Canadians in Britain. Many of them were of Irish and French blood. There were five chaplains, Including Fr. McCarthy, to look after therm Four of the chaplains have not done war service before. There Is, as one would imagine, quite a tot of work for the chapIaine to do. Every facility is given the men by the Army authorities for the practice of their religion. The only need not yet satisfied is, according to Fr. McCarthy. that of a reading room. The provision of this is made difficult by the transient nature of

ethoeunteryta.y. of the Canadians in Ms I asked what were the reactions to the present condition of the war. I was told most of the Canadians thought it "darned queer " and hoped for rather more activity, as they argued that the sooner we get something done the sooner the war will be over."

The chaplains themselves, of course, are anxious for the war to end as quiekly as possible; indeed, Fr. McCarthy WM surprised that there went not tnore evidences in England that the people were praying for peace, for in Canada when he left public prayers for peace were being 1;444 at every Mass.

Garrison Church

There is a good deal of disgust among Canadian Catholics at the more extreme isolationist views of American Catholics clerical and lay, Fr. McCarthy told me. Whilst there is some understanding felt for an attitude of impartial neutrality, It ie considered that some of the American Catholic opinions have been so bitterly hostile to Great Britain as to be inevitably pro-German. Fr. McCarthy considered that such opinions were expressed chiefly by Catholics of Irish or German descent. He thought that now when Germany had become so obviously linked with Russia in the destruction of Finland, isolationist sentiment among American Catholics Is becoming much less pronounced. Before I left Fr. McCarthy I accompanied him to the garrison church, a modest building with a comfortable predominance of wood in it: there are no pews but instead wheel-back chairs. One soldier knelt before the Lady Altar. The chaplain told me that every day public prayers are said in the church. The average attendance of soldiers is fifty.

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