|Royal Army Chaplains' Department|
|Active||23 September 1796 - present|
|Garrison/HQ||Marlborough Lines, Andover|
|Motto(s)||"In this Sign Conquer"|
|March||Prince of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary)|
|Chaplain General||Clinton Langston|
|Tactical recognition flash|
The Army Chaplains' Department (AChD) was formed by Royal Warrant of 23 September 1796. Previously chaplains had been part of individual regiments, but not on the central establishment. Only Anglican chaplains were recruited until 1827, when Presbyterians were recognised, but not commissioned until 1858. Roman Catholic chaplains were recruited from 1836, Methodist chaplains from 1881, and Jewish chaplains from 1892. During the First World War some 4,400 Army Chaplains were recruited and 179 lost their lives on active service. The Department received the "Royal" prefix in February 1919. During the Second World War another 96 British and 38 Commonwealth Army Chaplains lost their lives.
From 1946 until 1996, the RAChD's Headquarters, Depot and Training Centre were at Bagshot Park in Surrey, now the home of The Earl and Countess of Wessex. In 1996, they moved to the joint service Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House near Andover.
There are about 150 serving regular chaplains (commonly known as "padres") in the British Army; these can be Catholic, one of several protestant denominations, or to the Jewish faith. Uniquely within the British Army, the Royal Army Chaplains' Department has different cap badges for its Christian and Jewish officers.
Army chaplains, although they are all commissioned officers of the British Army and wear uniform, do not have executive authority. They are unique within the British Army in that they do not carry arms. At services on formal occasions, chaplains wear their medals and decorations on their clerical robes (many chaplains have been decorated for bravery in action, including four Victoria Crosses: James Adams, Noel Mellish, Theodore Hardy and William Addison).
The RAChD's motto is "In this Sign Conquer" as seen in the sky before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Its regimental march, both quick and slow, is the Prince of Denmark's March, erroneously known as the Trumpet Voluntary.
The Museum of Army Chaplaincy was located at Amport House near Andover, Hampshire. It closed to visitors in November 2019 and will reopen in the summer of 2021 at a new building at the Defence Academy site at Shrivenham, near Swindon.
Representative denominations in the RAChD
Chaplains are either classified as Jewish or as a member of one of the following eight Christian denominational groups:
- Anglican (Church of England, Church of Ireland, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church)
- Presbyterian (Church of Scotland and Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
- Roman Catholic Church
- Methodist Church
- United Board, incorporating the Baptist Church - Baptist Union of Great Britain & Baptist Union of Scotland, United Reformed Church and Congregational Church
- Elim Pentecostal Church
- Assemblies of God
- Salvation Army
- Free Church of Scotland
- Churches in Communities
There are also religious advisors from other faiths.
However, an Army chaplain is expected to minister to and provide pastoral care to any soldier who needs it, no matter their denomination or faith or lack of it. In 2011 following a freedom of information request on Ministry of Defence spending on chaplaincy, the National Secular Society requested that £22m of spending should come directly from churches while professional counselling should continue to be funded by the tax payer, in order to better serve the non-religious in the military. The proposal was rejected by the Church of England. As of 2018 there are no non-religious chaplains in the British armed forces although organisations such as Defence Humanists (previously known as the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association) and the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN) continue to advocate for it. The Armed forces of the Netherlands have had Humanist chaplains since 1 September 1964 known as Humanist Counseling in the Dutch Armed Forces.
Chaplains are the only British Army officers who do not carry standard officer ranks. They are officially designated Chaplain to the Forces (CF) (e.g. "The Reverend John Smith CF"). They do, however, have grades which equate to the standard ranks and wear the insignia of the equivalent rank. Chaplains are usually addressed as "Padre" //, never by their nominal military rank.
- Chaplain-General (CG) = Major-General
- Deputy Chaplain-General (DCG) = Brigadier
- Chaplain to the Forces 1st Class (CF1) = Colonel
- Chaplain to the Forces 2nd Class (CF2) = Lieutenant-Colonel
- Chaplain to the Forces 3rd Class (CF3) = Major
- Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class (CF4) = Captain
The senior Church of England chaplain is ranked within the church hierarchy as an archdeacon – he or she holds the appointment of Archdeacon for the Army whether or not he or she is also the Chaplain-General. The senior Roman Catholic Chaplain (usually a CF1) is sometimes ranked as a monsignor.
List of Chaplains General
- 4 October 1796 – 1810 (res.): John Gamble (first CG)
- 10 March 1810 – 1824 (d.): John Owen
- 12 July 1824 – 1844 (d.): Robert Hodgson
- 2 July 1846 – 1875 (ret.): George Gleig
- 7 April 1875 – 1884 (d.): Piers Claughton
- 8 February 1885 – 1 November 1901 (ret.): Cox Edghill
- 1 November 1901 – 1925: John Taylor Smith
- 1925–1931 (res.): Alfred Jarvis
- 1931–1939: Ernest Thorold
- 1939–1944 (ret.): Charles Symons
- 6 November 1944 – 1951 (res.): Llewelyn Hughes
- 6 November 1951 – 1960 (res.): Victor Pike
- 11 June 1960 – 1966: Ivan Neill
- 8 February 1966 – 1974 (ret.): John Youens
- 1 July 1974 – 1980: Peter Mallett
- 1980–31 December 1986: Frank Johnston
- 1 January 1987 – 1995: James Harkness (Scottish Presbyterian, first non-Anglican Chaplain-General)
- 3 February 1995 – 2000: Victor Dobbin (Irish Presbyterian minister)
- 13 May 2000 – 2004: John Blackburn
- 2004–2008: David Wilkes (Methodist)
- 2008–2011: Stephen Robbins
- 29 July 2011 – 2014: Jonathan Woodhouse (Baptist)
- September 2014 – 2018 David Coulter (Church of Scotland)
- December 2018 – present: Clinton Langston
Deputy Chaplain General
- 1915 to 1919: Llewellyn Gwynne; first incumbent
- 1941 to 1945 : Alfred Thomas Arthur Naylor
- 1985 to 1986: James Harkness
- 1986 to 1989: Tom Robinson
- 1989 to 1993: Graham Roblin
- 1993 to 1995: Alan Dean
- 1996 to 1999: John Holliman
- 1999 to 2000: John Blackburn
- 2000 to 2004: David Wilkes
- 2008 to 2011: Jonathan Woodhouse
- 2011 to 2014: David Coulter
- 2014 to 2017: Peter Eagles
- 2017 to 2018: Clinton Langston
- 2018 to 2020: Michael Fava
Order of precedence
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
|Order of Precedence||Succeeded by|
Royal Logistic Corps
Some notable Army chaplains
- Michael Adler DSO
- William Addison VC
- Edward Armstrong Bennett MC
- Harry Blackburne DSO MC
- A. C. Bouquet
- Tubby Clayton (Founder, Toc H)
- Francis Lyon Cohen
- David Cooper
- Cox Edghill
- Willie Doyle MC
- Francis Gleeson
- Samuel Leighton Green MC
- Alexander Macdonell
- Theodore Hardy VC DSO MC
- James Harkness KCVO CB OBE
- Hugh Hornby MC
- Rupert Inglis, former England rugby international
- Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy MC ("Woodbine Willie")
- Noel Mellish VC
- George Smith (Padre at Rorke's Drift)
- Neville Talbot
- Maurice Wood
Padres in combat dress
- Royal Air Force Chaplains Branch
- Royal Navy Chaplaincy Service
- Bishop to the Forces (Anglican)
- Bishopric of the Forces (Roman Catholic)
- Military chaplain#United Kingdom
- International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference
- Religion in the United Kingdom
- Toc H
- Military archdeacons
- Category:Royal Army Chaplains' Department officers
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- Snape p 146
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