Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Remembering A Murdered DDay Chaplain

Yesterday during the Eucharist of the Anglican Military Ordinariate of the Canadian Forces, our guest speaker, Fr. Bill Cliff, came from Huron College in London, Ontario, with this relic.




This chalice and stole are from the communion kit of Padre Walter Brown, a Huron College grad who served as padre with the Sherbrooke Fusiliers, an armored regiment that landed on Juno Beach 68 yeas ago today.

On the night of 6/7 June, Padre Brown and two other soldiers were moving up from the beach to a field hospital when they were captured by soldiers from the 12th SS Hitler Youth division. One soldier was killed, another was wounded and escaped. The wounded man described seeing Padre Brown, a non-combatant, approaching the SS soldiers with his hands raised. Brown's bayonetted body was recovered weeks later. Brown is buried at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery near Reviers in Normandy. His communion kit was found with his body.

Padre Brown's communion kit was found in an antique store some years ago was returned to the Anglican seminary at Huron College, on the condition that it be used in worship and teaching. On the eve of the anniversary of DDay and of his martyrdom, it was a great blessing to take the Eucharist and to be in communion with this padre colleague and exemplar.



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5 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

That was a nice touch and well done but a sad tale all the same!

Anibal Invictus said...

Very moving story

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

When the roll is called up yonder, he'll be there.

Thomas Nissvik said...

Very moving story indeed. How did they identify his communion kit? Do the parts have an army serial number or is it engraved with his name and number or how does it work?

mad padre said...

Thomas:
As I understand it, the communion kit was still in the pack on Padre Brown's body when it was found six weeks after his death. British and Commonwealth communion kits, as I understand it, were standard issue, consisting of a silver chalice, paten (a small plate for the bread), containers for wine, water and oil, etc, all contained in a hardened brown leather carrying case. I have one myself and it is identical to the one brought by Fr. Cliff. I don't think these kits were individually marked or serialized, but the silver hardware does have the broad arrow stamp traditionally used to mark property of the British army.
As I understand it. Padre Brown's kit was returned to his mother in 1946 by his colleagues, but at some point it left the family and ended up in an antique store, where it was spotted by a sharp eyed person who was researching Huron College grads who had served in WW2.
The thing that allowed it to be positively identified was that someone, probably a soldier, had made a small wooden box, probably to carry bread (hosts)', and Brown had carved his named into the box.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
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