Sunday, June 20, 2010

Curé de Combat

6 comments:

epsilon said...

beautiful!

Michael Petek said...

Cure de Combat?

Est-ce qu'il ya aussi un Horse de Combat?

pelerin said...

Definitely a 'leap of faith.'

Sussex Catholic said...

There is a great tradition of Catholic chaplains to the Airborne Forces. Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the Jesuit schools Wimbledon College and its prep school Donhead. What many may not know is that the headmaster of Donhead from 1949 until 1971 was Fr.Bernard Egan SJ. Fr.Egan was one of the first Army chaplains to volunteer for the newly formed Airborne Forces in WWII. He was also one of the first chaplains to make a parachute jump. He became Catholic Chaplain to the Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2PARA) and jumped into action with the Battalion in the Allied invasion of Sicily. For his actions with the battalion in Sicily Fr.Egan was awared the Military Cross for gallantry.

Later 2 PARA took part in the now infamous Operation Market Garden to seize the bridges in Holland immortalised in the film "A Bridge Too Far". The Brtish paratroopers who seized Arnhem held out as long as they could but the advancing Allied army took too long to reach them. In the end a daring plan to escape across the river by night through enemy lines was hatched. Fr.Egan SJ MC was one of many chaplains and medical staff who volunteered to stay behind at the soliders' posts to deceive the enemy that they were all still there. By the time the position was overrun and the now wounded Fr.Egan was taken prisoner his comrades were safely back. He spent the remainder of the war in a German POW camp.

I was privileged to attend his funeral at the Sacred Heart Church in Wimbledon in 1988 at which a bugler from 2PARA played the last post and a wreath from The Parachute Regiment was presented at his coffin by Maj Gen John Frost who as a Lt.Col had commanded the battalion at Arnhem (played by Anthony Hopkins in the film).

A humble and heroic priest and master of understatement Fr.Egan was once asked what the nerves and fear of waiting to jump into action felt like and he replied with wonderful Jesuit aplomb "rather like when one is padded up and waiting to go into bat".

Picture of him in military attire can be seen at:

http://www.89fss.com/affiliated/rachd.htm

Rev.Bernard Mary Egan SJ MC. RIP

joan said...

Awesome.
Thanks for posting this.

Sonia said...

Cool. Anyone else have Flying Nun flashbacks?