Church Army

Captain George Kirkup talks about his time in Italy during the Battle of Monte Cassino. He said: “A walk with the mule-train along the ‘mad mile’, a rough road directly beneath the monastery walls, was an experience I will never forget. I delivered some cakes to forward troops and had a word with casualties waiting to be carried back down the line. Here I first heard the guns called ‘sobbing sisters’ or ‘moaning minnies’. Flares lit up the sky and snipers aimed at our convey, and yet the morale of the men was significant.


“After the breakthrough of our troops from Cassino I stayed with the Irish until they pulled out of the line and sailed to Cairo. We not only had fellowship over a cup of tea but in holes and tent we would open the Bible and share the reading of it by the light of a candle handed on from one to another. Our prayer time had the element of peace which the squalor and noise of the battle could not destroy. I like to think that it gave courage and hope to the lads for the unnatural environment they were forced to share.”



Sister Agnes Dibb recalls her work at the large naval base at Lowestoft during World War Two: “It was just chock-a-block with sailors and WRNS. Most, if not all, of their free days and hours were spent in the houses or church rooms run by Church Army. There was never a dull moment and how the young men and girls loved their days with us. We were always pleased also to put up parents for a few days.


“We were bombed day and night and fortunately received no injuries though shops and houses were blitzed every night. We were so very luck and praised the Lord for His wonderful care.

“I always felt that I was in the right place during those war days, and afterwards thought how privileged I was to help the young people and their relatives. The naval padres used my little chapel so much, they appreciated the quiet place open to them at any time.”

By Hannah Gray




The Diocese of Derby

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