With the Vicar to Cairo Postcard

This week’s postcard is something of a departure as it is not a photograph’ but a hand drawn cartoon of a Royal Navy padre leading an excursion of sailors on a trip to Cairo:

The ship can be seen in the Mediterranean at the top of the drawing:

The Vicar is in the centre leading a mixture of ratings and marines on their excursion:

Whilst at the bottom is a drawing of the pyramids and the Sphinx, sporting a jaunty sailor’s cap:

The back of the postcard reads ‘sky pilots’ trip to Cairo with a few of his “cherubs”‘, 1931:

The chaplain to HMS Hood described the padre’s unique place within the ship’s company:

The Padre is a man apart, in that he has no specific rank and is thus different from the other officers.

The role of the padre was a difficult balancing act:

Avoid anything which might label you an officer’s parson: more than one chaplain has been thus labelled by the ship’s company because he happens to be a keen bridge player, and gets caught up with a section of officers who play in the dog watches and after dinner. Those are the times when the chaplain can wander round the messdecks, or organise some upper deck games or concerts for his parish. If they only see you at Morning Prayers, in the chapel and on Sundays, then you are not doing your job.

By making contact in a quiet way each day, the men will gradually come to realise that (a) you like their company and (b) that you are their friend. The latter must depend upon your own personality and the power to convince them that you never betray their confidence not carry tales aft to the wardroom. A chaplain can easily be thought a spy, and therefore treated with reserve by the ship’s company if the word is passed round that the chaplain ‘only comes for’ard to find out things’…

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