Chaplain Ministry at Sea
Travelling from the United States to their duty in the Philippines onboard a transport ship, Soldiers relied on the chaplains onboard to provide for their religious and spiritual needs. In October 1945, just weeks after the Japanese surrender ending WW2 in the Pacific, a contingent of 252 officers and 1055 enlisted men travelled onboard the Kota Baroe en route to Leyte in the Philipines which was anticipated to take about 20 days.
The ship’s daily newspaper, the Pacific Voyager, regularly included “The Chaplain’s Corner” by Chaplain (Capt.) Charles H. Toogood. The first issue helped to prepare the passengers for what religious services would be provided on their journey, including available resources:
Religious news and announcements from the ship’s chaplain, Capt H. Toogood, will be printed daily in this section of “The Voyager.”
Thursday Capt Toogood stated that:
A good supply of Testaments, Prayer Books, Rosaries, Mezuzahs and Devotional literature is available to men of all faiths if they will ask at the Library or see the Transport Chaplain.
He also announced that men of the Jewish faith interested in a Friday night service should see the Transport Chaplain.
Religious services will be conducted this Sunday, October 7, on hatch No 3. At 0900 a Rosary service for men of the Catholic faith. At 1000 a General Worship service for men of the Protestant faith.
A Bible Study and Discussion class will be held each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon between the hours of 1400 and 1500. Men interested in the formation of such a class are invited to attend a meeting next Tuesday afternoon at 1400 in the Army and Naval Permanent Personnel Mess hall. This room is situated in C deck Port side aft of the ships housing.
Of course, the events onboard ship sometimes interfere with religious services, like what happened about midway through the Kota Baroe’s journey to the Philipines, but other opportunities were made available:
The Bible study and discussion class scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled, Chaplain H. Toogood announced.
The meeting was called off to avoid interfering with the boxing tournament. The next meeting of the group will be Thursday afternoon.
Chaplain Toogood also stated that a hymn sing similar to the one last Sunday, will be held on hatch no. 3 on Thursday afternoon at 1500 hours.
In the last issue of the Pacific Voyager, Chaplain Toogood expressed his appreciation for those who participated in the religious services and helped to prepare them for what they would find when they arrived in Manila:
With the final edition of the “Voyager” we take this opportunity to express our thanks to all who have contributed to the enjoyment of this voyage.
The city of Manila where you will land was once a large and flourishing metropolis. It enjoyed all the modern conveniences found in any great city but Manila came in the path of war and so today the city lies in ruins. Its parks and buildings show the destructive power of modern warfare. Its people have also suffered. This you should try to remember as you live and work among them. They have a high regard for Americans and you can, by your conduct, help to maintain that standard of respect. We wish for each of you a pleasant tour of duty, good health and a safe and speedy return to your homes and loved ones.
-Charles H. Toogood.
Quoted articles from Pacific Voyager, No’s. 1, 11 & 18, October 1945 (author’s collection).