WW1 Chaplain’s Letters from France
Letters from Chaplain Malcom Slicer Taylor
by Chaplain (Major) Daryl Densford
Love, dolls, ministry, eggs and mother. Just a few of the topics Chaplain Taylor discussed with his wife in letters from France just days after the end of World War One.
Chaplain Malcom S. Taylor was a First Lieutenant, serving at the II Corps Headquarters (along with three other chaplains) in France. I do not know much about Chaplain Taylor except from a few documents and the few postal covers and letters to his wife that I have found. From those letters I discovered that he was from Berryville, Virginia (or at least his wife was there during his deployment) and was in France when the war ended, departing Hoboken, NJ for France on the Agamemnon on 16 October 1918, returning on the La Touraine from Le Havre, departing on 9 February 1919 and arriving just 10 days later in New York, NY. However, when he wrote these letters, he wasn’t expecting to be home until May 15, though “without anything at all definite to go on”. While he doesn’t use his wife’s name in his letters, the ship manifest from his voyage to France gives here name as Agnes.
In his letters I see a man who loved his wife and children very much, talking about day-to-day family business (including a pay raise he was expecting) as well as gifts for the children and his love for all of them. His letters also reveal a chaplain who was concerned with effectively ministering to his Soldiers as well as being a blessing to the innocent victims of war.
Below are transcriptions of Chaplain Taylor’s letters to his wife in November and December 1918, followed by pictures of some of the postal covers that he also mailed letters to her in from France. Notice that the first letter was written just 13 days after the war ended, on November 24, 1918!