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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

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I'm researching some letters left by Colonel Graham Chaplin, CO Ist Cameronians 1915-17, and I'm curious to find out more information about the Roman Catholic priest Padre McShane who accompanied the Cams and struck up a close friendship with Chaplin (despite the regiment being rooted in Presbyterianism they had quite a few Catholic soldiers). Chaplin, from his letters, is pretty much agnostic, but is clearly impressed by McShane's bravery (and his whisky drinking).

I know of the controversy over Robert Graves' version of how McShane (who he renamed McCabe) rallied the troops at High Wood. And I can see McShane (sometimes spelt MacShane) wrote the Stoneyhurst obituary for another Cameronian officer, CDW Rooke, in 1915.

I wondered if anyone had any more information about McShane, his background - Glasgow? - previous parishes, other mentions of him, or even his full name. Or any clues as to how one can research WW1 padres? Did the various churches or the Army keep lists of who went?

I've had a look around the internet on the topic and drawn a blank so far. Any help would be appreciated.

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I would suggest that the Catholic Directory (probably that of Scotland, rather than England and Wales) would be a good bet. You could then follow it through until he dies and then search around for an obituary in the Catholic press of the time. If you do find him, it should indicate his diocese/congregation and from there you can probably track down the relevant ecclesiastic archive which should have some, at least basic, information.

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The Rev J H McShane – you will find him on this page from the LG


He receives a couple of mentions in 'The Cross on the Sword – Catholic Chaplains in the Forces' by Johnstone & Hagerty, but there is very little detail at all.

One is the v. brief Somme ref which you mention, but in this case from the version by W C Dunn in his 'The War the Infantry Knew'

The Army Chaplains Department today have their own museum (I think?) and it may well be worthwhile contacting them

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  • 5 weeks later...

Reverend James Henry McShane was awarded the Military Cross in the New Years Honours List Jan 1917 see https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29886/supplement/38/data.htm

His Army Service record is at Kew : http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C715528

His Medal card can be downloaded http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D3882439

He joined the Army Chaplains Department on 30 Dec 1914. He was with the BEF from 29 Apr 1915 - 12 Sept 1918.

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  • 7 years later...

He is mentioned in the history of the First Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Apparently he replaced Fr Hessenauer as Batt Chaplain in Jan 1918.

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