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The Parachuting Padre

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by GRW, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Never get tired of stories like this,
    "But for the SAS, this journey, two weeks after D-Day, would be one of the most dangerous missions of the Second World War – a parachute drop into the heart of occupied France, where the Germans were digging in. And where to be caught was a death sentence.
    Before leaping into the blackness outside, the battle-hardened men of A Squadron were checking their essential kit: weapons, ammunition, rations, sleeping bags and… their favourite clergyman.
    The troops knew they were likely to be operating behind enemy lines for months, so it was all the more important to have some religious and spiritual support as they risked their lives day after day for King and country.
    The man who had volunteered to go with them was Army Chaplain Fraser McLuskey, who eventually became affectionately known as the 'Parachuting Padre'.
    McLuskey had undergone intensive parachute and other training so that his presence would aid, not hinder, the soldiers.
    Like them, he was in no doubt of the consequences if he was discovered by the Nazis behind their lines: he would probably be executed, not simply taken as a prisoner of war.
    Now, 75 years after McLuskey was decorated for his bravery, even though he refused to carry a gun, I feel privileged to champion his gallantry.
    Army Chaplain Fraser McLuskey, pictured, volunteered to go behind German lines with the SAS and became affectionately known as the 'Parachuting Padre'
    James Fraser McLuskey – always known as Fraser – was born in Edinburgh on September 19, 1914, just over a month after the beginning of the First World War.
    His only sibling, Margaret, was seven years his senior. The McLuskey family soon moved to Aberdeen, where young Fraser's father ran a laundry business.
    As a boy, he sometimes accompanied the driver of the horse-drawn carriage on his laundry rounds. McLuskey attended Aberdeen Grammar School until 1931, showing talent at both rugby and ballroom dancing.
    Then he returned to Edinburgh with his family, starting a degree in arts and divinity at the city's university soon afterwards.
    Even as a teenager, he was convinced his future lay as a Church of Scotland minister.
    In 1938, with the benefit of a travel scholarship, McLuskey spent three months in Germany, where he became interested in the Confessional Church, which opposed Hitler's efforts to take over the Protestant churches.
    McLuskey had a strong personal objection to the racist doctrines of the Nazi party and, while in Germany, he met and became engaged to Irene Calaminus, the daughter of a German pastor.
    On his return to the UK, he began a job as Scottish Secretary of the Student Christian Movement.
    On August 24, 1939, with war looming, he married Irene in Edinburgh.
    The groom was 24, his bride 26. Like her new husband, Irene hated all that Hitler stood for, and the war meant she was separated from her family indefinitely.
    McLuskey, gentle and devout, was appointed as chaplain to the University of Glasgow, and in the spring of 1943 he was given leave of absence to attend the Army Chaplains' Training Centre in Tidworth, Wiltshire.
    One day he opened a letter saying there was a need for chaplains to volunteer for parachute training.
    Feeling young and fit enough for the challenge, he volunteered and was accepted, learning to drop from first an air balloon and then a plane.
    Once he had gained his wings, McLuskey was asked to report to an organisation he had never heard of – the Special Air Service, or SAS, then just two years old.
    The unit was being prepared for a role in the imminent invasion of France.
    McLuskey was appointed as chaplain to the 1st SAS Regiment, whose commanding officer was the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Blair 'Paddy' Mayne, already decorated with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Bar for his courage in North Africa and Sicily (two further DSOs followed for gallantry later in the war)."
    The parachuting padre by LORD ASHCROFT

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