Chaplain G.A. Studdert Kennedy has been described as the most popular British chaplain of the First World War. Widely known as "Woodbine Willie" for the cigarettes he distributed to the troops, his wartime poetry and prose communicated the challenges, hardships and hopes of the soldiers he served. As a chaplain, he was subject to the same hardships as his soldiers. This book analyses his experiences through the contemporary understanding of psychological, moral and spiritual impact of war on its survivors and suggests that the chaplain suffered from Combat Stress, Moral Injury, and Spiritual Injury. Through the analysis of his wartime and postwar publications, the author illustrates the continuing impact of war on the life of a veteran of the Great War.
Dayne Edward Nix is professor at the US Naval War College.
Introduction: My Personal Introduction to Chaplain G.A. Studdert Kennedy
Chapter 1: Who Was Chaplain G.A. Studdert Kennedy
Chapter 2: Chaplains, the Military and The Invisible Wounds of War
Chapter 3: Environmental Stresses; Physical, Cognitive, Social, Traumatic and Spiritual
Chapter 4: Spiritual Injury: Disappointment with God
Chapter 5: Moral Injury: The Chaplain and War
Chapter 6: Moral Injury: “Fed-Up,” Disillusionment and Unmet Post-War Expectations
Chapter 7: Purification: Acknowledgement, Confession and Penance
Chapter 8: Recovery and Post-Traumatic Growth: Studdert Kennedy’s Campaign against War and Poverty, 1922-1929
Chapter 9: A Survey of G.A. Studdert Kennedy’s Works, 1917-1929
About the Author
The past decade has witnessed a plethora of books, journal articles, and chapters about G.A. Studdert Kennedy—“Woodbine Willie”—almost certainly the most famous of Britain’s army chaplains in World War One. They have generally fallen into conventional academic categories such as history and theology. However, two characteristics distinguish this book from those which have gone before: First it is written by a former chaplain, who served in that role for 23 years and who brings that experience to bear on his discussion of Studdert Kennedy’s war-time service. Second, he uses the insights of contemporary academic study of warfare and chaplaincy to interrogate the well-worn narratives of his life, considering such issues as PTSD, moral injury, and resilience. His examination of Studdert Kennedy’s post-war writing and activities also goes beyond earlier work by others. As such, this book makes a valuable contribution to the literature.
Nix’s text should be required reading for anyone considering chaplaincy. Today, it is vital for military chaplains to continue the arduous task of processing combat trauma— both for military servicemembers and chaplains. Nix emphasizes this point in that “at some point in their personal journey, chaplains must address questions regarding peace and war and their place in the military . . . ” (p. 66). Nix is able to hold the nuance of chaplaincy and name the moments of post-traumatic growth that are possible on the other side of trauma. Broadening the scope beyond chaplains, this text should also be required reading for those pastors and religious leaders deciphering how to welcome veterans back into religious communities after military service.
In this powerful and insightful study, Nix provides readers wisdom and remembrance regarding the trauma and tragedy of war that has been experienced by countless combatants and noncombatants through the centuries. Through his in-depth study of First World War British chaplain G. A. Studdert Kennedy. In so doing, he writes of the spiritual, moral, psychological, and physical traumas experienced by warriors and their loved ones. The wounds of war, seen and unseen, forever change people in ways otherwise unthinkable and do with lasting and generational effects. For any person desiring to understand not only the horrors of the First World War and twentieth-century warfare, but also those of warfare of our own century, this book is essential reading.
Through a vivid and unflinching portrait of a man who wrestled earnestly with his Christian faith, empathy, and very sense of humanity in the first world war and its aftermath, Dayne Nix presents a timely warning to clergy, politicians and citizens who speak casually of the necessity, virtuosity, or moral justifications for war. Identifying key markers of moral injury in the life and reflections of Studdart Kennedy, Nix illuminates the profound strength Kennedy ultimately drew from his mature faith and lifts up his prophetic critique of lukewarm, acquiescent, and ineffective theologies of the church. Two decades into the ‘Global War on Terror,’ as its veterans continue to bear the moral and spiritual wounds of combat, this compelling portrait of Kennedy and a struggle to maintain faith, identity, and meaning in a war-weary world couldn’t be more necessary or consequential.
It will make a significant contribution to the subject as it examines the career and written output of Studdert Kennedy in the light of modern research on the many faceted aspects of post-traumatic influence on the wellbeing and development of the veteran. The book will have a wide audience for scholars in the fields of military and religious history as well as those studying the history and development in the field of moral injury and treatment of PTSD. It has an originality and freshness of approach which would appeal to audiences who have not read of Studdert Kennedy before, but also those who have read much on the subject. The book links G.A. Studdert Kennedy’s career with modern research on moral injury, using a wealth of material from Studdert Kennedy’ poems and books to illustrate how his subject reacted to the strains of war. Places the work of Studdert Kennedy firmly in a modern day context and is an original and fascinating treatment of an aspect of Studdert Kennedy’s ministry and also the historical and ongoing work of military chaplains.
Moral Injury and a First World War Chaplain is delightful and informative reading of interest to war historians, chaplains and others supporting those with unseen wounds. It’s most important conclusion is the need for caregivers to receive care themselves.
[There] are real insights here, and genuine contributions to scholarship. As with the biography by Parker, Nix has made fine use of search facilities for digitised newspapers to uncover reports of Studdert Kennedy’s public addresses, and not the least of his discoveries is a series of pieces that Studdert Kennedy wrote for the magazine John Bull in the last years of his life (outlined here on pages 189–98); accordingly, Nix’s knowledge of Studdert Kennedy’s corpus is deep and extensive. Mapping Studdert Kennedy’s ministry in terms of combat stress also yields its illuminations, such as the suggestion that Studdert Kennedy’s frenetic activity of the 1920s was a kind of penance for his early endorsement of hostilities (107; cf. 119), or even an expression of guilt at having survived (151). [This] is a book to be welcomed and engaged with by all who wish to explore further a figure of the Anglican calendar who continues to fascinate and inspire.