You could be forgiven if, like me, you’ve watched war movies over the past fifty years and got the impression that square-jawed, bullet-proof commandos were the only heroes on the battle front. Padres? Well, they were inoffensive chaps who kept well back from the action.
Michael Gladwin’s book ‘Captains of the Soul’ blows that myth to smithereens. His extensive research declares that the weapon-less chaplains were, more often than not, men admired by the troops for their calibre and courage.
Photographer George Silk remarked on the toughness of the padres. Of this photograph of a Catholic chaplain conducting mass prior to battle, he wrote, “You could almost see God Himself in the jungle.”
Digest this astonishing story Gladwin tells of a chaplain putting his life on the line to bury a young Digger.
Jesus shook the accepted cultural prejudice of his people with his story of road-side kindness. The hero who stopped to help the victim of gang-violence was a man from neighbouring Samaria that his listeners considered a total outsider. Jesus was offering an open challenge to the strict orthodoxy of his audience. He knew they would never have dreamed of putting the words ‘good’ and ‘Samaritan’ together. The tale of this anonymous rescuer was so impactful, it has fixed the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ permanently in the English language as a term that speaks of surprising, unexpected generosity.
A few years ago, the southern NSW country town of Gundagai enshrined a muscular version of a similar story in their town centre. The striking bronze memorial celebrates Yarri and Jacky Jacky, two tribesmen from the local Wiradjuri people, who ferried an astonishing 69 people to safety when the town was swept away by a raging Murrumbidgee River in 1859. They were assisted by other Aboriginal people, including Long Jimmy and Tommy Davis.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.