Royal Army Chaplains' Department

Royal Army Chaplains' Department

Cap Badge of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department; for Jewish padres the Maltese Cross is replaced by a Star of David
Active 23 September 1796 - present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Role Chaplaincy
Motto(s) "In this Sign Conquer"
March Prince of Denmark's March (Trumpet Voluntary)
Chaplain General The Revd David Coulter

The Royal Army Chaplains' Department (RAChD) is an all-officer corps that provides ordained clergy to minister to the British Army.


A post 1953 RAChD No.1 dress cap

The Army Chaplains' Department (AChD) was formed by Royal Warrant of 23 September 1796.[1] Previously chaplains had been part of individual regiments, but not on the central establishment. Only Anglican chaplains were recruited until 1827, when Presbyterians were recognised. Roman Catholic chaplains were recruited from 1836, Methodist chaplains from 1881, and Jewish chaplains from 1892.[2] During the First World War some 4,400 Army Chaplains were recruited and 179 lost their lives on active service.[2] The Department received the "Royal" prefix in February 1919.[2] During the Second World War another 96 British and 38 Commonwealth Army Chaplains lost their lives.[2]

From 1946 until 1996, the RAChD's Headquarters, Depot and Training Centre were at Bagshot Park in Surrey, now the home of The Earl and Countess of Wessex.[3] In 1996, they moved to the joint service Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House near Andover.[4]


There are about 150 serving regular chaplains (commonly known as "padres") in the British Army; these can belong to one of several Christian denominations, or to the Jewish faith, although currently all active chaplains are Christian.[5] Uniquely within the British Army, the Royal Army Chaplains' Department has different cap badges for its Christian and Jewish officers.[6]

Army chaplains, although they are all commissioned officers of the British Army and wear uniform, do not have executive authority. They are unique within the British Army in that they do not carry arms. At services on formal occasions, chaplains wear their medals and decorations on their clerical robes (many chaplains have been decorated for bravery in action, including three Victoria Crosses: James Adams, Noel Mellish and William Addison).[7]

The RAChD's motto is "In this Sign Conquer" as seen in the sky before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge by the Roman Emperor Constantine. Its regimental march, both quick and slow, is the Prince of Denmark's March, erroneously known as the Trumpet Voluntary.[8]


The Museum of Army Chaplaincy is located at Amport House near Andover, Hampshire.[9]

Representative denominations in the RAChD

Chaplains are either classified as Jewish (currently only in the Territorial Army) or as a member of one of the following seven Christian denominational groups:

However, an Army chaplain is expected to minister to and provide pastoral care to any soldier who needs it, no matter their denomination or faith or lack of it.[10]


The insignia of a Chaplain to the Forces 3rd Class.

Chaplains are the only British Army officers who do not carry standard officer ranks. They are officially designated Chaplain to the Forces (CF) (e.g. "The Reverend John Smith CF"). They do, however, have grades which equate to the standard ranks and wear the insignia of the equivalent rank. Chaplains are usually addressed as "Padre" /ˈpɑːdr/, never by their nominal military rank.

The senior Church of England Chaplain is ranked within the church hierarchy as an Archdeacon – he or she holds the appointment of Archdeacon for the Army whether or not he or she is also the Chaplain-General. The Senior Roman Catholic Chaplain (usually a CF1) is sometimes ranked as a monsignor.[11]

List of Chaplains General

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Special Reconnaissance Regiment
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Logistic Corps

Some notable Army chaplains

See also


  1. Museum of Army Chaplaincy webpage. British Army official website.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "History of Army Chaplains". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  3. "Bagshot Park". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  4. "Army Forces Chaplaincy Centre". Defence Academy. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  5. "Army chaplains". BBC. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  6. "Military Cap Badge Royal Army Chaplains Department (Jewish)". Intriguing history. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  7. "Padre VC Holders". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  8. "Marches of the British Forces". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  9. "Museum of Army Chaplaincy". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  10. "Royal Army Chaplains' Department". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  11. "The gave their today". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  12. The London Gazette: no. 13938. p. 945. 4 October 1796. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  13. The London Gazette: no. 16348. p. 335. 6 March 1810. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 18044. p. 1155. 13 July 1824. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 20620. p. 2500. 7 July 1846. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 24199. p. 2081. 13 April 1875. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 25442. p. 677. 17 February 1885. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 27379. p. 7653. 22 November 1901. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  19. The London Gazette: no. 33048. p. 3374. 19 May 1925. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  20. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34010. p. 3. 29 December 1933. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  21. 1 2 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36791. p. 5189. 10 November 1944. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  22. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39375. p. 5772. 9 November 1951. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  23. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42088. p. 4811. 8 July 1960. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  24. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43898. p. 1755. 11 February 1966. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  25. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46349. p. 7900. 24 September 1974. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  26. 1 2 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50799. p. 450. 12 January 1987. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  27. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53946. p. 1747. 6 February 1995. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  28. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 55854. p. 5644. 23 May 2000. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  29. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59866. p. 14713. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2012.

Further reading

" 'Evans Above".....The Auto Biography of THE REV WALTER EVANS.CF. I do not have the "LIBRARY" detail....He served PADRE to 22 Regt S A S. EVANS...The Rev WALTER C.F. His Auto Biography...."'Evens Above". He was too.....CHAPLAIN....THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA.

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