The Clergy who served with the Troops Pt 1

Posted on 8th Nov 2021

In the World War on at Home feature produced by Radio Cumbria in 2018 , Local Historian Joe Ritson refers to the role played the clergy of the respective local Churches during the course of the great war .

Cleator Moor man Pat OKane has shared  with us his research  on the 8 priests  who having served at St Marys RC Church Cleator went onto enlist as  military chaplains during the War , some being decorated for their courage and  outstanding service .

Pats research shows that during WW1  860  Catholic priests served as Chaplains ,36 of them making the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their sevice to the troops .

The Chaplains   would enter active duty as first lieutenants and were  then quickly promoted to the grade of captainand so on . Chaplains are regarded  non-combatants: they do not have the right to participate directly in hostilities.

Pat says that "The support and dedication given to the woulded and dying throughout the conflict by the Catholic priests won the repect and adniration of  their comardes of all denominations "

Pat O'Kanes  research found that 8 Benedictine clergy who served as curates at Cleator went to enlist as Military Chaplains . They were 


Dom Francis Alphonsus  Webb OSB  see photo

Served as Assistant priest at Cleator pre- war and enlisted from Aug 1915 to March 1918 . After  the War he was Parish priest at St Josephs Frizington and is buried at St Marys  

Dom James Maurus Kelly  OSB  MC 

He was assistant priest at Cleator up to the early 1900s , He enlisted in 1914 and served until the end of the war . During that time he was awarded th Military Cross and bar in recognition of his outstanding service .

Dom Aidan Coyle OSB 

Aidan Coyle enlisted  before working in a parish , serving from  1917 until the end of 1919 . He was mentioned in despatches for conspicuous bravery and was promoted to  Senior Chapilain and given the Rank of Major . After the army he came to Cleator as assistant priest in 1919 and  was later Parish Priest at Frizington 

Dom Edward Dominic Fennell OSB 

Was assistant priest at Cleator before and after the war . He served as a Chaplain from 1918 to 1919

Dom Bernard Dunstan Collingwood OSB

He was assistant priest at Cleator from1902 to 1906 . Was a Chaplain from 1916 to Oct 1919 . He died in 1960 and is buried in the  Grotto at Cleator 

Fr Arthur Anthony Jordan 

Assistant Priest at Cleator 1908 to 1911  Seved as a chaplainin the latter years of the War 

Dom William Bernard Buggins  OSB

Served as Chaplain from March 1916 to  March 1919

Dom Francis John O'Shaughnessy OSB

He was assistant priest at Cleator from 1916 after serving as a Chaplain from November 1914  to December 1915 

In our next part of this feature we will focus on the legendary Vicar from St Leonards Cleator ,  Rev Ceasar Caine 

The Clergy who served with the Troops Pt 1