Soldiers of a Different Cloth
Notre Dame Chaplains in World War II
- Catholic Press Association Book Award: History, Second Place
In Soldiers of a Different Cloth, New York Times best-selling author and military historian John Wukovits tells the inspiring story of thirty-five chaplains and missionaries who, while garnering little acclaim, performed extraordinary feats of courage and persistence during World War II. Ranging in age from twenty-two to fifty-three, these University of Notre Dame priests and nuns were counselor, friend, parent, and older sibling to the young soldiers they served. These chaplains experienced the horrors of the Death March in the Philippines and the filthy holds of the infamous Hell Ships. They dangled from a parachute while descending toward German fire at Normandy and shivered in Belgium’s frigid snows during the Battle of the Bulge. They languished in German and Japanese prison camps, and stood speechless at Dachau.
Based on a vast collection of letters, papers, records, and photographs in the archives of the University of Notre Dame, as well as other contemporary sources, Wukovits brings to life these nearly forgotten heroes who served wherever duty sent them and wherever the war dictated. Wukovits intertwines their stories on the battlefronts with their memories of Notre Dame. In their letters to their superior in South Bend, Indiana, they often asked about campus, the Grotto, and the football team. Their love for Notre Dame helped buttress them during their wartime tribulations, and their return to campus was akin to a warm homecoming. Soldiers of a Different Cloth will fascinate and engage all readers interested in the history of World War II and alumni, friends, and fans of the Fighting Irish.
"The stories of these heroic members of the Holy Cross order have never been told before. John Wukovits dug deeply into the Notre Dame archives and elsewhere to bring them to light. He does it adroitly, with a historian’s care and a writer’s heart. We are in his debt." —Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., from the foreword
"John Wukovits’s professional background in World War II history—over a thirty-year career he has authored ten books and served as on-air commentator and adviser for television documentaries—as well as his own association with the university as a 1967 graduate, lend credence to his research and writing. His knowledge of World War II history, combined with his ties to the university, make him ideal to tell this story of men who comprised one of Notre Dame’s greatest teams." —Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., from the introduction
"As Father Joe Barry, C.S.C., said at the end of the War, ‘I believe that I have seen my share of blood, death, mud, hunger and cold.’ On the front lines, in ships under attack, in prisoner-of-war camps, in medical care facilities, these stalwart men and women brought a devoted ministry of sacramental participation, counsel, and care for the grieving. Their collective story has now been told by John Wukovits with full appreciation for the dedication, courage and deep commitment that it entailed." —Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame
"This riveting account of the heroic contributions of 35 chaplains and missionaries during World War II is nearly impossible to put down. The author, John F. Wukovits, is a renowned military historian who melds rigorous research with expert storytelling. The result is an inspiring and richly detailed narrative that reveals the challenges that these religious—priests along with some brothers and sisters of Notre Dame's Congregation of Holy Cross—faced." —The Boston Pilot
"This is a story that is untold and yet so important and appealing to all who believe whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or agnostic. It should be read by anyone who wishes to know more about individual sacrifice, bravery, and suffering sustained by individuals during wartime for love of their fellow brothers." —Robert LeClercq, volunteer, National Museum of the Pacific War
"Soldiers of a Different Cloth: Notre Dame Chaplains in World War II is excellent, and in fact a real page turner. I did not expect to enjoy so thoroughly this substantial book about a select number of priests serving during World War II. The book relies on an impressive array of primary sources to convey a compelling story of the Notre Dame priests who served during World War II." —Lyle Dorsett, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
"John Wukovits shines light on a previously little-known aspect of World War II: the vital role that chaplains—especially those from Notre Dame—played in providing spiritual comfort during times of great stress, and in aiding the sick, wounded, and others 'at the hour of their deaths.' For a long time medics have been regarded as 'unsung heroes' on the battlefield; to that short list can now be added chaplains. This superbly written work will do much to open peoples' eyes to these often-overlooked brave and selfless men." —Flint Whitlock, author and editor of WWII Quarterly magazine
“Wukovits’s book is a harrowing account of men and women who strove to remain spiritual leaders as the world appeared dead-set in destroying itself.” —American Catholic Studies
"Wukovits, a prolific author and historian of the Second World War, is also a second-generation Notre Dame graduate, and in this engaging work, he tells the stories of nearly three dozen chaplains (having deep connections to South Bend themselves) who left Indiana to serve on foreign fields. . . . Thoroughly researched, clearly written, and often emotionally moving, Soldiers of a Different Cloth will be a must read for professional and 'lay' historians of war, religion, and the intersection thereof." —H-War