The role of a padre serving with the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department (RAChD) is to minister to soldiers and their families, to give them pastoral, spiritual and moral support. The padres are commissioned as chaplains but wear officers’ rank, leaders but without command. They are sent wherever soldiers are sent, and are moved individually between units every two to three years.
The Reverend Alan Steele MBE is in his early fifties and is the senior padre of 16 Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester. The interview is in his book-lined Army quarter where his two teenage children serve us tea and ginger biscuits.
Steele had his first tour of duty to Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (2 Para) in 2001/2002.
“No Afghan ruler will henceforth, unless he is prepared for an immediate rupture, either admit a Russian envoy into his capital, or repel an English Mission.” The brave words of the Saturday Review, 1879.
The bold statement was reprinted in the The Graphic, a magazine from London which that week, June 7, 1879, printed its first article referring to the ‘late Afghan War’. The two pieces that follow, the second on troopship bath-times, are as produced in the original edition of The Graphic.