December 21st, 2009

Military chaplains ca. 1951

I have a very picayune question, though potentially important:

How much freedom of movement would a military chaplain have had in a British division in the Korean war? Would an officer in the division have the power to say to him, "You're going to X company," and would he then have to stay there? Or would that be decided by someone with rank over both of them? If no one with superior rank had given an express order, would he have some liberty to travel from one division to another (wherever need is greatest, that kind of thing)?

Another way of framing the question is, what would be the chain of command directing a chaplain's movements, would he have any ability to decide himself about his comings and goings, and who ranks him. (Wikipedia says that the lowest rank of a British military chaplain is equivalent to a captaincy.)

American viewers will probably think of Father Mulcahy who was ALWAYS with the 4077th, but that might not have been realistic unless the chaplain was specifically assigned to that station and told to stay--some of them seem to have traveled around a lot in their own jeeps.

The character in question has got caught up in the Battle of the Imjin, and I have him as an itinerant pastor in a jeep. He ends up with the Northumberland Fusiliers through his own choice. Not with the Glosters, because in the first place the bravery of the Glosters' Rev. Davies was such that I don't want to take anything away from that, and in the second place it appears that past a certain point it was impossible to escape being taken prisoner by the Chinese if you were with the Glosters (though the jury is still out as to whether the pastor could have visited the Glosters at some point--which would again require being able to leave). But the Fusiliers was a dangerous enough assignment. I intended to have the pastor's witnessing the (very bloody) Imjin fighting be something of an accident of fate, because his jeep got fried in a minor collision outside Uijeongbu.

Thanks in advance. (I have "To the Last Round" by Andrew Salmon and it is a magnificent resource for anything to do with the Battle of the Imjin, but these questions are outside its scope.)

Effects of 19th century absinthe

Setting: London, England 1896

I have a character in a story I'm working on who is a heavy absinthe drinker. I've done some research on the effects of absinthe back then, and I'm coming up with some mixed answers. What I know is:

-Absinthe manufactured today is not hallucinogenic.
-Thujone, an ingredient in pre-ban absinthe, was not actually a hallucinogen, and some think that the people who said it made them hallucinate in the 19th century were making it up.
-There is a theory that it might have been the green dye put into absinthe that made people hallucinate, so the thujone had nothing to do with it. I can find very little information on this idea, though, so I'm not sure how sturdy it is.

So, the information I've found is a little unclear. Every account I've seen on being drunk on absinthe is modern and so the formula is obviously not the same. I'd like to know if anyone has ever seen any reliable 19th century accounts of being drunk on absinthe, if you know anything about its production, its effects, any info at all on the 19th century formula, I'd love to hear it.

The hallucinogenic effects are the most important. Right now, I have my character hallucinating. If there's no way he could be doing so simply by drinking the stuff, I'd like to know. Thank you so much!

Search terms used: absinthe, absinthe hallucinations, Victorian absinthe, 19th century absinthe, thujone in absinthe, green dye in absinthe