The Prisoner of War (POW) diaries of an Anglican chaplain who died in Falmouth on Christmas Day 1918, have been published on the centenary anniversary of his capture in France.

Reverend Benjamin O’Rorke now lies in a neglected corner of Swanvale Cemetery, but his legacy lives on in the form of a new book: Padre, Prisoner and Pen-pusher: The World War One Experiences of the Reverend Benjamin O’Rorke.

Edited by Reverend Peter Howson, who has just retired after 40 years’ service as a Methodist Minister, the gripping read has been published by one of the world’s leading publishers and sellers of military history books, Helion & Company Ltd. It tells of the Padre’s sacrifice on the battlefields of France in the summer of August 1914.

“O’Rorke was one of two Padres captured by the Germans in the withdrawal of the British Army after the Battle of Mons,” says Dr Howson. “They had stayed with groups of the wounded and found themselves taken prisoner rather than immediately returned to their own side.

‘He wrote In the Hands of the Enemy - one of the first books to describe the experiences of those who became POWs - after being repatriated back to England in July 1915.”

A regular army chaplain with service dating back to the Boer War, O’Rorke and his family were living in Bordon, where he was the garrison chaplain, at the outbreak of the war. Mobilised with 4 Field Ambulance (based at nearby Aldershot), he went with them to France, where he was captured in August 2014.

He returned to France a second time to serve as a frontline chaplain, before being posted back to the UK in June 1918 to continue to his service in Falmouth. He tragically died of flu on 25 December – just six weeks after the Armistice. He had kept a diary in France, which came up for sale 10 years ago and forms the basis of Padre, Prisoner and Pen-pusher.

“The diary is that of someone ‘behind the lines’,” said Dr Howson. “I am immensely proud to have brought it into the public consciousness.”

“This book will appeal to all who are interested in how a regular army chaplain coped with mobilisation; life as a prisoner of war; and then of the ever-lengthening war itself,” adds Duncan Rogers, Owner of Helion & Company Ltd.

“Readers will also find of interest Dr Howson’s first book published by Helion, Muddling Through: The Organisation of British army Chaplaincy in World War One. This helps to explain the context in which Ben O’Rorke carried out his work as a chaplain in France alongside other Anglicans, Catholics, Presbyterians and the Free Church, together with Jewish chaplains.

‘We are indebted to Peter for his scholarly research into the remarkable contribution of Anglican chaplains to the Great War.”