- Alan Alexander Buchanan was born on 28 february 1905 in Fintona,
Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1931 he was
ordained. Buchanan was with the Church of Ireland Mission in Belfast
until 1937 after which he held incumbencies at St Cedma Inver and St
Mary, Belfast and St Comgall, Bangor.
- On 2 january 1942 Buchanan was commissioned as Royal Army Chaplain
and on 18 august 1943 he joined the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire
Regiment. He served with them in Sicily where he was taken prisoner by
Italians. The authors of By Land, Sea and Air wrote about this one page
44: "The Italian officer spoke very good English and told them
they were POWs. However, Buchanan suggested that it would be more
sensible for the Italians to surrender as they were surrounded by
British troops, which had landed all over the island. The Italian
officer talked it over with his men and agreed to surrender, provided
that they would nog be harmed. After disarming the Italians, the party
left to find their obective. Buchanan had no idea where to go and after
walking for some time came under fire from some British troops who fired
a few rounds at the group; probably because they thought that they were
a party of Italian soldiers with British prisoners, given the ratio of
Italian to British troops. Buchanan managed to warn them and stop
firing, letting them know that they were actually British troops with
- On 17 september 1944 Buchanan landed with the first units of his
battalion, the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, on
Landingzone-S, at Reijerskamp near Wolfheze
- Buchanan attached himself to B Company and went on a long night
march with them to Arnhem's western outskirts. During the march they
suffered repeated attacks resulting in minor skirmishes. Time and again
Buchanan entered the line of fire to help the wounded and the
- On 19 september Buchanan and Captain Brian
Brownscombe, the battalion Medical Officer, set up a Regimental Aid
Post (RAP) in the cellars of Arnhem's municipal museum. As well as
tending some 20 wounded, Buchanan took part in the actual fighting. He
ordered No 7 Platoon A Company to occupy the house directly opposite the
museum; and when the Germans threatened to take over the museum's
eastern side, he managed to warn the troops who had gathered in a narrow
gully west of the museum to withdraw.
- On 20 september he left the wounded in the care of a medical
orderly and tried to make contact with Captain Brownscombe, whom he
wanted to help in dealing with the heavy number of casualties. Buchanan
wrote about this in a letter to Major Cain in 1945: "When I met
the CO and you later that morning, I had left twenty wounded in the
front house (Museum) in charge of a medical orderly. I felt it was my
job to stick by the Battalion at all costs until the battle was decided.
But when I got back to the next house there were still men wounded.
'Basher' Brownscombe was with them, but he was dressing one of them and,
as the rest seemed rather defenceless, I stayed on with them and was
captured a few minutes later. I always felt since that I should have
stuck to the first decision and left the wounded in charge of the
medical orderlies. If I had been with you throughout the week at
Oosterbeek I would have been much happier. I intended to try to evacuate
the twenty wounded from the first house, but I saw a steady barrage from
mortars and tanks outside, while they were comparatively safe inside. So
I thought that the fairest thing to them was to leave them were they
were." (By Land, Sea and Air. Page 118)
- While Buchanan was working the make-shift RAP fell into enemy
hands. Buchanan stayed with the wounded and was soon captured and taken
to the railway station some 500 yards east of the museum. He was allowed
to return to St Elizabeth Hospital, which at that time lay firmly in
German hands. Until 27 september he was able to visit the wounded in St
Elizabeth's and the Municipal Hospital some way further north.
Afterwards he was taken to Apeldoorn and ended up at the King William
III barracks. After 26 October he worked at the St Joseph's Foundation,
a psychiatric hospital at Apeldoorn.
On 13 april 1945 Buchanan was taken to Heemstede. Here the head of the
German medical services in Holland used his services when discussing
with the Canadians the position of the German sick and wounded after the
- After the liberation, Buchanan resumed his pot as Rector of St.
Mary's, Belfast. In 1945 he visited the former battlefields and was
involved in the creation of Oosterbeek's Military Cemetery.
- On 20 september 1945 Buchanan was awarded a Mentioned in Despatches
for his actions in Arnhem.
- Buchanan was Bishop of Clogher from 1958 to 1969 when he became
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland. In 1977 failing health
forced him to step down.
- Buchanan died in Castleknock, Ireland. He is buried in Donacavey