Tag: World War Two

Love in Action: The Four Chaplains

 

four chaplains stampOn the bitter cold morning of February 3, 1943,  the passenger ship, S.S. Dorchester, was steaming in convoy nearing the frozen coast of Greenland. The 902 souls aboard depended on convoy procedure and three small Coast Guard cutters to protect them from the ravening wolf packs of U-boats, still dominating the North Atlantic. The servicemen, merchant seamen, and civilian workers were destined for a critical support base in Greenland, so were only 150 miles from safe harbor. It was then, in the pre-dawn darkness, that a torpedo slammed into the hull, deep below the waterline.

A diligent sonar operator on a sister ship, the Tampa, had alerted the convoy of suspicious sonar contact. Dorchester’s civilian captain had ordered everyone into life vests, but too many of the young men failed to act, lacking effective unit leadership. The U-boat surfaced and fired a spread of three torpedoes, one of which struck home with devastating effect. We know of this from post-war records from the U-boat command. The ship, an old coastal steamer, was going down rapidly. The ship’s radio was knocked out, but one cutter saw the blast and came charging to the rescue with another, while the third shepherded the rest of the convoy to safe harbor.

The convoy had been short enough, or the civilian captain insufficiently steeped in the need for military emergency drills, that the crew and passengers were stumbling and panicky in their response. Life vests still needed to be handed out, and the limited lifeboats needed to be successfully lowered and filled. Into the chaos stepped four men, not one of them a combat officer. Indeed, they were all four junior Army chaplains, holding the military rank of lieutenant: Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. The four men must have berthed together, as they suddenly acted as a unit.

Hmmm, This Looks Familiar

 

In a post awhile ago, I shared some of the YouTube military history channels I follow. One of these, The Great War, ended, kind of, with the hundredth anniversary of the Versailles Treaty. Now the host of that channel, a Texas ex-pat named Indy Neidell, has started a new project called World War Two. This has basically the same format as the first, with a recap, week by week, of important events 80 years ago. Here’s the first one:

Seventy-six years ago, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America went to war. Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover senior fellow and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, discusses lessons learned from that conflict’s successes and failures and how they apply today.