The sinking of the Dorchester in the icy waters off Greenland shortly after midnight on February 3, 1942, was one of the worst sea disasters of World War II. It was also the occasion of an astounding feat of heroism—and faith.
As water gushed through a hole made by a German torpedo, four chaplains—members of different faiths but linked by bonds of friendship and devotion—moved quietly among the men onboard. Preaching bravery, the chaplains distributed life jackets, including their own. In the end, these four men went down with the ship, their arms linked in spiritual solidarity, their voices raised in prayer. In this spellbinding narrative, award-winning author and journalist Dan Kurzman tells the story of these heroes and the faith—in God and in country—that they shared.
They were about as different as four American clergymen could be. George Lansing Fox (Methodist), wounded and decorated in World War I, loved his family and his Vermont congregation—yet he re-enlisted as soon as he heard about Pearl Harbor. Rabbi Alex Goode was an athlete, an intellectual, and an adoring new father—yet he too knew, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, that he would serve. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), the son a famous radio evangelist, left for war begging his father to pray that he would never be a coward. Father John Washington (Catholic), a scrappy Irish street fighter, had dedicated himself to the church after a childhood brush with death. Chance brought the chaplains together at a Massachusetts training camp, but each was convinced that God had a reason for placing them together aboard the Dorchester .
Drawing on extensive interviews with the chaplains’ families and the crews of both the Dorchester and the German submarine that fired the fatal torpedo, Kurzman re-creates the intimate circumstances and great historic events that culminated in that terrible night. The final hours unfold with the electrifying clarity of nightmare—the chaplains taking charge of the dwindling supply of life jackets, the panic of the crew, the overcrowded lifeboats, the prayers that ring out over the chaos, and the tight circle that the four chaplains form as the inevitable draws near.
In No Greater Glory , Dan Kurzman tells how four extraordinary men left their mark on a single night of war—and forever changed the lives of those they saved. Riveting and inspiring, this is a true story of heroism, of goodness in the face of disaster, and of faith that transfigures even the horror of war.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: No Greater Glory|
|Release Date: 05-11-2004|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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No Greater Glory
The Suicide Ship
“Sergeant Warish! Sergeant Warish! Wake up!”
First Sergeant Michael Warish did not respond to the pleas of the shadowy figure hovering over his ravaged body, which, shortly before dawn on February 4, 1943, lay crumpled on a stretcher spread on the snow-blanketed dock in Narsarssuak, a port town near the southern tip of Greenland. He had just been carried from the Coast Guard cutter Comanche, together with scores of other wounded and dying men who were awaiting an ambulance from a nearby hospital.
They had been pulled out of the freezing waters of the North Atlantic about one hundred miles south of Greenland after a German U-boat torpedoed the USAT Dorchester, a troop carrier crammed with nine hundred men, most of whom died aboard the ship when it went down or froze to death in the icy currents. The sinking was one of the worst sea disasters in World War II.
Finally, the figure crouching over Michael shook him by the shoulders and saw his eyelids flutter, then open slightly. Michael glimpsed the dark form of someone etched against the slightly lighter sky.
“Where am I?” he muttered.
“Greenland,” replied the fuzzy image. “How ya doin’?”
Michael didn’t recognize the commander of the United States Army unit he was returning to after a leave at home. Greenland? Was that another name for heaven? Was he alive? Michael wasn’t sure. He couldn’t even remember his name, who he was. But he vaguely recalled stepping off the sinking ship into a black, foaming, ice-strewn infinity. Then the agonized cry that had resonated in the night and