In this free interactive lesson, you will learn more about the four chaplains of the USS Dorchester whose sacrifice inspired a nation. On February 3, 1943, German U-Boot U-233 fired a torpedo at the USS Dorchester, sinking her. She was carrying 904 souls, including four brave chaplains who gave their lives to save the men. After the initial explosion, men fought their way through the smoke, wreckage and freezing water to get to the deck where many stood in their underwear, having lost their clothing and life vests below. The chaplains took charge, giving orders and encouraging the men in order to keep them calm and get them off the ship as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the ship listed severely as it sank, preventing most of the life boats from ever being released. Only two made it into the water. The life rafts began capsizing with the weight of so many men clambering aboard. So many life vests had been lost, there were not nearly enough to go around. As the chaplains worked to get the men safely off the ship, they took off their own vests to give to servicemen, choosing to go down with the ship so that others could be saved.
Congress named February 3 Four Chaplains Day in their honor.
In this interactive unit, your student will learn about these four brave men in the context of World War II. Topics covered include:
- How the US Navy’s refusal to listen to the British lost over 400 American merchant ships
- How the German U-Boot almost won the war for Germany
- Why all US ships were brought under the authority of the War Shipping Administration
- The History of the SS Dorchester
- How calm weather contributed the loss of life on the SS Dorchester
- and, of course, The lives and characters of the four heroic chaplains
Best of all, everything is contained right here in this lesson presentation. It even has a quiz and will give you a score at the end.