Steven T. Collis
The Immortals: A WWII Story of Four Heroic Chaplains, the Sinking of the SS Dorchester, and an Awe-Inspiring Rescueby: Steven T. Collis
During World War II, on January 29, 1943, the SS Dorchester and a small convoy sailed the perilous route from Newfoundland to the Army Command Base in Greenland. Four chaplains were assigned to the Dorchester with more than 900 men on board. Alexander Goode, a Jewish rabbi; John Washington, a Catholic priest; George Fox, a Methodist minister; and Clark Poling, a Baptist minister, all offered comfort, reassurances, and prayers with a warning from the captain that a German submarine was hunting their convoy. The Nazi U-boat captain, Karl-Jurg Wachter, had been stalking the Americans for days. When bad weather separated the Dorchester from the other convoy ships, Wachter was finally in a position to strike.
Just past midnight, on February 3, just hours from their destination, the Dorchester was torpedoed and sank, throwing its passengers into the frigid waters and creating the worst single loss of an American personnel convoy during WWII. Many of the survivors credit the four chaplains with saving their lives. Those chaplains would become known as “The Immortals” for their heroism in making the ultimate sacrifice. With no thought of themselves, they calmly helped men to safety through the chaos of their badly damaged ship, searched for spare life jackets for those without—eventually giving away their own life jackets and encouraging men in the freezing waters.
The celebrated story of the Immortals is now joined for the first time in print by the largely untold story of another hero of the sinking of the Dorchester: Charles Walter Davis Jr. was a young Black petty officer aboard a Coast Guard cutter traveling with the convoy who bravely dived into the glacial water over and over again, even with hypothermia setting in, to try to rescue the men the chaplains had first helped and inspired to never give up.
Thoroughly researched and told in an engrossing non-fiction narrative, the book alternates between accounts told from the perspective of the Nazi U-boat captain and his crew, and the hunted—the men of the American convoy. Using his expertise as an attorney specializing in religious freedom and constitutional law, the author, Steven T. Collis, also paints a thought-provoking portrait of religious life in America during wartime and how American views of faith affected the chaplains and the men they served.
Page-turning and inspiring, The Immortals explores the power of faith and religious conviction and powerfully narrates the lives of five heroic men who believed in something greater than themselves, living lives of service and sacrifice for their country and their fellow man.
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publish Date: May 11, 2021
Page Count: 256