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LLOYD LANDSCOOT ON BOARD USAT DORCHESTER

What happen to LLoyd F. Landscoot crew member on board the "USAT DORCHESTER (US Army Transport)"?

Loyd Landscoot, ND document has been reviewed
Loyd Landscoot, ND Purple Heart
East Coast Memorial, Battery park,NY

USAT Dorchester Files

On January 23, 1943, the Dorchester left New York harbor with 904 people aboard. She headed north as part of a six-ship convoy en route to Newfoundland and Greenland. The ship carried 130 crewmen, 23 members of the Navy Armed Guard and 751 military personnel and others. After stopping to pick up supplies at St. Johns, Newfoundland, on January 27, the Dorchester returned to sea on January 29, accompanied by two other cargo ships and three Coast Guard cutters that formed their convoy.

The soldiers aboard did not know what the ship’s final destination was intended to be. Various rumors had her going to Ireland or Africa or Norway, or perhaps even to help defend England if Hitler invaded that island. But the four chaplains aboard the ship knew where the ship was going. Those four men -- George Fox (Methodist), Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Alex Goode (Jewish Rabbi) and John Washington (Catholic) – had spent only a few weeks together on the ship, but they were nearly always together. They knew that the Dorchester was sailing to the air base at Narssarssuaq, Greenland, the main base used to ferry planes to England. The chaplains felt it best to keep that information to themselves, and they spent many hours comforting nervous boys who realized the ship was sailing through the dangerous “submarine alley.”

On the evening of February 2, the tension on the ship eased somewhat as word spread that the Dorchester had broken away from her convoy, which was not an unusual maneuver when a ship was only hours away from port. They were almost there. Many men went to sleep that night without their life jackets because for the first time in days, they felt the ship was safe from attack.

“The navy escorted the Dorchester to Greenland,” and when the Dorchester broke away from the convoy, a destroyer was to go with her. But when she got near the coast, it was decided that there would be no submarines because it was fairly shallow, so the destroyer broke off and the Dorchester proceeded by herself.

Aboard the ship, the four chaplains presided over the evening’s successful entertainment program. The hour was late when the show ended, and they too headed for bed, feeling relief that the ship had made the dangerous journey safely. It was one a.m., February 3, 1943.

As they walked to their staterooms, beneath the frothing surface of the black Atlantic, a command was barked in German. In a heartbeat, German submarine U-223 unleashed a deadly torpedo toward the sleeping ship. “There was a loud boom,” the ship rose six feet out of the water, and then the lights went out.

The torpedo had struck the Dorchester’s starboard side, exploding in the engine room and killing 100 men below decks. In the frightening darkness, pandemonium erupted as men frantically groped for their life jackets, blindly scrambling to escape the bowels of the sinking ship.

On the deck above him, men struggled frantically to free lifeboats that were frozen in place, as the ship slowly continued to roll on its side. Those without life jackets crowded in fear around lockers where the four chaplains calmly handed out the precious extra jackets until they were gone. But there were not enough for everyone, and the ship was sinking fast.

While most men desperately attempted to save themselves from an icy death, the four chaplains, faced with men whimpering in fear as the ship descended into the cold Atlantic, did something that would stun everyone who witnessed it.

The four chaplains quickly moved among the bewildered men, calming them, directing them to life rafts, urging them to escape the doomed ship. Many had forgotten their life jackets. The chaplains located a supply in a deck locker and passed them out. When the bin was empty they pulled off their own and made others put them on.

Only two of the 14 lifeboats were successfully used in abandoning ship. Soldiers leaped into the icy sea. They clutched the gunwales of the two overloaded lifeboats, clung to doughnut-like rafts or floated alone. Some men were insulated by the thick fuel oil that coated them and floated in lifejackets for eight hours.

The four chaplains remained on the ship’s slanted aft deck, standing together, arms linked, heads bowed in prayer, as the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves. Their sacrifice would be remembered as one of the most touching stories of the Second World War, and their legacy continues to this day.

No Greater Love features two hours of interviews with survivors of the sinking of the Dorchester, rescuers of the terrified men, and naval historians; along with archival recordings and vivid recreations of that night in February 1943 when nearly 700 men lost their lives in one of the greatest naval tragedies of World War II. It is a fitting tribute to four men who gave their lives so that others could live.

SOURCES:
Sinking of the Dorchester: The Story America Will Never Forget and the World, by Chester J. Szymczak. 1976.
The four chaplains