3¢ Four Chaplains
Issue Date: May 28, 1948
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 1/2
Color: Gray black
U.S. #956 honors the four chaplains who gave their lives in the sinking of the S.S. Dorchester. The stamp pictures the four chaplains (George L. Fox, Clark V. Poling, John P. Washington, and Alexander D. Goode) about the sinking of the ship.
Sinking of the S.S. Dorchester
On the night of February 3, 1943, the S.S. Dorchester, a coastal liner had been turned into a troop transport for World War II, was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine near Newfoundland. With the electrical system taken out by the torpedo, the men on the ship began to panic, with many trapped below deck. The chaplains helped to calm the men and establish an orderly evacuation. As they passed out life jackets, they found there weren’t enough for everyone, so the four chaplains gave theirs away to other men on board. After helping as many of the men into lifeboats as they could, they linked arms, said prayers, and sang hymns until the ship eventually sunk.
According to one survivor, “The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.” Of the 904 men initially aboard the ship, just 230 were rescued, as hypothermia took countless lives.
In December 1944, the four chaplains were awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.