9781597978392 cover

Sunk in Kula Gulf

The Final Voyage of the U. S. S. Helena and the Incredible Story of Her Survivors

By John J. Domagalski

150 x 230 mm, 272 pages, 39 b&w photographs & 3 maps, 9781597978392, £18.99, Hardback, Potomac Books, Inc.

Currently in stock.

The early morning hours of July 6, 1943, found the USS Helena in what would later be known as the Battle of Kula Gulf. But the ship’s participation in the battle came to a swift end when three Japanese torpedoes suddenly struck. Almost 170 sailors went down with the ship, many never surviving the initial torpedo hits. As the last of the Helena disappeared below the ocean’s surface, the remaining crewmen’s struggle for survival had only just begun.

Sunk in Kula Gulf tells the epic story of the Helena’s survivors. Two destroyers plucked more than 700 sailors from the sea in a night rescue operation as the battle continued to rage. A second group of 88 men - clustered into three lifeboats - made it to a nearby island and were rescued the next day. A third group of survivors, spread over a wide area, was missed entirely. Clinging to life rafts or debris, the weary sailors were pushed away from the area of the sinking by a strong ocean current. After enduring days at sea under the hot tropical sun, the survivors finally found land. It was, however, the Japanese-held island of Vella Lavella and deep behind the front lines. The survivors organised and disappeared into the island’s interior jungle. Living a meager existence, the group evaded the Japanese for eight days until the Marines and U.S. Navy evacuated the shipwrecked sailors in a daring rescue operation. Using a wide variety of sources, including previously unpublished firsthand accounts, John Domagalski brings to life this amazing little-known story from World War II.

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