A True Story of Courage and Survival During World War II
“Their submarine was dead, one hundred and eighty feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Somehow they survived. They were tortured and beaten. Somehow they survived. Alex Kershaw has done it again as he brings to life World War II’s greatest submarine survival adventure.”
— James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise
In October 1944, the U.S. Navy submarine Tang was already legendary—it had sunk more enemy ships, rescued more downed airmen, and pulled off more daring surface attacks than any other Allied submarine in the Pacific. And then, on her fifth patrol, disaster struck. The Tang’s last torpedo went out straight on target, but suddenly malfunctioned, turned back in an erratic “circular run,” and struck the Tang with such enormous force that half of the eighty-seven-man crew was killed instantly.
Click to view a larger diagram of the TangThe survivors who went down with the Tang struggled to stay alive in their submerged “iron coffin” one hundred eighty feet beneath the surface, while the Japanese dropped deadly depth charges. As the oxygen depleted, some of the men made a daring ascent through the escape trunk. In the end just nine men of the original crew survived, including four who had been thrown from the bridge when the faulty torpedo hit, and had managed to tread water for over eight hours. But all of them were just beginning a far greater ordeal.
After being picked up by a Japanese patrol vessel, the survivors from the Tang were sent to a secret Japanese interrogation camp known as the “Torture Farm.” When they were finally liberated in August 1945, they were close to death, but they had revealed nothing to the Japanese, including the greatest secret of World War II.
Alex Kershaw brings to life this incredible story of survival and endurance in the face of staggering adversity.