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Sunk in Kula Gulf: The Final Voyage of the USS Helena and the Incredible Story of Her Survivors in World War II Hardcover – September 1, 2012


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Sunk in Kula Gulf: The Final Voyage of the USS Helena and the Incredible Story of Her Survivors in World War II + Lost at Guadalcanal: The Final Battles of the Astoria and Chicago as Described by Survivors and in Official Reports
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books; 1st Printing edition (September 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597978396
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597978392
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Sunk in Kula Gulf is a thrilling account of one of World War II’s most dramatic episodes.”—Alex Kershaw, author of The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau
(Alex Kershaw)

“The greatest true story never told of World War II. A vivid, powerful drama of naval combat, sacrifice, survival, and rescue in the Pacific, Sunk in Kula Gulf is in the capable hands of skilled researcher and master storyteller John Domagalski.”—Bruce Henderson, author of Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War
(Bruce Henderson)

About the Author

John J. Domagalski is the author of Lost at Guadalcanal (2010). He lives in the Chicago area.

Customer Reviews

I so appreciate Domagalski's telling of this story.
Cheryl
Sunk in Kula Gulf is an engaging story of USS Helena and its final days as a U.S. warship in the South Pacific during WWII.
Mike K.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys World War II or naval history.
Researcher1961

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By 104 ocean greeens on November 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a well written and historically accurate account of the sinking of the cruiser, Helena by the Japanese Immperial Navy on July 6th, 1943. It is a first person account by many of the survivors of the sinking. The action takes place at night. The descriptions are a dramatic, action oriented and a fast moving account of the desparate efforts of the survivors as they flee the sinking cruiser, on that night. You feel you were there, by the up close and personal accounts of many of the 1200 sailors and marines who manned that ship. You feel the shock when the ship was torpetoed. The author was able to capture the chaos, the desparate situation with no communications to abandon ship. When the ship was initially hit, it split in two. There was quick disciplined action by the officers in charge to get everybody, including many stationed deep in the ship,as part of heavy gun turret crews, off the fast sinking ship in time to save as many lives as possible. With all hell breaking loose, heroism was common place as the survivors struggled to live in the pitch black, oil filled, shark infested waters of the Kula Gulf. Many of these oil soaked survivors were rescued that night but with an on going naval battle in place, many of the survivors were not rescued quickly, and many heartbreakingly gave up. A number of who were not immediately rescued, without water or food, had another more engrossing story of survival. Swimming to a Japanese held island, miles away, the author was able to describle a tension filled period of hide and seek with the Japanese troops there, before their own dramatic rescue by an American Navy task force.

I would highly recommend this book for any one who is interested in an on the scene account of war and survival in World War II.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jan on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in WWII naval history will appreciate this account of the USS Helena's demise in the Kula Gulf after being hit by torpedoes from Japanese warships. The author's research is meticulous. Historical facts surrounding the positioning of battleships in this area of the Pacific and the strategy to attack enemy ships are skillfully blended with biographical sketches of many of the Helena officers and crew. The nighttime rescue of hundreds of survivors of the sunken ship and the later rescue of sailors who swam and drifted to the Japanese-held island of Vella Lavella are highlights of the book. The description of crucial assistance offered to the survivors by the coastwatchers, natives, and a lone missionary on Vella Lavella reminds the reader of the bravery and compassion shown by people who are not normally acknowledged in our history books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne on April 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sunk in Kula Gulf is a wonderful story about the USS Helena and her survivors during World War II. I found myself unable to put the book down after becoming acquainted with the brave souls who found themselves fighting for survival in Japanese waters. The author did detailed research into the events, and depicted them accurately as they unfolded. John Domagalski brought an important part of history to life for those of us who might have never known the true story! It is an incredible testimonial to the men who fought during WWII!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mmunoz on March 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was not previously familiar with the story of the Helena, but it is a story that needed to be told. I found the book to be well written and interesting. It is one of the better World War II books that I have read recently. Domagalski pulls the reader into the action with a mix of background, battle details and personal stories. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the Pacific Theater of WWII.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Researcher1961 on February 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This story of the heroes of the USS Helena is not well known even though it was arguably the most dramatic naval rescue of World War II. Mr. Domagalski provides a very detailed and readable account of the Helena's last days. As the nephew of a Helena survivor, I commend the author for publicizing this story. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys World War II or naval history. Thanks again Mr. Domagalski for a great read and for documenting the story of these heroes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Cochran on December 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In July of 1943, my father was an officer aboard the USS Helena. Called the "Fightingest Ship in the Navy," the Helena's time as a great warship came to a close during the Battle of Kula Gulf. However, the story of the crew of the Helena continued as individuals and groups of men struggled in hostile waters to survive and found unlikely shelter behind enemy lines. The story of the Helena, her crew and of the Navy that refused to let her survivors perish is a remarkable story of suspense, grit, despair and joy.

My father passed away recently, but his memories of that struggle and his respect for his fellow survivors and for the Coast Watchers/ministers and the Melanesians that saved him are well captured in Domagalski's work. Knowing of some of the events beforehand (based on my dad's stories and his written memoirs), I found the author's work to be very well researched with a sharp attention to detail. Also, readers will be very much pleased with the sheer number of first hand accounts and quotes from members the Helena's crew. That being said, Domagalski artfully weaves the facts and the crews' memories to tell a thrilling (and true!) story. Any student of the war in the Pacific and any one that enjoys reading about the everyday heroism of the average American serviceman will thoroughly enjoy this story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

John J. Domagalski (www.pacificwarauthor.com) is the author of Into the Dark Water: The Story of Three Officers and PT-109 (Casemate, 2014). The book uses the stories of three young naval officers to tell the World War II saga of the warship made famous by John F. Kennedy.

He is also the author of two other books. Sunk in Kula Gulf: The Final Voyage of the U.S.S. Helena and the Incredible Story of her Survivors in World War II (Potomac, 2012), tells the amazing little-known story of heroism and survival at sea that followed Helena's sinking in 1943. Lost at Guadalcanal: The Final Battles of the Astoria and Chicago as Described by Survivors and in Official Reports (McFarland, 2010), follows two World War II American warships through one of the U.S. Navy's greatest naval defeats. His articles have appeared in World War II History, Naval History, and World War II Quarterly Magazines.

Domagalski's fascination with history began at a young age by building model ships and reading books about World War II. The interest eventually grew into research and writing. He has interviewed scores of veterans who served in the Pacific during World War II. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and lives near Chicago.