- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (February 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813124816
- ISBN-13: 978-0813124810
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,284,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The USS Flier: Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine Hardcover – February 1, 2008
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"A detailed, beautifully written slice of the history of U.S. Navy submarine warfare. The important story of the hellish explosion of a Japanese mine against the American submarine Flier is the crucial incident in this insightful account. This is an example par excellence of combat history coupled with thoughtful analysis at the tactical and operational levels with an occasional strategic perspective and frame in the not too distant background. The reader can almost smell the stench of Second World War submarine diesel fuel while also gaining an appreciation for the importance of U.S. Navy undersea warfare in helping to bring about the collapse of the Empire of Japan in August 1945."―Carl Boyd, author of American Command of the Sea through Carriers, Codes, and the Silent Service"
"Michael Sturma has done an admirable job of compiling existing work and bringing it together in one place, applying it as necessary to enhance the understanding of the time, place, and events while he tells the story of one particular submarine and her crew. The work is a worthy contribution to World War II history in general and to scholarship on the submarine service in particular."―Don Keith, author of Final Patrol: True Stories of World War II Submarines"
"Readers will encounter lively essays about undersea tactics, the claustrophobic world of submariners, the history of mines and torpedoes, the American-supported Filipino guerrilla movement and the nasty politics of the U.S. submarine high command. Sturma tells an engrossing story of courage, suffering and survival." ―Kirkus Reviews"
"Michael Sturma has produced a first-class naval history that will delight general and specialist readers. It adds to what we know of Australian involvement in the American submarine operations and of their contribution to Japan's eventual defeat. The production values are superior, and the notes and bibliography are important guides for further inquiry." ―Australian Book Review"
"A great read. . . . The author . . . carefully examines the sub's all-too-short service and the fate of her survivors." ―Proceedings of the US Naval Institute"
"This is an amazing story of survival during wartime." ―Military Heritage"
"There have been a substantial number of stories of U.S. submarines published during the past two decades. Michael Sturma's tale of the USS Flier is a quality addition to that list. The Flier's story has most of the elements of a classic adventure: impending fate, sudden disaster, escape, deprivation, rescue, recrimination, and remaining mystery." ―Journal of Military History"
"It is an enlightening addition to World War II Pacific Theater of Operations historiography." ―Military History of the West"
"Sturma's familiarity with the breadth of his topic is simply amazing and his research, using many primary and secondary sources, is impeccable. . . . I highly recommend this work to naval history scholars and to those who are interested in learning more about the intricacies of how modern navies actually work." ―World War II Quarterly"
"Michael Sturma has done an effective job conveying the dramatic story of the loss of the USS Flier." ―Journal of America's Military Past"
"The story of how eight men managed to survive the boat's loss, a look at guerrilla operations in the Philippines, and more, give us an engaging and valuable account that is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the undersea war in the Pacific." ―NYMAS"
"An interesting combination of an Australian historian writing about an ill-fated American submarine that was lost with most of its crew on its second long patrol.... The amazing aftermath is particularly well described in considerable detail. A fascinating story." ―Work Boat World"
"Sturma sheds light on the trauma and personal tragedies of the Pacific war, recounting the great sacrifice and heroism of these remarkable men."―Lone Star Book Review"―
About the Author
Michael Sturma is chair of the history program at Murdoch University in Australia. He is the author of several books, including Death at a Distance: The Loss of the Legendary USS Harder and South Sea Maidens: Western Fantasy and Sexual Politics in the South Pacific.
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The story is not for everyone, but for those that have an interest in the vessel, it fills in a lot of details.
Sturma researched War Patrol Reports and the 1944 transcripts of the ship's skipper, Commander John Crowley, along with numerous other applicable publications available from US Navy Archives. After reading the book, you may jump to the conclusion either Commander John Crowley was a hard luck skipper, or the USS Flier was a hard-luck ship. In January 1944, on its first outing in the Pacific, Commander Crowley brought the sub into Midway harbor for refueling. Sturma provides a detailed look into the circumstances that led to the stranding of the submarine and subsequent sinking of its rescue vessel, the USS Macaw.
The book briefly describes the board of inquiry into the accident which held Crowley accountable, but permitted him to retain command. After major repairs in California, Commander Crowley led the USS Flier on its second patrol where it came to an abrupt end in the Balabac Strait on August 13, 1944.
Sturma begins with survivor accounts ("there was a big explosion") and analyzes the possible causes for the explosion. Although never proven conclusively, Sturma establishes a credible argument for a Japanese naval mine as the probable cause of the explosion. The story continues with the incredible fourteen-hour swim to a nearby island. Two days later the survivors make contact with coast watchers in the Phillipines, who radioed US Seventh Fleet to coordinate a rescue during the night of August 29, 1944.
The balance of the book describes the subsequent inquiry into the loss of the USS Flier, and the careers of Crowley, the other survivors, and Admiral Christie, the commander of the submarine fleet based out of Freemantle, Australia.
Whether it's a description of the evolution of Midway Harbor; mine warfare tactics; or the personal rivalries between the American commanders of Australia-based submarines, Sturma provides detailed segues into many facets of Naval and submarine warfare during World War II. The book has numerous charts that enhance the reader's ability to understand the operations areas.
This enjoyable and readable book honoring the USS Flier would be a welcome addition to any maritime library.
What Sturma does is in 166 pages creates the ability for questions to be raised about the Flier's loss and the story of the rescue of the eight survivors. The Flier's loss seems to have been connected to the loss of the USS Robalo commanded by Commander Manning P. Kimmel (son of Adm Husband Kimmel of Pearl Harbor). The Robalo was lost near where the Flier was lost. Rear Admiral Ralph Waldo Christie was relieved of his command after an inquest of the loss of the Flier and the Robalo. Sturma suggests that family ties between Kimmel and Admiral Thomas Kinkaid (Manning Kimmel was Kinkaid's nephew) or perhaps Christie gambled his career in wanting an inquest and lost.
Perhaps the location of the Flier would help answer questions about her loss. Such as did the Flier stray into a minefield? The Japanese laid mines in the shallow parts of the Balabac Strait. Could the location of the Flier give an idea if she was in the area of minefields. It has been reported she was found in 330 feet of water could confirm that idea she had been sailing in a minefield. The Japanese also laid deep mines as well as shallow. The location will give Historians a better idea of what caused the loss of the Flier and Sturma's book will help understand the aftermath.