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
The 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.
Roll Call of Survivors
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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.