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The USS FlierThe USS Flier

Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine

Michael Sturma

Narrated by Todd Barsness

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Kentucky

The fate of the USS Flier is one of the most heroic stories of the Second World War. On August 13, 1944, the submarine struck a mine and sank to the bottom of the Sulu Sea in less than one minute, leaving only fourteen of its eighty-six crewmen alive. After enduring eighteen hours in the water, the eight remaining survivors swam to a remote island controlled by the Japanese. Deep in enemy territory and without food or drinking water, the crewmen soon realized that their struggle for survival had just begun. Noted historian Michael Sturma’s vivid recounting of the harrowing story of the USS Flier has all the elements of a classic World War II survival tale: sudden disaster, physical deprivation, a ruthless enemy, friendly guerrillas, and a dramatic escape from behind enemy lines. The eight sailors who survived the disaster became the first Americans of the Pacific conflict to escape from a sunken submarine and return safely to the United States. Though some of the Flier’s mysteries remain with the submarine beneath the sea, this account sheds light on the nature of underwater warfare and naval protocol and demonstrates the high degree of cooperation that existed among submariners, coast watchers, and guerrillas in the Philippines. Sturma fills a historical gap by detailing this important episode of the Second World War.

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.


“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

“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

“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

“Sturma tells an engrossing story of courage, suffering and survival.”

Kirkus Reviews

“This is an amazing story of survival during wartime.”

Military Heritage

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University Press Audiobooks