Sunk in Kula Gulf


Sunk in Kula Gulf

The Final Voyage of the USS Helena and the Incredible Story of Her Survivors in World War II

John J. Domagalski

272 pages


September 2012


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

February 2012


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The early morning hours of July 6, 1943, found the USS Helena off the Solomon Islands in what would later be known as the Battle of Kula Gulf. But the ship’s participation in the battle came to a swift end when three Japanese torpedoes suddenly struck. One hundred and sixty-eight sailors went down with the ship, many never surviving the initial torpedo hits. As the last of the Helena disappeared below the ocean’s surface, the remaining crewmen’s struggle for survival had only just begun.Sunk in Kula Gulf tells the epic story of the Helena’s survivors. Two destroyers plucked more than seven hundred from the sea in a night rescue operation as the battle continued to rage. A second group of eighty-eight sailors —clustered into three lifeboats—made it to a nearby island and was rescued the next day. A third group of survivors, spread over a wide area, was missed entirely. Clinging to life rafts or debris, the weary men were pushed away from the area of the sinking by a strong current. After enduring days at sea under the hot tropical sun, they finally found land. It was, however, the Japanese-held island of Vella Lavella and deep behind the front lines. The survivors organized and disappeared into the island’s interior jungle. Living a meager existence, the group evaded the Japanese for eight days until the Marines and U.S. Navy evacuated the shipwrecked sailors in a daring rescue operation. Using a wide variety of sources, including previously unpublished firsthand accounts, John J. Domagalski brings to life this amazing, little-known story from World War II.

Author Bio

John J. Domagalski ( is the author of Under a Blood Red Sun: The Remarkable Story of PT boats in the Philippines and the Rescue of General MacArthur. It is the story of a small group of American sailors fighting the Japanese – and desperate circumstances – in the Philippines during the opening days of World War II


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

“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