Belly of the Beast: A POW's Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival Aboard the Infamous WWII Japanese Hell Ship Oryoku Maru
On December 13, 1944, POW Estel Myers was herded aboard the Japanese prison ship, the Oryoku Maru, with more than 1,600 other American captives. More than 1,100 of them would be dead by journey’s end...
The son of a Kentucky sharecropper and an enlistee in the Navy’s medical corps, Myers arrived in Manilla shortly before the bombings of Pearl Harbor and the other six targets of the Imperial Japanese military. While he and his fellow corpsmen tended to the bloody tide of soldiers pouring into their once peaceful Naval hospital, the Japanese overwhelmed the Pacific islands, capturing 78,000 POWs by April 1942. Myers was one of the first captured.
After a brutal three-year encampment, Myers and his fellow POWs were forced onto an enemy hell ship bound for Japan. Suffocation, malnutrition, disease, dehydration, infestation, madness, and simple despair claimed the lives of nearly three quarters of those who boarded "the beast".
A compelling account of a rarely recorded event in military history, this is more than Estel Myers’ true story—this is an homage to the unfailing courage of men at war, an inspiring chronicle of self-sacrifice and endurance, and a tribute to the power of faith, the strength of the soul, and the triumph of the human spirit.
"An inspiring look at one of World War II's darkest hours." —James Bradley, Author of Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys
"A searing chronicle." —Kirkus Reviews
At dusk on December 8, 1941, the carrier Enterprise and her escort of cruisers and destroyers entered Pearl Harbor. Officers and men lined the rails, watching in stunned silence. The twisted, smoldering superstructure of the Arizona was still aflame, and there was a stench of charred wood and fuel oil in the air.
“Morale went to nothing just about then,” said an officer on one of the escorting cruisers. “We were sick and shocked. We couldn’t believe that this had happened to us.” Through the night, the crew of the Enterprise, under the command of Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, took on fuel, provisions, and ammunition. Before dawn it was back at sea.
The Enterprise was just one of the carriers that won the war in the Pacific. Here is the extraordinary story of the men and ships that turned the tide of the war.
Known throughout the fleet as “Big Ben,” the USS Franklin was christened for the legacy of the four prior U.S. Navy ships named after Benjamin Franklin. The Franklin was one of twenty-four Essex-class fast carriers built during World War II, forming the backbone of the U.S. Navy’s war against Japan.
On March 19, 1945, during a planned aircraft launch against Honshu, the Japanese mainland, the Franklin was struck with a 250kg bomb from an enemy aircraft, setting off a chain reaction of exploding ordnance and aviation fuel.
The aircraft carrier, now on fire, listing heavily to starboard, and with over one thousand casualties, appeared to be mortally wounded. Inferno tells the heroic tale of the efforts that saved “Big Ben.” It is a tremendous story of endurance and seamanship told in harrowing detail in the survivors’ own words. Inferno makes for gripping reading.
Here, in their own words, are the true stories of these aquatic commandos, whose daring exploits and bravery would pave the way for thousands of American fighting men around the globe -- and whose recolitionary training and fighting methods would evolve into the modern specail forces known as the Navy SEALs.
Included are Admiral William S. Sullivan's account of the problems involved in clearing Manila Harbor of some five hundred wrecked vessels left by the departing Japanese and Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid's description of the communications breakdown at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. There are also the very personal recollections of humor and horror told by the unknown actors in the war: the hospital corpsman, the coxswain, and the machinist's mate. Originally published in 1986, this volume is an unusual and lasting tribute to the ingenuity and teamwork demonstrated by America's forces in the Pacific as well as a celebration of the human spirit
In War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific, North reveals:
Eyewitness testimony from Pearl Harbor veterans that Japanese Zeros did not fire the first shots: our defending forces did—with startling results
The living hell of the Bataan Death March and the daring rescue of the Ghosts of Bataan
The big battles: the Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, the Marianas, Leyte
How Americans cracked the secret Japanese JN-25 code and changed the course of the war
War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific is the essential book for every veteran of the war, every student of military history, and every American who is inspired by the courage and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation in one of its greatest moments.
Few naval aviators in World War II realized that when they earned their wings of gold they were about to become test pilots for a whole new kind of combat. In their own words, these courageous fliers describe the life-and-death air battles that defined the revolution in naval strategy that rose from the ashes of Pearl Harbor, when fighter pilots watched in horror as Japanese carrier-launched aircraft bombed their planes and airfields into smoking rubble.
While following the pilots’ firsthand reports of air strikes and blazing dogfights across the islands and atolls of the Pacific, Astor explores the ways the U.S. Navy began its momentous transformation before the war. Later, the critical role of aircraft carriers in the stunning U.S. victory at Midway sounded the death knell for conventional naval warfare, yet the public, the press, the Army, and even the president’s advisors refused to recognize the new reality. In fact, only a few in the Navy understood that a new era had begun that would change the face of war forever.
The young Americans who fought the deadly duels against Imperial Japanese forces high over the Pacific gave everything they had to the war effort, and many made the supreme sacrifice. Wings of Gold pays tribute to their courage, daring, and selfless dedication. Vividly told, thoroughly researched, and filled with stirring accounts of the Pacific War’s greatest air battles, Wings of Gold is an important addition to the annals of World War II aerial combat.
From the Hardcover edition.