Surface and Destroy: The Submarine Gun War in the Pacific Released 8/31
Now available in paperback, Surface and Destroy: The Submarine Gun War in the Pacific by Michael Sturma examines this underappreciated aspect of submarine warfare during World War II, delving into the techniques and dangers of a surface attack. Though first hailed as the “most intricate and perfect engine of destruction which scientific military design is yet to produce,” the American torpedo often failed in action, exploding too early, too late, or not at all. The unreliable performances of these torpedoes prompted the increased use of surface guns. Undoubtedly, such situations presented sailors with some of the most harrowing moments of their wartime experience, as close-up encounters with the enemies often magnified the cruelty of battle. These surface actions also extended the potential for mercy, as face-to-face combat highlighted the shared humanity present in both sides.
By shifting the focus from torpedo attacks to surface gun actions, Surface and Destroy raises new questions about submarine warfare, illuminating not only its military significance but also the mindsets of the individual submariners as they dealt with both enemies and civilians. Sturma’s focus on the war in the Pacific highlights an aspect of World War II that is often ignored in general discussion. Scholars and history buffs alike will be fascinated by his descriptive narrative of these maritime conflicts.
Michael Sturma is chair of the history program at Murdoch University in Australia. He is the author of several books on maritime history, including The USS Flier: Death and Survival on a World War II Submarine, Death at a Distance: The Loss of the Legendary USS Harder, and South Sea Maidens: Western Fantasy and Sexual Politics in the South Pacific.