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Escape from Java (Hardback)

The Extraordinary World War II Story of the USS Marblehead

WWII Naval Japan & the Pacific Front Naval Warfare WWII Military

By John J Domagalski
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 25 black and white illustrations & 5 black and white maps
ISBN: 9781526784414
Published: 30th March 2022

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RRP £25.00

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The old light cruiser Marblehead was living out her final years of naval service as a member of the United States Asiatic Fleet in 1941. The small group of mostly antiquated ships based in the Philippines sailed the waters of East Asia to show the American flag in places like China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore. The sudden eruption of World War II in the Pacific put the warship on the front lines of the conflict as Imperial Japan unleased a series of devastating attacks across the region.

On the morning of February 4, 1942, the warship was surprised by Japanese planes northeast of Java. Two large bombs slammed into Marblehead causing fires, casualties, and knocking out her steering gear. A third bomb exploded close by underwater. The near miss ripped a large gash into her hull allowing a torrent of water to rush inside the ship.

Escape from Java takes the reader all throughout the ship as the story unfolds – next to gunners toiling to keep their guns firing, with medical staff tending to the wounded, and alongside damage control sailors working in flooded compartments. The damage was critical, so much so the Japanese radioed they had sunk the ship. In fact, through courage, sacrifice, and super-human effort, Marblehead would successfully make a harrowing 13,000 mile journey back to the US.

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About John J Domagalski



  • John J. Domagalski (www.pacificwarauthor.com) is the author of several books about World War II in the Pacific. Under a Blood Red Sun: The Remarkable Story of PT Boats in the Philippines and the Rescue of General MacArthur tells the story a group of American sailors trapped in the Philippines during the early days of the Pacific War. Into the Dark Water: The Story of Three Officers and PT-109  uses the stories of three young naval officers to tell the World War II saga of the warship made famous by John F. Kennedy.




  • His fascination with history began at a young age by building model ships and reading books about World War II. The interest eventually grew into research and writing. He has interviewed dozens of World War II veterans. Domagalski is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and lives near Chicago.



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