20 The Castaway’s War

In this episode we’re in the Pacific in 1943 looking at the exploits of Lieutenant Hugh Miller. After his ship the USS Strong is sunk he washes up on a Pacific island terribly injured. It’s is a remarkable story of survival, and a one man war against the Japanese after being sunk.

I’m joined by Stephen Harding.

Stephen is long time journalist specialising in military affairs, he’s written a number of books including the New York Times bestseller “The Last Battle”… His latest book is “The Castaway’s War” tells the story of Hugh Miller and the subsequent events of him after the sinking of the USS Strong.

The Castaway's War: One Man's Battle against Imperial Japan
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In the early hours of July 5, 1943, the destroyer USS Strong was hit by a Japanese torpedo. The powerful weapon broke the destroyer's back, killed dozens of sailors, and sparked raging fires. While accompanying ships were able to take off most of Strong's surviving crewmembers, scores went into the ores went into the ocean as the once-proud warship sank beneath the waves—and a young officer's harrowing story of survival began.

Lieutenant Hugh Barr Miller, a prewar football star at the University of Alabama, went into the water as the vessel sank. Severely injured, Miller and several others survived three days at sea and eventually landed on a Japanese-occupied island. The survivors found fresh water and a few coconuts, but Miller, suffering from internal injuries and believing he was on the verge of death, ordered the others to go on without him. They reluctantly did so, believing, as Miller did, that he would be dead within hours.

But Miller didn't die, and his health improved enough for him to begin searching for food. He also found the enemy—Japanese forces patrolling the island. Miller was determined to survive, and so launched a one-man war against the island's occupiers.

Based on official American and Japanese histories, personal memoirs, and the author's exclusive interviews with many of the story's key participants, The Castaway's War is a rousing story of naval combat, bravery, and determination.