Just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Edward C. Raymer and his team of Navy salvage divers began the Herculean task of rescuing men trapped in sunken ships. This memoir tells the compelling story of his team’s desperate attempts to save lives and salvage the ships. Using untested and potentially deadly diving techniques, the divers entered the interiors of sunken shipwrecks to a world of total blackness, unable to see even the faceplates of their helmets. Raymer and his crew memorized the ships’ blueprints and used their sense of touch, groping their way hundreds of feet inside the sunken vessels while coping with falling objects, sharks, floating bodies, and the constant threat of Japanese attacks from above. Though many salvage divers were killed or seriously injured, their successes were impressive. Raymer’s crew alone raised the battleships West Virginia, Nevada, and California before moving on to Guadalcanal and other battle sites.
Cdr. Edward C. Raymer, USN (Ret.), served thirty years in the U.S. Navy. Descent into Darkness was his only book. He died in 1997.
PRAISE FOR DESCENT INTO DARKNESS
“Descent into Darkness offers readers a fascinating look at a critical factor for Allied victory during the Second World War — salvage and repair. Raymer offers a first-person account that takes readers into his underwater world.”
— Galveston Daily News, April 8, 2012
“In this compelling memoir, Raymer describes the multiple hazards of working inside wreckage-strewn warships under the handicaps imposed by available diving technology. Courage was at least as important as competence as the number of dives mounted and the law of averages shifted against the men who went down.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Raymer's World War II memoir throws some light on a literally dark side of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War—the salvage efforts on sunken and damaged ships. . . . Raymer pays tribute to fallen comrades—diving was nearly as dangerous as combat—to good and bad superiors and divers, and to the technical ingenuity of the U.S. Navy at the time of its greatest trial.”
“Within the first few pages of this book, I found I was hooked and could not stop until I had finished. In this compelling memoir, the author’s word pictures tell us how it is to be alone in total darkness at great depths, totally dependent on a fragile air hose, feeling your way along the broken, jagged steel wreckage of bulkheads and equipment with the headless bodies of sailors bumping you silently in their underwater tomb.”
— Military Magazine