1st Sgt. John Robert Andrews

    1st/Sgt. John Robert Andrews was born in June or July 1917 in Ottawa County to John Andres & Mary Ondrik-Andres.  His parents were immigrants from Czechoslovakia.  With his four sisters and three brothers, he grew up at 330 Maple Street in Port Clinton, Ohio. 

    John worked as a bartender in a restaurant when he joined Company H of the Ohio National Guard.  He was called to federal service on November 25, 1940.  It was at this time that his company was designated C Company, 192nd Tank Battalion.   His last name was spelled "Andrews" on his birth certificate, so the Army required he use it on his military record.

    After training for nearly a year, John took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  After the maneuvers, the battalion was ordered to remain at Camp Polk.  A few weeks later the battalion learned that they were not being released from federal service but being sent overseas.  Those men who were 29 years or older were released from federal service.  Replacements for the men, tanks, and half-tracks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion
    Over different train routes, the battalion's companies traveled to San Francisco.  They were taken by ferry to Fort McDowell on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  There, they were given physicals and inoculated for duty in the Philippine Islands.  Those men who were found to need minor medical treatment remained behind at the fort and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.

    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way.  When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th and docked at Pier 7.  November 20th was the date that the National Guardsmen were scheduled to be released from federal service.  The soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
For the next seventeen days the tankers worked to remove cosmoline from their weapons.  The grease was put on the weapons to protect them from rust while at sea.  They also loaded ammunition belts and did tank maintenance.

    The tanks were ordered to the perimeter of the Clark Airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed and the pilots went to lunch.  

    Around 12:45 in the afternoon, John and the other soldiers noticed planes approaching the airfield.  When bombs began exploding around them, the tankers knew the planes were Japanese.  Besides their .50 caliber machine guns, they had few weapons to use against the planes.  Most took cover and waited out the attack.  After it ended, they saw the destruction done by the tanks.
    The 192nd remained at Clark Field for about a week before they were ordered to the barrio of Dau so it would be near a road and railroad.  For the next four months, the tankers held positions so that the other units could disengage and form a defensive line. 
    The tankers soon found themselves in given the job of holding a defensive line so that the other troops could disengage and form a new defensive line further south.  They repeated this action over and over.
During the Battle of the Points the tanks were sent in to wipe out Japanese troops that had broken through the main defensive line and than trapped behind the line after the Filipino and American troops pushed the Japanese back.  According to members of the battalion they resorted two ways to wipe out the Japanese.
    The first method was to have three Filipino soldiers sit on the back of the tanks with sacks of hand grenades.  When the Japanese dove back into their foxholes, the tank would go over it and the soldiers would drop three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the ordnance was from World War I, one out of three hand grenades would explode.
    The second method was simple.  The tank was parked with one track across the foxhole.   The driver spun the tank on one track.  The tank dug into the dirt until the Japanese soldiers were dead.

    On April 9, 1942, John became a Prisoner of War.  From Mariveles, he started the death march to San Fernando.  There, he boarded a train and rode in a boxcar to Capas.  He then walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

    In an attempt to get out of Camp O'Donnell, John volunteered for a work detail to rebuild the bridges that the retreating Filipino and American forces had destroyed during the retreat.  The detail was under the command of Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd.  He attempted to fill the detail with as many of his own men as he could.  John was selected to drive a tuck that would supply the POWs rebuilding the bridges with materials.

    John first worked at Calaun.  There the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them medication.  They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.

    John was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.

    The next bridge John and the other POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria.  Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  It is not known if John was one of the twelve men selected by Lt. Col. Wickord to attend the dinner.

    When the detail ended, John was sent to Cabanatuan.  At some point, he was selected to go out on a work detail to Manila. 

    In early October 10, 1944, the Japanese, knowing that it was just a matter of time before the American forces would invade the Philippines, began sending large numbers of POWs to Japan or other occupied countries.  On October 11, 1944, John was taken to Pier 7 in the Port Area of Manila. 

    The POW group that John was in was suppose to be boarded onto the Hokusan Maru.  At the same time, another POW group was being sent to Japan of the Arisan Maru.  Since this POW group was not ready to board their ship, and John's group was ready to board, the Japanese swapped the groups and boarded John's POW group on the Arisan Maru.  The POWs were packed into the ship's hold. 

   On October 11th, the ship sailed but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  The ship anchored in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained for ten days.  During this time, the POWs realized that the Japanese had removed the light bulbs from the lighting system, but they had turned off the power.  Some POWs hotwired the ventilation fans into the lighting system which brought fresh air into the ship's hold.  The Japanese discover what had been done and cut the power.

  The Japanese realized that unless they did something, the POWs would die in large numbers.  To prevent this, the Japanese opened up a second hold and transferred POWs into it.  It was during this transfer that one POW was shot attempting to escape.  

    The stay in the cove resulted in the ship missing an air raid by American planes on ships in the Manila Bay. It is known that the ship was attacked once by American planes while in the cove.  The Arisan Maru returned to the Manila on October 20th.  There, it joined a convoy.  

    On October 21st, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs.  This made the ships targets for submarines.  

    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, at 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those POWs in the ship's two holds.  The ship was near Shoonan off the coast of China.  Suddenly, there was a sudden jar which was caused by the ship being hit by two torpedoes.  The ship stopped dead in the water.  Two torpedoes had hit the ship in its third hold where there were no POWs.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U. S. S Snook.

    One of the Japanese guards took a machinegun and began firing at the POWs who were on deck.  To escape the fire, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in the holds, the Japanese put the hatch covers on the holds.

    As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the ship's two occupied holds.  Some of the POWs in the second hold were able to climb out and reattached the ladders into the holds.  They also dropped ropes down to the POWs in both holds.

    All of the POWs were able to get onto the deck of the ship.  At first, few POWs attempted to escape the ship.  A group of 35 men swam to a nearby Japanese ship, but when the Japanese realized they were POWs, they were pushed away with poles and clubs.  Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.

    As the ship got lower in the water, more POWs took to the water.  Those POWs too weak to swim raided the ship's food lockers.  They wanted to die with full stomachs.  Many POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.  Nine POWs found a abandoned lifeboat floating in the ocean.  These men stated that most of the POWs were still on deck even after it became apparent that the ship was sinking.   

    The exact time of the ship's sinking is not known since it took place after dark.  According to the surviving POWs, as evening became night, the cries for help became fewer and fewer until there was silence.  1st Sgt. John R. Andrews did not survive the sinking of the Arisan Maru.

    Since 1st Sgt. John R. Andrews died at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.    



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