1AndrewsJ

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 Colonel  Edward King, who apologized that they had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field.  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 on December 1st.  That morning of December 8, 1941, the tankers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ordered back to their tanks.  When they looked up that morning, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed, where parked in a straight line outside the mess hall, 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 tank battalion received orders on December 21st that it was to proceed north to Lingayen Gulf.   Because of logistics problems, the B and C Companies soon ran low on gas.  When they reached Rosario, there was only enough for one tank platoon, from B Company, to proceed north to support the 26th Cavalry.
    On December 23rd and 24th, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta.   The bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed and the tankers made an end run to get south of river.  As they did this, they ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening.  They successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    On December 25th, the tanks of the battalion held the southern bank of the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, with the tanks of the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road. The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27th.
    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff. 
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self-Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
   
During the withdraw into the peninsula, the company crossed over the last bridge which was mined and about to be blown.  The 192nd held its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it and then cover the 192nd's withdraw. The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan.
    
Over the next several months, the battalion fought battle after battle with tanks that were not designed for jungle warfare.  The tank battalions , on January 28th, were given the job of protecting the beaches.  The 192nd was assigned the coast line from Paden Point to Limay along Bataan's east coast.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.  
    
B Company also took part in the Battle of the Pockets to wipe out Japanese soldiers who had been trapped behind the main defensive line.  The tanks would enter the pocket one at a time to replace a tank in the pocket.  Another tank did not enter the pocket until a tank exited the pocket.
   
To exterminate the Japanese, two methods were used.  The first was to have three Filipino soldiers ride on the back of the tank.  As the tank went over a Japanese foxhole, the Filipinos dropped three hand grenades into the foxhole.  Since the grenades were from WWI, one out of three usually exploded.
    The other method to use to kill the Japanese was to park a tank with one track over the foxhole.  The driver gave the other track power resulting with the tank spinning around and grinding its way down into the foxhole.  The tankers slept upwind of their tanks.

    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.  The POWs on the detail drove trucks for the Japanese without being supervised.  To get through Japanese check points, each man was given a pass.  From available information, it appears this detail lasted about six months.

    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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