Pvt. Joseph Nicholas Angelone
| Pvt. Joseph
N. Angelone was born in 1915 in Rockaway Beach, New
York City, New York to Nicholas & Catherine
Angelone. With his two brothers and sister, he
grew up at 180 Beach 85th Street, Rockaway Beach,
Queens, New York. He attended Public School #44
and Far Rockaway High School. In 1931, his
mother died, so Joe left school to help support his
family. He went to work at his father's cement
contracting company. When he was inducted into
the army, he was working as a butcher for a meat
He was inducted into the U. S. Army on March 28, 1941 in Jamaica, New York. It is believed that he did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion and sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was at there that Joseph volunteered to become a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion. He was assigned to Headquarters Company.
The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy. They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover. The soldiers received passes and allowed to explore the islands. They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam. When the ships arrived at Guam, they took on bananas, vegetables, coconuts, and water. The soldiers remained on ship since the convoy was sailing the next day.
About 8:00 in the morning on Thursday, November 20th the ships arrived at Manila Bay. After arriving at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked. The tankers rode buses to the train station where they got out and took a train to Ft. Stostenburg. Other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.
At the fort, the tankers were met by General Edward King. King welcomed them and made sure that they had what they needed. He also was apologetic that there were no barracks for the tankers and that they had to love in tents. The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.
For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons. They also spent a large amount of time loading ammunition belts. The plan was for them, with the 194th Tank Battalion, to take part in maneuvers.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Joseph watched the Japanese attack on Clark Field from the 192nd's bivouac. During the attack, he could do little more than watch since his company did not have the weapons needed to fight airplanes.
For the next four months, Joseph worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with the supplies needed to fight. The morning of April 9, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni informed his company of the surrendered and gave orders that any supplies that could be used by the Japanese should be destroyed. It was on this date that Joseph became a Prisoner of War.
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. A Japanese officer ordered Joseph and the rest of his company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road. They were told to put their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans.
Joseph and his company boarded their trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up in a car in front of the Japanese soldiers. He got out of the car and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. The Japanese sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, Joseph's group of POWs was moved to a school yard in Mariveles. The POWs were left sitting in the sun for hours. The Japanese did not feed them or give them water. Behind the POWs were four Japanese artillery pieces which began firing on Corregidor and Ft. Drum. These two islands had not surrendered. Shells from these two American forts began landing among the POWs. The POWs could do little since they had no place to hide. Some POWs were killed from incoming American shells. One group that tried to hide in a small brick building died when it took a direct hit. The American guns did succeed in knocking out three of the four Japanese guns.
The POWs were ordered to move again by the Japanese. Joseph and the other men had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march he received no water and little food. At San Fernando, he was put into a small wooden boxcar and taken to Capas. The cars could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each car. Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car. From Capas, Joseph walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an
unfinished Filipino training base that the Japanese
pressed into service as a Prisoner of War
camp. It turned out to be a death trap with as
many as fifty POWs dying each day. There was
only one working water faucet for the entire
camp. To get a drink, men stood in line for
days. Many died while waiting for a drink.
Seeing that the conditions in
the camp were terrible, the Japanese opened a new
camp at Cabanatuan. Joseph and the other
healthy POWs were sent to the camp while those too
ill to be moved remained at Camp
O'Donnell. It is known that Joseph
was sent to Cabanatuan when the camp opened.
He remained in the camp until he was selected to go
out on a work on the Las Pinas Detail on December
On October 10th, Joseph with other prisoners were marched to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Arisan Maru. Joseph's POW group was scheduled to sail on the Houkusen Maru, but one group of POWs had not arrived, and the ship was ready to sail, the Japanese switched the POW detachments. When the final group of POWs arrived at the pier, the POWs were boarded onto the Arisan Maru. The 1803 POWs were packed into the ship's number two hold which was large enough for 400 men. Within the first 48 hours, five POWs had died.
The ship sailed but instead of heading to Japan, it headed south to Palawan Island. In a cove off the island, the ship hid from American planes. During this time, the ship was attacked once by American planes.
The POWs discovered that the power to the hold's lighting system had not been turned off even though the lights had been removed. Some creative POWs figured out a way to wire the ventilation system into the lighting system. For two days the POWs had fresh air, until the Japanese realized what the POWs had done. After discovering this, the Japanese turned off the power and ended the ventilation.
A few days later, the Japanese realized that more POWs would die if they did not do something. Acknowledging the situation in the hold was extremely bad, the Japanese opened the first hold and moved 800 POWs to it. This hold was partially filled with coal.
On October 20th, the ship returned to Manila to join a twelve ship convoy. On October 21, 1944, the Arisan Maru sailed for Takao, Formosa. The evening Tuesday, October 24th, twenty POWs were on deck preparing dinner. The ship was in the Bashi Channel of the South China Sea. Suddenly, the Japanese on deck ran toward the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo pass in front of the ship. Moments later the Japanese ran to the stern of the ship as another torpedo missed the ship.
The ship shook and came to a dead stop in the water. It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships. The Japanese guards fired their guns at the POWs on deck to get them back into the ship's holds. After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the roper ladders into the holds and put the hatch covers on the holds. They did not tie the covers down. A short time later, the Japanese abandoned ship.
Since the hatch covers had not been tied down, some of the POWs made their way back on deck. These men reattached and dropped ropes and rope ladders to the men in the holds. For the next two hours, the ship remained afloat. The POWs who could not swim stuffed themselves with food from the ship's kitchen. Others attempted to find anything that would float. Some POWs swam to other Japanese ships, but they were pushed away with poles and hit with clubs.
Five of the POWs found an abandoned lifeboat which had no oars. When a Japanese destroyer approached the boat, the POWs played dead. Although it appeared the destroyer was going to fire on the boat, it pulled away without firing.
At some point, the ship split in two. Sometime after dark, the Arisan Maru sunk. Cries for help slowly faded away until there was silence. Of the 1803 men who boarded the Arisan Maru, only nine survived the attack. Eight of these men survived the war. Pvt. Joseph N. Angelone was not one of them.
Since he was lost at sea, Pvt. Joseph N. Angelone's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.