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 packing house
    Joseph 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, but it is not known what training he received.  After completing basic training, he was assigned to the 753rd Tank Battalion, which was at Camp Polk, Louisiana.
  It was there that Joseph volunteered to become a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion and was assigned to Headquarters Company.
   Traveling west over different train routes, the tank battalion arrived at San Francisco and taken by ferry, to Angel Island.  On the island the tankers received physicals and inoculations.  Those men with medical conditions were replaced or held back to rejoin the battalion at a later date.
   The battalion sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and had a layover.  The soldiers received shore leave and allowed to explore the island.  They sailed again on Tuesday, November 4th for Guam.  When the ships arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, 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 docking at Manila, it was three or four hours before they disembarked.  Most of the tankers rode buses to Ft. Stostenburg, while other battalion members boarded their trucks and drove them to fort north of Manila.  The maintenance section of the battalion remained behind at Pier 7 to unload the battalion's tanks.

    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward King, who 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.  He remained with them until they received their Thanksgiving Dinner and after they had, he went to have his own dinner.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  The guns of their tanks had been greased so that they would not rust during the trip to the Philippines.  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 Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers.  The 194th Tank Battalion was assigned the north end of the airfield and the 192nd was assigned the south end.

    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 any weapons to fight planes.

    For the next four months, Joseph worked to supply the letter companies of the battalion with the supplies needed to fight.  The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender.  While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them.  As he spoke, his voice choked.  He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued.  He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks.  During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together.   He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese.  The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks.  The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move.  Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."         

    The morning of April 9, 1942, the members of the company became a Prisoners 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.

    The members of the 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.  When they were ordered to move again, they had no idea that they had started what has become known as "The Bataan Death March."   
When they given a break on the march, the POWs were ordered into a field.  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 called a forty men or eight.  The reason for the name is that each car could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 men into each car and closed the doors.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the car at Capas.  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 was considered too ill to be sent to the camp.  He remained at Camp O'Donnell until October 20, 1942, when he was sent to Bilibid Prison suffering from malnutrition and malaria.  Records show that he recovered and was sent to Cabanatuan where he remained until he was selected to go out on the Las Pinas Detail in September 1943.
    The POWs on the detail built runways at an airfield.  At its height, there were 800 POWs on the detail who were divided into two groups.  The first group drained the rice paddies and laid the foundation for the runway, while the second group of POWs built the runway. 

    Joseph became ill, while on the detail, and was sent to the hospital ward at Bilibid Prison, where he remained until he was discharged on April 27, 1944, and sent to Cabanatuan.  Medical records kept at the camp show that he was admitted to the camp hospital September 12, 1944, suffering from asthma and was not discharged until October 11th, because his name appeared on a list of POWs being sent to Japan.  The POWs were boarded onto trucks and driven to the Port Area of Manila.

    On October 10th, Joseph with other prisoners were 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.  So that the ship could 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 of the island, the ship hid from American planes which was not successful since 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.  When the Japanese realized what the POWs had done, they 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 of 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 passed behind the ship.

   Suddenly, the ship shook and came to a dead stop in the water.  It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships.  The Japanese guards aimed 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, but 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.  At some point the ship split in two.

    Three of the POWs found an abandoned lifeboat which had no oars.  In the boat they heard  cries for help, but they could not maneuver the boat to help the men.  As night fell, the cries became fewer until there was just silence.  The next day, the POWs picked up two more POWs.  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.

    Of the 1803 men who boarded the Arisan Maru, only nine survived the attack, but only 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.




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