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
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 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,
his men the
news of the
surrender. While informing the members
of the company
waved his arm
tanks and told
the men that
they would no
he spoke, his
He turned away
from the men
for a moment,
and when he
turned back he
He next told
should do to
that they all
He told the
that could be
used by the
The only thing
they were told
not to destroy
The men waited
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."
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
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.