Sgt. Elzie Elworth Anness
Sgt. Elzie E. Anness was born on August 4, 1921,
in Springtown, Kentucky, to Omar W. Anness
& Margaret Harlow-Anness, and was raised,
with his two sisters and two brothers, at 313
Tabler Avenue in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. He
left school after completing three years of high
Elzie joined the Kentucky National Guard and
trained above a store in Harrodsburg with his
cousin, Joe Anness,
who was also in the tank company
In September 1940, the tank camp was re-designated as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion, and left for Fort Knox, Kentucky, on November 28, 1940, where they joined three other tanks companies. Since the companies had few tanks, they pulled their tanks from the junkyard at the fort and rebuilt them to operating condition. The members of the company trained on the equipment and learned to operate it. In January 1941, Elzie was transferred to Headquarters Company.
The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to Louisiana in the late summer of 1941, to take part in maneuvers. After the maneuvers, they were ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, without being given a reason. According to members of the battalion, General George S. Patton had selected them to go overseas. Men who were married or 29 years old, or older, were given the chance to be released from federal service. Replacements for these men came from the 753rd Tank Battalion.
HQ Company traveled by train, through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, to San Francisco, California. From there, the tankers were ferried to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island they were given physicals and inoculated for tropical diseases. Some men were held back for health issues but scheduled to join the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th, as part of a three ship convoy which arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd. Since they had a two day layover, the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island. On Wednesday, November 5th, the ships sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes. During this part of the voyage, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon. The cruiser that was escorting the two transports revved its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it took off in the direction of the smoke. It turned out that the unknown ship was from a friendly country.
When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing, the next day, for Manila. At one point, the ships passed an island at night in total blackout. This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. The ships entered Manila Bay, at 8:00 A.M., on Thursday, November 20th. Later that day, they docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. Those assigned to trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained at the pier to unload the tanks.
At the fort, they were greeted by Colonel Edward King, who apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Field. He made sure that they had what they needed and that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own dinner.
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 as they prepared for maneuvers with the 194th Tank Battalion.
On Monday, December 1st, the tanks were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against paratroopers. The 194th Tank Battalion guarded the northern half of the airfield, while the 192nd guarded the southern half. At all times, two members of every tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles. Meals were brought to them by food trucks.
The morning of December 8th, the officers of the battalions met and were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hours earlier. All the members of the letter companies were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield.
All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes. At noon, all the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch. At 12:45 planes approached the airfield from the north. The tankers on duty at the airfield counted 54 planes. When bombs began exploding, the men knew the planes were Japanese. After the attack the 192nd remained at Ft. Stotsenburg for almost two weeks. They were than sent to the Lingayen Gulf area where the Japanese had landed.
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."
On April 11th, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. Elzie was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the 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 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, the POWs were 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 by 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. The POWs had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march, the POWs received no water and little food. It took the members of HQ Company six days to reach San Fernando. Once there, the POWs were put into a bull pen that had a fence around it. In one corner was a slit trench to be used as a toilet by the POWs. The surface of the trench moved since it was covered in maggots. The POWs had enough room to sit, but they could not lie down.
During their time in the bull pen, the POWs watched the Japanese bury three POWs. Two were still alive. When one of the men attempted to climb out of the grave, he was hit in the head with a shovel and buried.
At San Fernando, The POWs were 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 and closed the doors. Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars and walked the last ten miles to Camp O' Donnell.
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. The death rate among the POWs was
as high as fifty men a day. Many POWs
went out on work details to get out of the
The ship sailed the same
day. 600 POWs were put in one of the
ship's two holds. The hold was about 30
feet by 40 feet. There was no room for the
POWs to lay down. The remaining 300 POWs
were put in the other hold. During the
trip, the POWs were fed rice, fish, and
soup. It arrived in Takao, Formosa, on
November 14th, which means it may have stopped
at Hong Kong before sailing for Takao.
At the camp, the POWs were underfed, mistreated and beaten daily. Their job was to tear down the side of a mountain to build a breakwater for a submarine dry dock. They worked eight to eighteen hour shifts to the point of exhaustion. They had one day off every two weeks, eventually the POWs received four days off a month. The death rate in the camp was extremely high.
Marcus Lawson, Elzie became ill and was sent
to the camp hospital. The hospital was a
wooden shack with little heat. The sick
lay on the dirt floors. No POW could be
admitted to the hospital without approval of
two American doctors. Then, a Japanese
medic had to approve that the POW be
admitted. Since this process was drawn
out, many POWs died one or two days after
entering the hospital. There was very
little medicine available to treat the
POWs. Most of the POWs died from
beatings, starvation, lack of hygiene, and