S/Sgt. Joe Riley Anness Jr.
| S/Sgt. Joseph
Riley Anness Jr. was the son of Susie & Joseph
R. Anness Sr. He was born on March 9, 1914, in
Boyle County. He had two brothers and a
sister. Joe was the cousin of Elzie Anness also one
of the original members of D Company. On
April 30, 1934, Joe joined the Kentucky National
Guard's 38th Tank Company which was headquartered
in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
Joe was working on the family farm when, in the fall of 1940, his tank company was federalized as D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. He and the other members of the tank company traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky for a year of federal service.
At Ft. Knox, he was assigned to supplies. His job was making sure that the members of D Company received food and other necessary goods.
After taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana in late July of 1941, Joe and the other men learned that they were not being released from federal service. Instead, they were being sent overseas.
After receiving an eight day pass home, Joe
returned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and readied
supplies for transport to the west coast.
The battalion sailed, U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott,
for Hawaii as
part of a
in Hawaii on
and had a
When the ships
ship since the
Joe and the other members of D Company were attached to the 194th Tank Battalion and fought with this battalion. The official transfer of the company to the battalion was suspended when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Joe recalled that after the attack on Clark
Airfield that the tankers first were sent south
and then north toward Lingayen Gulf. They
ran into American troops who told them that the
Japanese had landed troops. As they headed
north, they were passed by riderless horses of
the 26th U. S. Cavalry. The cavalry had
suffered tremendous casualties when they mistook
Japanese tanks for American tanks.
After the attack, D Company was ordered to Mabalac on the Delores Road. They remained there until December 10th. They were next sent to Klumpit to look for paratroopers. While there, they guarded a huge bridge from saboteurs. On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers to do reconnaissance and guard beaches. They remained there until December 23rd, when they were sent 100 kilometers north to Rosario to assist the 26th U. S. Cavalry because the defensive lines had broken.
Christmas Day for Joe and the other tankers was
spent in a coconut grove. As it turned
out, the coconuts were all they had to
eat. From Christmas to January
15, 1942, both day and night, all the tanks
did was cover retreats of different infantry
units. The tanks were constantly
bombed, shelled and strafed.
The tankers were next assigned to guarding the
Bataan and Cabcaban Airfields. They also
guarded against beach landings and
paratroopers. They would continue this
duty until April 7th. On
April 8th, the tankers were sent Trail 10
and Mount Samat. The lines had
broken. They fought there until
receiving the news of the
Joe and the other members of D Company were informed of the surrender. Joe, Marcus Lawson, Morgan French, Jack Wilson, John Sadler and other members of D Company decided to attempt to reach Corregidor. The soldiers found an old boat and worked on the motor. They were able to get the motor running and rode it to Corregidor.
The soldiers trip was not an easy one. They were bombed by planes, shelled by artillery, and barely avoided mines. Once on Corregidor, Joe, Morgan French, and John Sadler volunteered to go to Ft. Drum. One reason they did this was that they believed that duty at the fort was better than sitting in Malinta Tunnel while the island was shelled. On the concrete battleship, Joe was assigned to load the big gun.
At Ft. Drum, Joe asked for food for his men. He recalled that the mess sergeant, at the fort, said that the twenty of them ate as much as a 120 men. They were treated extremely well by the other Americans and referred to as. "the Bataan Veterans,"
On May 6, 1942, Joe became a Prisoner of War. An American officer swam to the fort from Corregidor and told the men that at twelve noon that they must have a white flag flying on Fort Drum. He recalled that he and the other men ate as much food as possible since they did not know when there next meal would come.
When the Japanese arrived on the island and set up machine guns, Joe and the other men believed that they were going to be shot. The Japanese lined the prisoners up and took what they wanted from the men. They also were beaten. It was the worse day of Joe's life up to the time.
Joe and the other Prisoners of War were put on small boats and taken to an area near Manila. There, they were held in sugarcane warehouse. Around 4:00 in the afternoon, they were lined up and put on a work detail. The POWs passed rocks all night, all day and night again. As they worked, the Japanese guarding them drank from buckets of water but for three days and nights made no effort to give any water to the POWs. When a new Japanese officer took over, he treated the POWs better and housed in a warehouse.
Joe and nine other men were sent to Ft. Drum. They emptied the food from the fort. He recalled they ate very well and that one of the men was allowed to cook for them.
After ten days, Joe and the other men were returned to the warehouse. They were loaded onto ships. They were taken to Manila, disembarked, and marched ten miles to Bilibid Prison. The POWs the next day were to be sent to Cabanatuan #3.
During the march to the camp, Joe saw Filipino's flash him and the other Americans the "V" for victory. Other Filipinos tried to give them coconuts. Those who were caught were beaten by the Japanese.
While at Cabanatuan #3, Joe was selected to go on a work detail to Nichols Field. The POWs were marched to Cabanatuan #1, were they met other members of D Company.
It was at this time that he saw his cousin, Elzie. The next day, he and other POWs were put on trucks and taken to Nichols Field. For about a year, he and the other POWs built runways for an airfield. While on this detail, the POWs lived in an old schoolhouse. With him on the detail were Edwin Rue, George VanArsdall, Jennings Scanlon, and Charlie Quinn. Approximately 300 Americans worked on the airfield.
When this work detail ended, Joe was sent to
Camp Murphy and Zablan Field. Once again,
he found himself building runways for a new
airfield. This was one of the worse
details because the Japanese commanding officer
killed POWs as he pleased.
On August 8, 1944, Joe and the other men learned that they were being sent to Japan. On August 20th, his name appeared on a POW draft list and he was taken to Bilibid Prison. Several days later, they were taken to the Port Area of Manila and boarded onto the Noto Maru. The ship had only one hold which was packed with 1,035 POWs. The ship sailed for Japan on August 27, 1944. After two days at sea, the ship stopped at Takao, Formosa. The ship sailed from Takao on September 1st and arrived at Moji, Japan, on September 4, 1944. During their time on the ship, twice a day, the POWs were fed barley. They remained in the ship's hold until they disembarked the ship on September 6th and taken, by train, to Tokyo for one night.
From Tokyo, the POWs were taken by train to Hanawa where they were held at Sendai #6. The only member of D Company in the camp was John Aldred. The POWs in the camp worked in a copper mine owned by Mitsubishi. During the winter, Joe and the other POWs had to walk through snow that was often two feet deep. In the camp the POWs slept on the floor. Each man had five or six blankets.
It was while at Sendai #6 that Joe received a severe beating simply because he wanted some hot water for a headache. The result of the beating was that he had two black eyes, various bruises and a sore head. All the Japanese enlisted men came out and beat him. After a hour, the beating was stopped so that he could go to work the next day.
The Japanese engineers at the mine told the POWs that the end of the war was coming. The POWs could tell something was going on because the treatment given to them had improved. The only bas part of this was that the POW food rations were cut by twenty percent.
In September 1945, the camp was turned over to an American officer. This officer forced the Japanese to give the POWs more food. One day, an American plane came over and dropped a note telling the men to paint "PW" on the roof of a building. After this was done, American planes dropped food to them.
An officer from the camp made his way to Sendai. He returned to the camp and told the POWs to make their way to Sendai. The POWs left the camp the evening of September 14th. Joe was liberated by American forces. He was returned to the Philippines to be fattened up. After six days in the Philippines he and other POWs were put on a ship returned to the United States. He entered the U.S. at Seattle, Washington.
On July 6, 1946, Joe was discharged from the army. After nineteen days, Joe reenlisted in the army. At the end of his military career, he was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He retired on March 1, 1961, as a staff sergeant.
Joe R. Anness Jr. passed away on July 1, 1976, in Danville, Kentucky. Sixteen members of the 192nd served as his pallbearers.