Anness_J

 

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,  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.

    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.    
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company and C Company of the 194th, were given the job to hold the south riverbank so that the other units could withdraw.  The tank companies formed a defensive line along the bank of the river.  When the Japanese attacked the position at night, they were easy to see since they were wearing white t-shirts.  The tankers were able to hold up the Japanese and prevent them from crossing the river.         

    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 surrender.  
   
At 6:45 in the morning of April 9th, the tankers received the order "crash" on their radios.  They circled their tanks, fired a armor piercing round into each tank's engine. opened the gasoline cocks inside the tanks, and dropped hand granades into each crew compartment.  Some of the members of the  D Company took off for the hills but were picked up later.  Others safely made it to Corregidor.    Joe was one of twenty members of the company who decided to escape to Corregidor.

    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.

    The POWs on the detail were housed at the Pasay School in eighteen rooms.  30 POWs were assigned to a room.  The POWs were used to extend and widen runways for the Japanese Navy.   The plans for this expansion came from the American Army which had drawn them up before the war.  The Japanese wanted a runway 500 yards wide and a mile long going through hills and a swamp.
    Unlike the Americans, the Japanese had no plans on using construction equipment. Instead, they intended the POWs to do the work with picks, shovels, and wheel barrows.  The first POWs arrived at Pasay in August 1942.  The work was easy until the extension reached the hills.  When the extension reached the hills, some of which were 80 feet high, the POWs flattened them by hand.  The Japanese replaced the wheel barrows with mining cars that two POWs pushed to the swamp and dumped as land-fill.  As the work became harder and the POWs weaker, less work got done.
    At six A.M., the POWs had reveille and "bongo," or count, at 6:15 in detachments of 100 men.  After this came breakfast which was a fish soup with rice.  After breakfast, there was a second count of all POWs, which included both healthy and sick, before the POWs marched a mile and half to the airfield.
    After arriving at the airfield, they were counted again.  They went to a tool shed and received their tools; once again they were counted.  At the end of the work day, the POWs were counted again.  When they arrived back at the school, they were counted again.  Then, they would rush to the showers, since there only six showers and toilets for over 500 POWs.  They were fed dinner, another meal of fish and rice and than counted one final time. Lights were turned out at 9:00 P.M.
 

    The brutality shown to the POWs was severe.  The first Japanese commander of the camp, a Lt. Moto, was called the "White Angel" because he wore a spotless naval uniform.  He was commander of the camp for slightly over thirteen months.  One day a POW collapsed while working on the runway.  Moto was told about the man and came out and ordered him to get up.  When he couldn't four other Americans were made to carry the man back to the Pasay School. 
    At the school, the Japanese guards gave the man a shower and straightened his clothes as much as possible.  The other Americans were ordered to the school.  As they stood there, the White Angel ordered an American captain to follow him behind the school.  The POW was marched behind the school and the other Americans heard two shots.  The American officer told the men that the POW had said, "Tell them I went down smiling." There, the White Angel shot the POW as the man smiled at him.   As the man lay on the ground, he shot him a second time.  The American captain told the other Americans what had happened.  The White Angel told them that this was what going to happen to anyone who would not work for the Japanese Empire.
    The second commanding officer of the detail was known as "the Wolf."  He was a civilian who wore a Japanese Naval Uniform.  Each morning, he would come to the POW barracks and select those POWs who looked the sickest and made them line up.  The men were made to put one leg on each side of a trench and then do 50 push-ups.  If a man's arms gave out and he touched the ground, he was beaten with pick handles.
    On another occasion a POW collapsed on the runway.  The Wolf had the man taken back to the barracks.  When the Wolf came to the barracks that evening and the man was still unconscious, he banged the man's head into the concrete floor and kicked him in the head.  He then took the man to the shower and drowned him in the basin.
    A third POW who had tried to walk away from the detail told the guards to shoot him, the guards took him back to the Pasay School and strung him up by his thumbs outside the doorway and placed a bottle of beer and sandwich in front of him.  He was dead by evening.
    The remains of the POWs who had died on the detail were brought to Bilibid Prison in boxes.  The Japanese had death certificates, with the causes of death and signed by an American doctor, sent with the boxes.  The Americans from the detail, who accompanied the boxes, would not tell the POWs at Bilibid what had happened.  It was only when the sick, from the detail, began to arrive at Bilibid did they learn what the detail was like.  These men were sent to Bilibid to die since it would look better when it was reported to the International Red Cross.
   
     

    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 bad 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 the Dutch ship, the S.S. Klipfontein and returned to the United States arriving at Seattle on October 27, 1945.  He and the other former POWs were taken to Ft. Lewis, Washington, for further medical treatment.

    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 Louisvile, Kentucky, from a heart attack.  He had been visiting his sister there.  He was buried at Springhill Cemetery in Harrodsburg.  Sixteen members of the 192nd served as his pallbearers. 


 

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