Anness_J

 

S/Sgt. Joe Riley Anness Jr.


 

    S/Sgt. Joseph R. Anness Jr. was the son of Susie & Joseph R. Anness Sr., and was born on March 9, 1914, in Boyle County, Kentucky.  He had two brothers and a sister, and was teh cousin of Elzie Anness, who was also a member of his National Guard company.

    On April 30, 1934, Joe joined the Kentucky National Guard's tank company which was headquartered above a store in Harrodsburg.  Joe was working on his family's farm when, in 1940, the tank company was federalized.  On November 28, 1940, the members of the tank company boarded a train and rode it to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for what was suppose to be 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 gasoline and other necessary materials needed to keep their tanks running.

    After taking part in maneuvers in Louisiana from September 1st through 30th, the battalion was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana, instead of returning to Ft. Knox as had been expected.   Two weeks after arriving there, they learned that they were not being released from federal service but were being sent overseas as part of Operation PLUM.  Within hours, most of the tankers had figured out that PLUM stood for Philippine, Luzon, Manila.
    The reason for this move was an event that took place in the summer of 1941.  A squadron of American fighters was flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line for 30 miles to the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of miles away.  The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to Clark Field.  When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day, so the next day - when a Navy ship was sent to the area - the buoys had been picked up.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.

    After receiving a furlough home, Joe returned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and readied supplies for transport to the west coast.  Over different train routes, the companies of the battalion made their way to San Francisco, California, and were ferried, on the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Fort McDowell on Angel Island, where the battalion's medical detachment gave them physicals and inoculated the soldiers for duty in the Philippines.  Those men with minor medical conditions were held on the island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date.  Some men were simply replaced.
    The 192nd was boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27th.  During this part of the trip, many tankers had seasickness, but once they recovered they spent much of the time training in breaking down machine guns, cleaning weapons, and doing KP.   They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Sunday, November 2nd and had a two day layover, so the soldiers were given shore leave so they could see the island.
    On Wednesday, November 5th, the ship sailed for Guam but took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time it was joined by, the heavy cruiser, the U.S.S. Louisville and, the transport, S.S. President Calvin Coolidge.  Sunday night, November 9th, the soldiers went to bed and when they awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11th.  During the night, while they slept, the ships had crossed the International Date Line.  On Saturday, November 15th, smoke from an unknown ship was seen on the horizon.  The Louisville revved up its engines, its bow came out of the water, and it shot off in the direction of the smoke.  It turned out the smoke was from a ship that belonged to a friendly country.
    When they arrived at Guam on Sunday, November 16th, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables before sailing for Manila the next day.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night and did so 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, and docked at Pier 7 later that morning.  At 3:00 P.M., most of the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg.  Those who drove trucks drove them to the fort, while the maintenance section remained behind at the pier to unload the tanks.
    At the fort, the tankers were met by Colonel Edward P. 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 live in tents.  The fact was he had not learned of their arrival until days before they arrived.  He made sure that they had Thanksgiving Dinner before he left to have his own dinner.
    The members of the battalion pitched the tents in an open field halfway between the Clark Field Administration Building and Fort Stotsenburg.  The tents were set up in two rows and five men were assigned to each tent.  There were two supply tents and meals were provided by food trucks stationed at the end of the rows of tents.
    For the next seventeen days the tankers spent much of their time removing cosmoline from their weapons.  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.
    After arriving in the Philippines, the process was begun to transfer D Company to the 194th Tank Battalion, which had left for the Philippines minus one company.  B Company of the battalion was sent to Alaska while the remaining companies, of the battalion, were sent to the Philippines.  The medical clerk for the192nd spent weeks organizing records to be handed over to the 194th.
    On December 1st, the tank battalions were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  The 194th, with D Company, was assigned northern part of the airfield and the 192nd guarded the southern half.  Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all times and received their meals from food trucks.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the company was brought up to full strength at the perimeter of Clark Field.  All morning long, the sky was filled with American planes.  At noon, the planes landed to be refueled and the pilots went to lunch.  The planes were parked in a straight line outside the pilots' mess hall.
    At 12:45, two formations, totaling 54 planes, approached the airfield from the north.  When bombs began exploding on the runways, the tankers knew that planes were Japanese.  Being that their tanks could not fight planes, they watched as the Japanese destroyed the Army Air Corps.
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, the dying, and the wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything else, that could carry the wounded, was in use.  When the hospital filled, they watched the medics place the wounded under the building.  Many of these men had their arms and legs missing.
    That night, most men slept under their tanks since it was safer than sleeping in their tents.  They had no idea that they had slept their last night in a bed.
    One of the results of the attack was that the transfer of D Company, to the 194th, was never completed.  The company retained its designation of being part of the 192nd for both the Battle of Luzon and the Battle of Bataan.
    The 194th, with D Company, was moved, the night of the 12th, to an area south of San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge arriving there at 6:00 A.M.  On December 13th, the tankers were moved 80 kilometers from Clark Field to do reconnaissance and to guard beaches.  On the 15th, the battalion received 15 Bren gun carriers but turned some over to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.  These were used to test the ground to see if it could support tanks.
    The tank battalions were sent to the area around the Lingayen Gulf.  The company was near a mountain, so many of the tankers climber to the top.  On the mountain, they found troops, ammunition, guns but were just sitting there watching the Japanese ships in the gulf.  They had received orders not to fire.
     The tankers walked down the mountain and waited.  They received orders to drop back from the mountain and let the Japanese occupy it.  They watched as the Japanese brought their equipment to the top of the mountain.  The Americans finally received orders to launch a counterattack which failed.
    On December 22nd, the companies were operating north of the Agno River and after the main bridge was bombed, on December 24/25, made an end tun to get south of the river and not be trapped by the Japanese.  The tanks held the south bank of the river from west of Carmen to the Carmen-Akcaka-Bautista Road with the 192nd holding the bank east of Carmen to Tayug (northeast of San Quintin).
    Christmas Day, the tankers spent in the night 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 tanks formed a new defensive held the Santa Ignacia-Gerona-Santo Tomas- San Jose line on December 26th.  When they dropped back from the line, all the platoons withdrew, except one which provided cover, as the other platoons from the area.  One tank went across the line receiving fire and firing on the Japanese.
    At Bayambang, Lt. Petree's platoon lost a tank.  It was at this time that D Company, 192nd, lost all their tanks, except one, because the bridge they were suppose to cross had been destroyed.  The company commander, Lt. Jack Altman, could not bring himself to totally destroy the tanks, and the Japanese repaired them and used them on Bataan.  The sergeant of the one tank, that had not abandoned, found a place to ford the river a few hundred yards from the bridge.
    The tankers were at Santo Tomas near Cabanatuan on December 27th, and at San Isidro south of Cabanatuan on December 28th and 29th.  On January 1st, conflicting orders were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5.  Doing this would allow the Southern Luzon Forces to withdraw toward Bataan.  General Wainwright was unaware of the orders since they came from Gen. MacArthur's chief of staff.
    Because of the orders, there was confusion among the Filipinos and American forces defending the bridges over the Pampanga River.  Due to the efforts of the Self Propelled Mounts, the 71st Field Artillery, and a frenzied attack by the 192nd Tank Battalion the Japanese were halted.  From January 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., the night of January 5th/6th, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force and using smoke as cover.  This attack was an attempt to destroy the tank battalions.  At 5:00 A.M., the Japanese withdrew having suffered heavy casualties.
    The night of January 6th/7th the tanks withdrew into the peninsula with the 192nd holding its position so that the 194th Tank Battalion could leap frog past it, cross the bridge, and then cover the 192nd's withdraw over the bridge.  The 192nd was the last American unit to enter Bataan, before the engineers blew up the bridge at 6:00 A.M.  It was at this time that the tank companies were reduced to three tanks each.  This was done to provide tanks to D Company, while those crews still without tanks were used as replacements,
    At Gumain River, on January 5th, D Company and C Company, 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.
    The night of January 6/7, the 194th, covered by the 192nd, crossed the bridge over the Culis Creek and entered Bataan.  This was the beginning of the Battle of Bataan.  At this time, the food rations were cut in half.
    General Weaver also issued the following orders to the tank battalions around this time. "Tanks will execute maximum delay, staying in position and firing at visible enemy until further delay will jeopardize withdrawal.  If a tank is immobilized, it will be fought until the close approach of the enemy, then destroyed; the crew previously taking positions outside and continuing to fight with the salvaged and personal weapons. Considerations of personal safety and expediency will not interfere with accomplishing the greatest possible delay."
     A composite tank company was created on January 8th under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Company, 192nd, and sent to defend the Wast Coast Road north of Hermosa.  Its job was to keep the north road open and prevent the Japanese from driving down the road before a new battle line had been formed.  The Japanese never lunched an attack allowing the defensive line to be formed.  The tanks withdrew after they began receiving artillery fire.
    The remainder of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Aubucay-Hacienda Road.  While there, the tank crews had their first break from action in nearly a month.  The tanks, which were long overdue for maintenance, were serviced by 17th Ordnance.  It was also at this time that tank platoons were reduced to ren tanks, with three tanks in each platoon.  This was done so that D Company, 192nd, would have tanks.
    The 194th was sent to reopen the Moron Road so that General Segunda's forces, which were trapped behind enemy lines, could withdraw.  Attempting to do this two tanks were knocked out by landmines planted by ordnance, but recovered, and a Japanese anti-tank gun was destroyed.  The mission was abandoned the next day.  Gen. Segunda's forces escaped but lost their heavy equipment.
    The next action the tanks saw was on the 20th when they were sent to relieve the 31st Infantry's command post.  On the 24th, the tanks were ordered to the Hacienda Road to support infantry, but again could not accomplish their mission because of landmines planted by ordnance.
    The 194th was holding a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road on January 26th with four self-propelled mounts.  At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino came down the road and warned the battalion that a large Japanese force was coming down the road.  When they appeared the tanks opened up on them. At 10:30, the Japanese withdrew having lost 500 of 1200 men.  This action prevented the new line of defense from being breached.
    On January 28th, the tank battalions were given the job of guarding the beaches so that the Japanese couldn't land troops.  The 194th guarded the coastline from Limay to Cabcaban.  During the day, the tanks hid under the jungle canopy.  At bight they were pulled out onto the beaches.  The battalion's half-tracks had the job of patrolling the roads. At all times, the tanks were in contact with on-shore and off-shore patrols.
    For most of March, the situation Bataan was relatively quiet and the Japanese had been fought to a standstill.  On one occasion, two tanks had gotten stuck in the mud, and the crews were working to free them.  While they were doing this, a Japanese regiment entered the area.  Lt. Colonel Ernest Miller ordered his tanks to fire on the Japanese at point blank range.  He also ran from tank to tank directing the crew's fire.  The Japanese were wiped out.  On March 21st, the last major battle was fought by the tanks.
    Having brought in combat harden troops from Singapore, the Japanese lunched a major offensive on April 4th.  The tanks were sent to various sectors in an attempt to stop the advance.  On the 6th, four tanks were sent to support the 45th Philippine Infantry, Philippine Scouts. One tank was knocked out from anti-tank fire at the junctions of Trails 6 & 8, and the other tanks withdrew.  On April 8th, the 194th was fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban.
    It was at this time that Gen. King knowing that the situation was hopeless sent officers to negotiate the surrender of Bataan.  The tanks were instructed that they would hear the order "bash" on their radios, or that it would be given to them verbally.
    When the order was given, the tankers circled their tanks, fired an armor piercing shell into the engine of the tank in front of their tank, and opened up the gasoline cocks in the crew compartments.  They dropped hand grenades into each crew compartment setting the tanks on fire.  Later in the war, the Japanese dragged the tanks out of the jungle to send to Japan as scrap metal.

    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.

    Joe and nine other men were sent to Ft. Drum, where 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, and 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.  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.
 
    Records kept by military personnel show, that at some point, Joe was transferred to Camp Murphy where the POWs were building runways and revetments.  He remained on the detail until he was selected to be transported to Japan.

    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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