Pfc. Ancel Edgar Crick

    Pfc. Ancel E. Crick was born on July 23, 1917, to Sam Crick and Zetta Mae Smith-Crick in Whitley County, Kentucky.  It is known he had four sisters and one brother.  He joined the Kentucky National Guard and was called to federal service on November 25, 1940.  During his training at Fort Knox, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was created in early 1941.

    In the late summer of 1941, Ancel took part in maneuvers in Louisiana.  It was after the maneuvers at Camp Polk, Louisiana, that he and the rest of the battalion learned that they were being sent overseas.
    Over different train routes, the 192nd traveled to San Francisco.  After receiving physicals and inoculations, they were boarded onto the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott  The ship sailed from San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, for Hawaii as part of a three ship convoy.  They arrived at Honolulu on Sunday, November 2nd.  The soldiers were given leaves so they could see the island.  On Tuesday, November 4th, the ships sailed for Guam.  At one point, the ships passed an island at night.  While they passed the island, they did so in total blackout.  This for many of the soldiers was a sign that they were being sent into harm's way. 
    When they arrived at Guam, the ships took on water, bananas, coconuts, and vegetables.  The ships sailed the same day for Manila and entered Manila Bay on Thursday, November 20th.  They docked at Pier 7 and the soldiers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg. 
    At the fort, they were greeted by Gen. Edward King.  The general apologized that the men had to live in tents along the main road between the fort and Clark Airfield.  He made sure that they all received Thanksgiving Dinner before he went to have his own. 
Ironically, November 20th was the date that the National Guard members of the battalion had expected to be released from federal service.
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.

    The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ancel and the other members of the battalion learned of the Japanese attack.  At 12:45 in the afternoon, Ancel lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.

    For the next four months, Ancel worked to supply the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion with gasoline and ammunition in the fight against the Japanese.  On April 9, 1942, Ancel learned of the surrender of Bataan to the Japanese.  He and the other members of the HQ Company remained in their bivouac for two days.

   Ancel with his company were ordered by the Japanese out to the road that passed near their bivouac.  Once on the road, they were ordered to kneel facing the center.  They also had to put all their possessions in front of them.  Japanese troops passing by, took whatever they wanted from the prisoners.

   HQ Company then boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles.  From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited.  As they sat, Ancel and the other Prisoners of War 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 there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up to the Japanese soldiers in a car.  He got out 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, Ancel was moved to a schoolyard in Mariveles.  In the schoolyard, they found themselves between Japanese artillery and guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum.  Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide.  Some of the POWs were killed from incoming shells.

    The POWs were ordered to move by the Japanese.  Ancel 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 steel boxcar and taken to Capas.  From Capas, Ancel walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.

     Camp O'Donnell was a death trap.  As many as fifty men died each day.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp.  To get out of the camp, many of the POWs volunteered to go out on work details.  It is not known what work details Ancel went out on to get out of Camp O'Donnell.

     Ancel was next held as a prisoner at Cabanatuan.  After arriving in the camp, he was sent to "Zero Ward" on July 9, 1942, suffering from malaria.  Zero Ward was the camp hospital.  It was given its name since most of the POWs who entered it did not leave alive.   No date for his release is given on the roster of POWs in the hospital.
    Ancel remained in the camp until he was selected to go out on a work detail to Nichols Field.  It is not known if he was sent there in the original POW draft, or if he was sent there as a replacement for a POW who had died or been sent to Bilibid.  This detail was also known as the Pasay School Detail.  The POWs were housed in eighteen rooms inside the school building.  30 POWs slept in each room, but no beds were provided.  Meals consisted of the scraps from the Japanese mess hall kitchen.
    To reach Nichols Airfield, the POWs marched about a mile.  As they marched in their tattered clothes and without shoes, the Filipino civilians expressed their sympathy to them.  Their doing this angered the Japanese guards.

    The POWs on the this detail built runways with picks and shovels literally leveling hills by hand.  The rubble from the hill was put into mining cars and pushed by two POWs who dumped the cars in a swamp to create landfill for the runway.    

    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.
    While he was on the detail, Ancel on a couple of occasions was sent to the hospital ward at Bilibid.  Medical records kept at the prison show he had been admitted on January 12, 1943, with pellagra.  It appears that while he was there, an appendectomy was performed before he discharged, on April 2, 1943, to Cabanatuan.  At some point he returned to Las Pinas, but was again admitted to the hospital on September 22, 1943, suffering from beriberi.  At this time, no date of discharge is known.

    On October 11, 1944, Ancel was boarded onto the Arisan Maru.  With him were Vernon Bussell, Robert Cloyd, John Cummins, John Babb, James Sallee, George Boyce, James Carter and William Jardot.  At one time or another, all these men had been members of D Company.

    The Arisan Maru set sail for Japan and took a southerly route away from Formosa.  The ship anchored in a cove off the Island of Palawan.  This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes.  The ship returned to the Manila on October 20th where it joined twelve ship convoy. 

    On October 23rd, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea.  The American submarines in the area had no idea what the cargo of the ships was, since the Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs.

     According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, near 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds.  The ship was off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel, of the South China Sea.  The Japanese on deck ran to the stem of the ship.  As they watched, a torpedo passed to the front of the ship.  The Japanese ran to the stern and watched another torpedo pass behind the ship.  There was a sudden jar caused by the ship being hit amidships by two torpedoes.  The ship stopped dead in the water.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S Snook.

    As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the holds.  The POWs in the first hold were able to climb out and attached and lowered rope ladders to those in the first hold.  They also dropped rope ladders down to the POWs in the second hold.

    Many of the POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.  Most of the POWs survived the attack but died because the Japanese refused to rescue  them.  The Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.  When POWs attempted to climb onto the a ship, the Japanese beat them with clubs until they fell off the ship.

    According to the five POWs who found an abandoned lifeboat, the Arisan Maru slowly got lower in the water.  At some point, the ship split in two.  The exact time that it sank is unknown since it sank after dark.  Cries for help could be heard from every direction.  Finally, there was silence.

    Pfc. Ancel Crick lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea.  Of the 1803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking.  Only eight men would survive to the end of the war.  Since he was lost at sea, Pfc. Ancel E. Crick's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.



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