|2nd Lt. Archibald
2nd Lt. Archibald B. Rue was born on January 2, 1916,
to Insco and Lotta Forbes-Rue. He was the sixth
child born to the couple. With his seven sisters
and five brothers, he grew up in Harrodsburg, Kentucky
and attended local schools. Arch joined the
Kentucky National Guard with his brother, Edwin.
While he was working in a drug store, he was called to federal service on November 25, 1941, with his tank company. He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for nearly a year and then took part in maneuvers in Louisiana. It was after these maneuvers at Camp Polk that he learned his battalion was being sent overseas.
After receiving a leave home, Archie returned to Louisiana. By train, the members of D Company went west to San Francisco. They were than taken by ferry to Angel Island. After receiving physicals and shots they were boarded, the U.S.A.T. Hugh L. Scott, and sailed for the Philippine Islands.
The ship sailed from San Francisco, on Monday, October 27, 1941, as part of a three ship convoy. The ships arrived in Hawaii on Sunday, November 2nd, and remained for two days. The ships sailed on Tuesday, November 4th, and stopped at Guam. During their time there the ship was loaded with bananas, coconuts, water, and vegetables. It sailed the next day and arrived in Manila, after a stop at Guam, on Thursday, November 20th, which was Thanksgiving. The tankers were taken by bus to Ft. Stotsenburg where their Thanksgiving dinner was waiting.
The 192nd arrived in the Philippines and were housed in tents along the main road between Ft. Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield. It was at this time that D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion. At this time, Arch was assigned to A Company, of the 194th.
The morning of December 8, 1941, the soldiers were informed of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. They were then ordered to take their tanks to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.
Around 12:45 in the afternoon, planes approached the airfield. At first, the tankers thought that they were American. It was only after bombs began exploding that they knew the planes were Japanese. Since their tanks had few weapons that could be used against planes, most of the tankers could only take cover and watch the battle.
For the next four months, Arch fought to slow the Japanese conquest of the Philippine Islands. On April 9, 1941, he became a Prisoner of War.
Arch took part in the death march and was held as a POW at Camp O'Donnell. The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army training Base that the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp. There was only one water spigot for the entire camp. Men literally died for a drink. Since there was little medicine to treat the ill, disease ran wild in the camp. As many as 55 men died each day. The burial detail worked constantly to bury the dead.
The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan. Being one of the healthier POWs, Arch was sent to the camp and assigned to Barracks #29. While in the camp, on Friday, November 20, 1942, he was admitted into the camp's hospital diphtheria, pellagra, and Xerophthalmia which is a dryness of the cornea of the eye which is a result of the lack of vitamin A. He remained in the hospital until Sunday, January 31, 1943. Medical records show that he was readmitted to the hospital on April 3, 1943, but no medical reason or discharge date is given.
It should be mentioned that his mother received a letter from him, the last week of August 1944, while he was still at Cabanatuan. On September 25, 1944, he was sent to Bilibid Prison as the Japanese prepared to send him and other prisoners to Japan. This was the processing center for POWs being sent to Japan or other occupied countries. He was given a physical and declared healthy enough to be sent to Japan.
On December 8th, the Japanese gave orders to the medical staff at Bilibid to make a list of POWs healthy enough to survive a trip to Japan. Archie's name was put on the list.
On December 12, 1944, roll call was taken and the names of the men selected for transport to Japan were called. The POWs went through what was a farce of an inspection. They were told cigarettes, soap, and salt would be issued. The POWs were also told that they would also receive a meal to eat and one to take with them. The Japanese stated they would leave by 7:00 in the morning, so the lights were left on all night. At 4:00 a.m. the morning of December 13th, the other POWs were awakened.
By 8:00, the POWs were lined up and roll call was taken of the men who had been selected for transport to Japan. The prisoners were allowed to roam the compound until they were told to "fall-in." The men were fed a meal and then marched to Pier 7 in Manila. During the march down Luzon Boulevard, the POWs saw that the street cars had stopped running and many things were in disrepair.
At the harbor, the POWs saw that American bombers were doing a job on the Japanese transports. There were at least forty wrecked ships in the bay. When the POWs reached Pier 7, there were three ships docked. One was a run down ship, the other two were large and in good shape. They soon discovered that one of the two nicer ships was theirs. Arch was put into the ship's forward hold.
The POWs were allowed to sit. Many fell asleep and slept to around 3:45. About 5:00 P.M., the POWs were boarded onto the Oryoku Maru for transport to Japan. When he boarded, he was put in the ship's forward hold.
The ship left Manila on December 14th, at about 3:30 AM, as part of the MATA-37 a convoy bound for Takao, Formosa. By the swells in the water, the POWs could tell that the ship was in open water.
The POWs received their first meal at about 3:30 that afternoon. Meals on the ship consisted of a little rice, fish, and water. Three fourths of a cup of water was shared by twenty POWs. The prisoners had just eaten when they heard the sounds of guns. At first, they thought the gun crews were just drilling since they had not heard any planes. It was only when the first bomb hit that they knew it was no drill. The waves caused by the explosions caused the ship to rock.
The POWs heard the change in the planes' engines sound as they began their dive toward the ships in the convoy. Explosions were taking place all around the ship. Bullets from the planes ricocheted in to the hold causing many casualties. The one result of the raid was no evening meal. The POWs in the holds lived through seventeen attacks from American planes before sunset.
After the first air raid, the ship was left alone by "playing possum" in the water. The fighters went after the other ships in the convoy. At 4:30 in the afternoon, the ship experienced its worse attack. It was hit at least three times, by bombs, on its bridge and stern. Most of the POWs, who were wounded, were wounded by ricocheting bullets or shrapnel from explosions. Bombs that exploded near the ship sent torrents of water over it. Bullets from the fighters hit the metal hull plates at an angle that prevented most from penetrating. Somewhere on the ship a fire had started but was put out after several hours.
Sometime after midnight, the POWs heard noise on deck as women and children were unloaded. During the night, the medics in the ship's hold were ordered out by a Japanese officer to tend to the Japanese wounded. One of the medics recalled that the dead, dying and wounded were everywhere.
In the hold, the moaning and muttering of men who were losing their minds kept the POWs up all night. That night 25 POWs died in the hold. The ship reached Subic Bay at 2:30 in the morning. It was a suitable landing place. The ship steamed in closer to the beach and its anchor was dropped. The POWs were told, at 4:00 in the morning, that they would be disembarked after daybreak. It was December 15th.
The POWs sat in the holds when the sound of planes was heard. They would live through three more attacks. When the U.S. Navy planes resumed their attack, the attacks came in waves. The POWs noted that attacks were heavier than the day before.
After sitting in the holds for several hours after sunrise, a Japanese guard yelled to the POWs, "All go home; Speedo!" He also shouted that the wounded would be the first evacuated. As the POWs were abandoning ship, the planes returned. The pilots of the planes had no idea that the ship was carrying prisoners.
In the holds the POWs crowded together. Chips of rust fell on them from the ceiling. After the raid, they took care of the wounded before the next attack started. A Catholic priest, Fr. Duffy, began praying, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do." The ship bounced in the water from the explosions. Overall, six bombs hit the ship. One hit the stern of the ship killing many.
About a half hour later, the ship's stern started to really burn. Arch made his way on deck and went over the side. As he swam to shore, near Olongapo, Subic Bay, Luzon, which was about 300 to 400 yards away, Japanese soldiers fired on the POWs to keep them in the water so they would not escape. Once on shore they were herded onto a tennis court at the Olongapo Naval Station.
While the POWs were at naval station, a Japanese officer, Lt. Junsaburo Toshio, told the ranking American officer, Lt. Col. E. Carl Engelhart, that those too badly wounded to continue the trip would be returned to Bilibid. Fifteen men were selected and loaded onto a truck. They were taken into the mountains and never seen again. It was learned later that they had been taken to a cemetery and executed and buried at the cemetery.
The POWs remained on the tennis court for nine days. During that time, they were given water but not fed. The POW also watched as American planes attacked the area around them. The men watched as the fighter bombers came in vertically releasing bombs as they pulled out of their dives. On several occasions, the planes dove right at the POWs, dropped their bombs, and pulled out. The bombs drifted over the POWs and landed away from them exploding on contact.
Since the POWs had no place to hide, they watched and enjoyed the show. They believed that the pilots knew they were Americans but had no way of knowing if this was true. But what is known is that not one bomb was dropped on them even though they could be seen from the planes.
The evening of December 16th, the Japanese brought 50 kilo bags of rice for the POWs. About half of the rice had fallen out of the bags because of holes. Each POW was given three spoons of raw rice, and a quarter of a spoon of salt.
At 8:00 A.M. on the morning of December 22nd, 22 trucks arrived at the tennis court. Rumors flew on where they were going to be taken. At about 4:00 PM, a Taiwanese guard told the POWs, in broken English, "No go Cabanatuan. Go Manila; maybe Bilibid." The guard knew as little as the POWs. The POWs were taken by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga, arriving there about four or five in the afternoon. Once there, they were put in a movie theater. Since it was dark, the POWs saw it as a dungeon.
During their time at San Fernando, Pampanga, the POWs lived through several air raids. The reason for the air raids was the barrio was military headquarters for the area. Most of the civilians had been moved out of the barrio. Many of the Americans began to believe they had been taken there so that they would be killed by their own countrymen.
December 23rd, at about 10:00 PM, the Japanese interpreter came and spoke to the ranking American officer about moving the POWs. The Japanese loaded the seriously ill POWs into a truck. Those remaining behind believed they were taken to Bilibid. The remaining POWs were moved to a trade school building in the barrio.
After 10:00 AM on December 24th, the POWs were taken to the train station. The POWs saw that the station had been hit by bombings and that the cars they were to board had bullet holes in them from strafing. 180 to 200 were packed into steel boxcars with four guards also in the cars. The doors of the boxcars were kept closed and the heat in the cars was terrible. Ten to fifteen POWs rode on the roofs of each car along with two guards. The guards told these POWs that it was okay to wave to the American planes.
On December 25th, the POWs disembarked at San Fernando, La Union, at 2:00 AM. They walked two kilometers to a school yard on the southern outskirts of the barrio. The POWs were held in the school house overnight. The morning of December 26th, the POWs were marched to a beach. During this time the prisoners were allowed one handful of rice and a canteen of water. The heat from the sun was so bad that men drank seawater. Many of those men died.
The remaining prisoners where put on barges and boarded onto another "Hell Ship" the Enoura Maru. On this ship, the POWs were held in three different holds. The ship had been used to haul cattle, and the POWs were held in the same stalls that the cattle had been held in. In the hold, the POWs were lined up in companies of 108 men. Each man had four feet of space. Men who attempted to get fresh air by climbing the ladders were shot by the guards.
The daily routine for the POWs on the ship was to have six men climb out of the hold. Once on deck, they used ropes to pull up the dead and also pull up the human waste in buckets. Afterwards, the men would lower ten buckets containing rice, soup, and tea.
During the night of December 30th, the POWs heard the sound of depth charges exploding in the water. The ship arrived at Takao, Formosa, on December 31st and docked around 11:30 AM. After arriving at Takao, each POW received a six inch long, 3/4 inch wide piece hardtack to eat. This was the first bread they had since receiving crackers in their Red Cross packages in 1942.
While in the harbor, the POWs received little water. From January 1st through the 5th, the POWs received one meal and day. This resulted in the death rate among the POWs to rise. On January 6th, the POWs began to receive two meals a day.
The Enoura Maru came under attack by American planes the morning of January 9th. The POWs were receiving their first meal of the day, when the sound of ship's machine guns was heard. The explosions of bombs falling closer and closer to the ship were also heard. The waves created from the explosions rocked the ship.
One bomb that hit the ship exploded in the corner of the forward hold killing 285 prisoners. The surviving POWs remained in in the hold for three days with the dead. The stench from the dead filled the air. On January 11th a work detail was formed and about half the dead were removed from the hold. The detail took the corpses to a large furnace where they were cremated. These men reported that 150 POWs had been cremated. Their ashes were buried in a large urn. Later in the day, the survivors of the forward hold were moved into another hold.
The Japanese also sent medics into the holds to treat the wounded. If the man was determined to be too badly wounded, they left him to die. Another was formed to remove the remaining bodies from the ship. These bodies were taken ashore and buried in a mass grave. After the war, the remains were moved to Hawaii.
On January 13th, the surviving POWs were boarded onto a third "Hell Ship" the Brazil Maru. On the ship, the POWs found they had more room and were actually issued lifejackets. The ship sailed for Japan on January 14th as part of a convoy and arrived in Moji, Japan, on January 29, 1945. During this part of the trip, as many as 30 POWs died each day. The ship also towed one or two other ships which had been damaged. Of the original 1619 men that boarded the Oryoku Maru, only 459 of the POWs had survived the trip to Japan.
According to military records, Arch became ill and was sent to Kokura Hospital which was also known as Moji Hospital. It was there that he was reported to have died from acute colitis on Wednesday, January 31, 1945. Officially, 2nd Lt. Archibald B. Rue is reported to have died at Fukuoka #22. He body was most likely cremated.
After the war his remains were returned to Manila. At the request of his family, the remains of 2nd Lt. Archibald B. Rue were returned to the United States. He was buried on November 5, 1948, in Section 12, Site 5220, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
In November 1984, during a ceremony where members of D and HQ Company received Bronze Stars, Edwin Rue remembered his brother, Arch. He said, "I have a fond memory of him. He was younger than I, and he was always little brother. But he was quite a soldier." Edwin had tried to get his brother to go with him to Japan. He said, "He said he wanted to take his chances in the Philippines. We were separated then and I never did get to see him again."
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