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 the 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.
A typical day for the soldiers started in 6:15 with reveille, but most of the soldiers
were up before this since they wanted to wash and dress. Breakfast was from 7:00 to 8:00 A.M., followed
by calisthenics at 8:00 to 8:30. Afterwards, the tankers went to various schools within the
company. The classes consisted of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns, pistol, map reading, care of personal
equipment, military courtesy, and training in tactics.
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
eral 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
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.
A t 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.
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
The detail was under the control of the Japanese Navy and
welfare of the POWs was of no concern to them. The only concern they had
was getting the runway built. If the number of POWs identified as being
sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school,
and select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury.
Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work. The
POWs were divided into two detachments. The first detachment drained rice
paddies and laid the ground work for the runway, while the second detachment
built the runway.
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 were housed in barracks with two tiers of bunks. They were issued Japanese clothing made of thin cloth and shoes with webbing between two toes.
Rations for the POWs were 625 grams each day. The meals included rice,
barley, and millet. If a prisoner was sick and not working, he would receive 500 grams a day, but all
prisoners received three meals a day. Breakfast was a small bowl of one of the grains, while lunch was a
bowl of rice and a different grain. Dinner was a bowl of rice, another grain, and shark-head soup.
The soup was just broth with a lot of shark head bones in it.
The POWs believed these supervisors wanted to work them to
death. At the mine, the POWs were divided among drillers, car loaders, and car pushers, with the miners
having the worst job. The work in the mine was dirty, dangerous, and difficult. Each miner was furnished a
carbide headlamp as his only lighting. A quota was set but the Japanese and the Japanese were always
raising the quota. The number of carloads mined by the men were never enough. The POWs were beaten
for not working hard enough or fast enough. Many shafts of the mine were so low that the miners had to
crawl through to get to the ore. Some shafts had standing water with threats of sudden flooding. Lighting was
poor and most areas were not even shored up to prevent cave-ins. Accidents were frequent and many POWs were
hurt. There was no gas detecting equipment and there was always the danger of setting off an explosion from
the open burning carbide headlamps.
While working in the mine from November 1944 until August 15, 1945, the
POWs were abused by the civilian foreman, Hichiro Tsuchiya, who was known to the POWs as
"Patches." Tsuchiya used any excuse to abuse the POWs. He was known to hit the POWs for no
reason in their faces and to also use a wooden club or pick axe handle. He also used a sledge hammer to hit
the POWs on their heads. His parents received a postcard from him in January 1945.
The POWs were housed in barracks with two tiers of bunks. The
barracks were not insulated and the heavy snow - which was as deep as 10 feet - served as insulation. They
were issued Japanese clothing made of thin cloth and shoes with webbing between two toes.
It was while in this camp 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, a n 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.