Pvt. George H. Boyce
| Pvt. George H.
Boyce was born in February 5, 1918, in Dewey
County, Oklahoma, and was the youngest of seven
children born to Roy and Nellie Boyce. What
is known about his early childhood was that his
mother died in 1919. By 1920, George, his
four brothers, and two sisters were living in an
orphanage in Custer County,
Oklahoma. In all likelihood, this was
done so that his father could work. He would
later live in the foster home of Mr. & Mrs. R.
B. McKinney in Hugo, Oklahoma.
On March 21, 1941, while living in Pushmataha County, George was inducted into the U. S. Army at Oklahoma City. He was then sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for basic training.
George spent the next six months training at Ft
Knox before he was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana,
where he became a member of the 753rd Tank
Battalion. While the battalion was there,
maneuvers were going on, but the battalion did
not take part in them. After the
maneuvers, the 192nd Tank Battalion, which did
take part in the maneuvers, was sent to the
base. There, they learned they were being
The reason for this move was an event
place in the
when one of
took his plane
buoy in the
He came upon
that lined up,
in a straight
line for 30
miles to the
of an Japanese
island, with a
and flew south
it was too
late to do
day, so the
next day -
when a Navy
ship was sent
to the area -
the buoys had
was at that
made to build
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. It was at that time that George and other members of D Company made the decision that they would attempt to reach Corregidor.
The men found a boat and reached
Corregidor. At some point, he and other
members of the company volunteered to go to Ft.
Drum. He remained there until Corregidor
was surrendered and was returned to
Corregidor. From there, he was sent to
The brutality shown to the POWs
the camp, a
was called the
the camp for
One day a POW
Moto was told
about the man
and came out
him to get
made to carry
the man back
to the Pasay
George remained in the Philippines until July
1944 when it became apparent that the Americans
were going to invade the Philippines. The
Japanese began transferring large numbers of
POWs to Japan or other occupied countries.
He and the other POWs were taken to Bilibid
Prison. When he arrived at the prison, he
was admitted to the hospital ward, on September
9, 1944, because he was suffering from
beriberi. How long he remained in the
hospital is not known.
On October 11, 1944, George was boarded onto the Arisan Maru. With him were Vernon Bussell, Robert Cloyd, John Cummins, John Babb, James Sallee, Ancel Crick, 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 but instead of heading for Japan, the ship took a southerly route away from Formosa. This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes. The ship dropped anchor in a cove off Palawan Island. Conditions in the hold were so bad that the POWs began to develop heat blisters. Some POWs figured out a way to hook the hold's ventilation system into its lighting system. For two days the POWs had fresh air. When the Japanese figured out what they had done, they turned off the power.
For almost ten days, George and the other prisoners were held in the ship's holds while the Japanese formed a convoy. On October 21st, the Arisan Maru returned to Manila and joined a convoy which entered the South China Sea. The ships were not marked with "red crosses" 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 dinner time, POWs were on deck preparing their evening meal. The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel. Suddenly, the POWs noticed that the guards appeared to be in a state of panic. The Americans watched as the Japanese guards ran to the bow of the ship. As the guards watched, a torpedo passed in front of the ship barely missing it. The guards then ran to the ship's stern and watched as another torpedo passed behind the ship. There then was a sudden jar which was caused by the ship being hit by two torpedoes in its mid-section. The ship stopped dead in the water. It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U. S. S Snook.
The Japanese forced the POWs back into the holds by firing on them with their guns. The guards covered the hatches with the hatch-covers, but were given the order to abandon ship before they could secure them. As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the holds. The POWs in the second hold were able to climb out and lowered a ladder and ropes to the POWs in the first hold.
Most of the POWs survived the attack but died because the Japanese refused to rescue them. A group of POWs swam to one Japanese destroyer, but they were pushed away with poles. After picking up the surviving Japanese, the Japanese destroyers deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.
The Arisan Maru sunk slowly into the water. Many of the POWs, knowing that they most likely would die, raided the ship's food lockers. They wanted to die with full stomachs. Other POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam. As darkness fell, the ship split in two.
According to the survivors of the sinking, the ship sunk sometime after dark. As the night went on, the cries for help became fewer and fewer. Finally, there was silence.
Pvt. George H. Boyce lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed and sunk in the South China Sea. Of the 1800 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking. Eight of these men survived the war.
Since he was lost at sea, Pvt. George H. Boyce's
name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing
at the American
Military Cemetery outside of Manila.