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 sent overseas.
Since the battalion was made up of National Guard tank companies, the army allowed men 29
years old or older to resign from federal service. George either volunteered or had his name drawn to
join the battalion to replace a National Guardsman and was assigned to D Company.
The decision for this move - which had been made on August 15,
1941 - was the result of an event that took place in the summer of 1941. A squadron of American fighters
was flying over Lingayen Gulf, in the Philippines, when one of the pilots, who was flying at a lower altitude,
noticed something odd. He took his plane down and identified a flagged buoy in the water and saw another in
the distance. 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 which was hundred of miles away. The island had a large radio
transmitter. The squadron continued its flight plan south to Mariveles and returned to Clark Field.
When the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day. The next
day, when another squadron was sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat - with a tarp on
its deck - which was seen making its way to shore. Since communication between the Air Corps and Navy
was difficult, the boat escaped. It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American
military presence in the Philippines.
The battalion's new tanks came from the 753rd Tank Battalion and were loaded onto
flat cars, on different trains. The soldiers also cosmolined anything that they thought would rust.
Over different train routes, the companies were sent to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried, by
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island. On the island, they were given
physicals by the battalion's medical detachment and men found with minor medical conditions were held on the
island and scheduled to rejoin the battalion at a later date. Other men were simply replaced.
The 192nd was boarded onto the
U.S.A.T. Gen. Hugh L. Scott and sailed on Monday, October 27. 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 5, 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 9, the soldiers went to bed and when they
awoke the next morning, it was Tuesday, November 11. During the night, while they slept, the ships had
crossed the International Date Line. On Saturday, November 15, 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 16, 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 20, 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 13, 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
On December 22, 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
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 2
to 4, 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 6/7 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
At Gumain River, on January 5, 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
: "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. It
was at that time that George and other members of D Company made the decision that they would attempt to reach
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 Cabanatuan.
After being returned to Luzon, he and other members were marched through Manila to
Bilibid Prison. From there, they were sent to Cabanatuan. It is known that George went out on the
work detail to Nichols 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 in the morning, 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.
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.
In early October, his name appeared on a roster of POWs who were being sent to
Japan. He and the other prisoners were taken to Pier 7 in the Port Area of Manila. The ship the POWs
were scheduled to sail on, the
Hokusan Maru, was ready to sail but not all the POWs had arrived at the dock. The Japanese had
another POW detachment on the pier which was also ready to sail. So that the ship could leave, the Japanese
swapped POW detachments.
On October 10, the POWs boarded the
Arisan Maru and 1775 prisoners were crammed into the first hold of the ship which could hold 400
men. They were packed in so tightly that they could not move. Those POWs who had lain down in the
wooden bunks along the haul could not sit up because the bunks were so close together. Eight large cans
served as the washroom facilities for the POWs.
Anton Cichy stated
, "For the first few days, there were 1800 of us together in one hold. I don't know how big
the hold was but we had to take turns to sit down. We were just kind of stuck there."
Calvin Graef said
, "We were packed in so tight most men couldn't get near the cans. And, of course, it was a
physical impossibility for the sick in the back of the hold, the men suffering the tortures of diarrhea and
dysentery. We waded in fecal matter. Most of the men went naked. The place was alive with
lice, bedbugs and roaches; the filth and stench were beyond description."
On October 11, the ship set sail but took a southerly route away from Formosa. The ship
anchored in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained for ten days. The Japanese covered the hatch with a
tarp so during the night, the POWs were in total darkness. Within the first 48 hours, five POWs had
died. Being in the cove resulted in the ship missing an air raid by American planes, but the ship was
attacked once by American planes while there.
Each day, each POW was given three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw rice.
Although the Japanese had removed the lights in the hold, they had not turned off the power to the lights.
Some of the prisoners were able to hot-wire the ship's blowers into the light power lines. This allowed
fresh air into the hold, until the power was disconnected, two days later, when the Japanese discovered what had
After this was done, the POWs began to develop heat blisters. The Japanese
realized that if they did not do something many of the POWs would die. To prevent this, they opened the
ship's number two hold and transferred 600 POWs into it. At this point, one POW was shot while
attempting to escape.
Of this time, Graef said
, "As we moved through the tropical waters, the heat down in the steel-encased hell hole was
maddening. We were allowed three ounces of water per man every 24 hours. Quarts were needed under
these conditions, to keep a man from dehydrating.
"While men were dying of thirst, Jap guards--heaping insults on us--would empty five
gallon tins of fresh water into the hold. Men caught the water in pieces of clothing and sucked the cloth
dry. Men licked their wet skins. It was hell all right. Men went mad."
The Arisan Maru returned to Manila on October 20, where it joined a twelve ship
convoy. On October 21, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea. The Japanese refused
to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs making them targets for American
submarines. In addition, U.S. Military Intelligence was reading the Japanese messages as fast as the
Japanese. To protect this secret, they did not tell the submarine crews that ships were carrying POWs
which made the ships targets for the submarines. The POWs in the hold became so desperate that they
prayed for the ship to be hit by torpedoes.
Graef described the deaths of the POWs hold.
"There were so many (that died) out 1800. The conditions in the hold.....men were just dying in
a continuous stream. Men, holding their bellies in interlocked arms, stood up, screamed and died.
You were being starved, men wee dying at such a pace we had to pile them up. It was like you were
choking to death. Burial consisted of two men throwing another overboard."
, "The Japs told us that they'd be in Formosa the next day to pick up cargo. They had to
make room on deck so they tossed a whole bunch of life preservers down into the hold. I held onto one,
but I didn't think anything about it."
It was about 4:00 P.M. on October 24, and ten POWs were on deck preparing dinner for the POWs in
the ship's holds. About half of the POWs had been fed. The waves were high since the ship had
been through a storm in the Bashi Channel of the South China Sea. Suddenly, bells and sirens sounded
warning of submarines. The POWs in the holds chanted for the submarine to sink the ship.
At about 4:50 P.M., as the POWs watched, the Japanese ran to the bow of the ship and a
torpedo passed in front of the ship. Moments later, the Japanese ran to the ship's stern and watched
as a second torpedo passed behind the ship. There was a sudden jar and the ship stopped dead in the
water. It had been hit by two torpedoes, amidships, in its third hold where there were no POWs.
At first the POWs cheered wildly until they realized they were facing death.
, "When the torpedo hit everybody in the hold hollered 'Hit her again!'
We wanted to get it over with." Lt. Robert S. Overbeck recalled
, "When the torpedoing happened, most of the Americans didn't care a bit--they were tired and
weak and sick."
He also said
, "The third torpedo struck squarely amidships and buckled the vessel but it didn't break in
Overbeck also commented on the reaction of the POWs in the holds.
"For about five second there was panic among us, but there were five or six chaplains who prayed
fervently and quieted the men. By then the Nips--300 of them on deck--were scurrying about, scared as
hell. The boilers exploded. I don't think any of us got hurt in the torpedoing or the
explosion. Most of the prisoners were American, with a few British. The Japs took the two
lifeboats aboard as all 300 abandoned ship. That was about 5:00 P.M."
It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was either the
U.S.S. Snook or
The guards began to beat the POWs on deck with their guns to chase them back into the
holds. Once they had, they put the hatch covers on the hatches, but because they had been ordered to
abandon ship, never tied them down. Cichy said
,"The Japs closed the hatched and left the ship in lifeboats. They must of forgot about the
prisoners on deck who had been cooking. When the Japs were off the boat, the cooks opened the hatches
and told us to come up. I was just under the deck, but there were a lot of the guys down below.
One of them escaped by simply walking into the water from a hole in the bulkhead. He was Lt. Robert S.
, "The Japs had already evacuated ship. They had a destroyer off the side, and they were saving
The POWs left the holds but made no attempt to abandon ship. On the ship's
deck an American major spoke to the POWs, he said
, "Boys, we're in a hellva a jam - but we've been in jams before. Remember just one
thing: We're American soldiers. Let's play it that way to the very end of the script."
Right after he spoke, a chaplain said to them
, "Oh Lord, if it be thy will to take us now, give us the strength to be men."
The ship sank lower into the water. Overbeck also stated
,"We broke into the ship's stores to get food, cigarettes, and water -- mainly water, we were so
thirsty. All of us figured we were going to die anyway. The Japs ships, except for the
destroyers, had disappeared. All we had were life belts which the Japanese had fortunately thrown down
the hold the day before.
"But as darkness settled and our hopes for life flickered, we felt absolutely no
resentment for the Allied submarine that had sent the torpedo crashing in. We knew they could not
tell who was aboard the freighter, and as far as the Navy could have known the ship could have been
carrying Jap troops. The men were brave and none complained.
"Some slipped off their life preservers and with a cherry 'so long'
The ship slowly sank lower in the water.
According to surviving POWs, the ship stayed afloat for hours but got lower in the
water. At one point, the stern of the ship began going under which caused the ship to split in half but the
halves remained afloat. Most of the POWs were still on deck even after it became apparent that the ship was
sinking. Some POWs attempted to escape by putting on lifebelts, clinging to hatch covers, rafts, and other
flotsam and jetsam. When they reached other Japanese ships, the Japanese pushed them away with poles.
Glenn Oliver said
, "They weren't picking up Americans. A lot of the prisoners were swimming for the destroyer,
but the Japanese were pushing them back into the water."
, "I could see people still on the ship when it went down. I could see people against the
skyline, just standing there."
In the water, he watched as the ship went under.
"I kept getting bumped by guys wearing life jackets. Nobody wanted to share my planks. I
didn't ask them."
Three POWs found an abandoned life boat and managed to climb in but found it had no
oars. With the rough seas, they could not maneuver it to help other POWs. According to the survivors,
the Arisan Maru and sank sometime after dark on Tuesday, October 24, 1944. Oliver, who was not in the boat,
stated he heard men using what he called "GI whistles" to contact each other.
"They were blowing these GI whistles in the night. This weird moaning sound. I can't
The next morning there were just waves. Olvier and three other POWs were picked up by a
Japanese destroyer and taken to Formosa. They later were sent by ship to Japan. The men in the boat
picked up two more survivors and later made it to China and freedom. Pvt. George H. Boyce was not one of
On October 26, 1945, his family received this message:
"The information available to the war department is that the vessel sailed from Manila on
October 11, 1944, with 1775 prisoners of war aboard. On October 24 the vessel was sunk by submarine
action in the south China Sea over 200 miles from the Chinese coast which was the nearest land. Five of
the prisoners escaped in a small boat and reached the coast. Four others have been reported as picked
up by the Japanese by whom all others aboard are reported lost. Absence of detailed information as to
what happened to the other individual prisoners and known circumstances of the incident lead to a
conclusion that all other prisoners listed by the Japanese as aboard the vessel perished."
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.
It should be noted that on the Tablets, it shows that George was a member of the 194th
Tank Battalion. Although D Company was attached to the 194th, it was never officially transferred to the
battalion and remained a part of the 192nd Tank Battalion throughout the Battle of Bataan.