Bataan Project

M/Sgt. William Giles Boyd


    M/Sgt. William G. Boyd was born in 1904 in Tennessee, and was the son of Hezekiah & Louise Pinkston-Giles-Boyd.  It is known he had two sisters and a brother.  When he was a child, his parents died leaving him to be raised by his grandparents in Van Zandt County, Texas. After he graduated high school, he moved to California.
    It is known that  he married Jacqueline E. Whitlock on May 4, 1929 in Santa Cruz, California.  The couple resided at 521 San Benito Street in Alisal, California, where he worked as a salesman for a dairy.  He joined the California National Guard and was called to federal duty on February 10, 1941, at Fort Lewis, Washington.
    In March, 1941, William was sent to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, to attend radio school and remained there for three months before returning to Ft. Lewis.  Upon returning to the base, he was assigned to a tank as a radioman.  In the Philippines, he would command a half-track.
    In August 1941, the decision was made at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, to send the 194th to the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer.  A squadron of American fighters were flying over Lingayen Gulf when one of the pilots noticed something odd.  He took his plane down and identified a buoy in the water.  He came upon more buoys that lined up, in a straight line, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island.  When the squadron landed he reported what he had seen.  The next morning, bby the time another squadron of planes were sent to the area, the buoys had been picked up by a fishing boat that was seen making its way to shore.  Since radio communications between the Air Corps and Navy was poor, no ship was sent to intercept the boat.  It was at that time the decision was made to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
   The battalion, minus B Company, traveled to San Francisco, California, where they were ferried to Angel Island on the U.S.A.T Gen, Frank M. Coxe,  On the island they inoculated by the battalion's medical detachment.  Those men with medical conditions were  replaced.  The turrets of the tanks were removed so that the tanks would fit in the ship's holds.  The soldiers boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge at 3:00 P.M., and the ship sailed at 9:00 that night.  The ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, at 7:00 A.M. on Saturday, September 13, and many of the soldiers were allowed to go ashore, for the day, but had to be on board before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
    After sailing, the ship took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was joined by the heavy cruiser the U.S.S. Astoria, and an unknown destroyer, which was to escort the ship to Manila.  On several occasions on the trip, the Astoria intercepted unknown ships after smoke was seen on the horizon.  Each time, the ship turned out to be from a friendly country.
It arrived at Manila on September 26 and the soldiers disembarked and were taken by bus to Ft. Sotsenburg.  The maintenance section remained behind to help 17th Ordnance, who also had sailed on the ship, unload the tanks and reattach the turrets.
   The battalion was stationed at Ft. Stostenburg near Clark Field.  On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guard the field against Japanese paratroopers.  At all times, to members of each tank and half track crew remained with their vehicle and received their meals from food trucks.
    The morning of December 8, 1941, ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the tanks of the Provisional Tank Group were ordered to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against Japanese paratroopers.  Around 12:45 in the afternoon, the tankers watched as planes approached the airfield from the north.  At first, they thought the planes were American.  It was only when bombs began exploding on the runway did the tankers know the planes were Japanese.
    When the Japanese were finished, there was not much left of the airfield.  The soldiers watched as the dead, dying, and wounded were hauled to the hospital on bomb racks, trucks, and anything 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.  They lived through two more attacks on December 10.  The night of the 12th/13th, the battalion was ordered to bivouac south of San Fernando near the Calumpit Bridge.  Attempting to move the battalion at night was a nightmare, and they finally arrived at their new bivouac at 6:00 A.M. on December 13.
    The battalion received 15 Bren Gun carriers on the 15th, and gave some to the 26th Cavalry, Philippine Scouts.  They used the carriers to test the ground to see if it was solid enough to support tanks.  They next were ordered to support the 71st Division in the area of Rosario on the 22nd, but the division's commanding officer ordered them out of the area, since he believed they would interfere with operations.
    The night of the 22nd/23rd, the battalions were operating north of the Agno River when it they found that the bridge they were suppose to use had been bombed.  On December 23 and 24, the battalion was in the area of Urdaneta and found the bridge they were going to use to cross the Agno River was destroyed.  The tankers made an end run to get south of river and ran into Japanese resistance early in the evening, but they successfully crossed at the river in the Bayambang Province.
    Later on the 24th, the battalions formed a defensive line along the southern bank of the Agno River with the tanks of the 192nd holding the Agno River from Carmen to Tayung, and the 194th holding the line on the Carmen-Alcala-Bautista Road.  The tanks held the position until 5:30 in the morning on December 27 when they withdrew, following the Philippine Army, to the Tarlec-Cabanatuan Line and was near Santo Tomas and Cabanatuan on the 28th and 29th.
    The tank battalions next covered the withdrawal of the Philippine Army at the Pampanga River.  The battalion's tanks were on both sides of the on December 31 at the Calumpit Bridge.
    On January 1, conflicting orders, about who was in command, were received by the defenders who were attempting to stop the Japanese advance down Route 5 and allowing 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 bridge over the Pampanga River about withdrawing from the bridge with half of the defenders withdrawing.  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 2nd to 4th, the 192nd held the road open from San Fernando to Dinalupihan so the southern forces could escape.
    At 2:30 A.M., on January 6, the Japanese attacked at Remlus in force using smoke which was an attempt by the Japanese to destroy the tank battalions. That night 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.
    The night of January 7, the tank battalions were covering the withdrawal of all troops around Hermosa.  Around 6:00 A.M., before the bridge had been destroyed by the engineers, the 192nd crossed the bridge.
    The next day, the battalion was between Culo and Hermosa and assigned a road to enter Bataan on which was worse than having no road.  The half-tracks kept throwing their rubber tracks and members of 17th Ordnance assigned to each battalion had to re-track them in dangerous situations.  After daylight, Japanese artillery fire was landing all around the tanks.
    The next day, a composite tank company was formed under the command of Capt. Donald Haines, B Co., 192nd.  Its job was to protect the East Coast Road north of Hermosa open and to stop Japanese tanks attempting to use it to overrun the next defensive line that was forming. While in this position, the tanks were under constant enemy artillery fire.  The rest of the tanks were ordered to bivouac south of the Abucay-Hacienda Road.
    When word came that a bridge was going to be blow, all the tanks were ordered out of the area, which included the composite company.  This could have resulted in a catastrophe, but the Japanese did not take advantage of the situation.
    The tanks bivouacked south of the Pilar-Bagac Road and about two kilometers from the East Coast Road.  It had almost been one month since the tank crews had a rest and the tanks had maintenance work done on them by 17th Ordnance.  It was also on this day that the tank platoons were reduced to three tanks per tank platoon.  The men rested and the tanks received the required maintenance.  Most of the tank tracks had worn down to bare metal and the radial engines long past their 400 hour overhauls.
    It was at this time the tank battalions received these orders which came from Gen. Weaver:  "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."
    The battalions were sent to cover the junctions of the Back Road and East Road with the Abucay-Heicienda Road on January 25.  While holding the position, the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, fought its way to the position at 3:00 A.M.  One platoon was sent to the front of the the column of trucks which were loading the troops.  The tanks provided heavy fire so that the infantry could withdraw and inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.
    Later on January 25, both the 192nd and 194th held a defensive line on the Bakanga-Cardre-BaniBani Roads until the withdraw was completed at midnight.  They held the position until the night of January 26/27, when they dropped back to a new defensive line roughly along the Pilar-Bagac Roads.  When ordered to withdraw to the new line, the 192nd found that the bridge at Balanga, that they were suppose to use had been destroyed by enemy fire.  To withdraw, they had to use secondary roads to get around the barrio and tanks were still straggling in at noon.
    The tank battalions, on January 28, were given the job of protecting the beaches, while the battalion's half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.  The Japanese later admitted that the tanks guarding the beaches prevented them from attempting landings.
    The tank battalions, on their own, took up the job of protecting the airfields at Cabcaban, Bataan, and Mariveles, since Japanese paratroopers were known to be available.  The tanks and half-tracks were well hidden in the jungle around the airfields and different plans were in place to be used against Japanese forces.  There was only one major alert in March when 73 Japanese planes came over.
    In March, the amount of gasoline was reduced to 15 gallons a day for all vehicles except the tanks.  This would later be dropped to ten gallons a day.  At the same time, food rations were cut in half again.  Also at this time, Gen. Weaver suggested to Gen. Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to Corregidor.
    The Japanese lunched an all out attack on April 3.  On April 7, the 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, supported by tanks, attempted to restore the line, but Japanese infiltrators prevented this from happening.  During this action, one tank was knocked out but the remaining tanks successfully withdrew.  C Company, 194th, which was attached to the 192nd, had only seven tanks left.
    The tanks became a favorite target of the Japanese receiving fire on trails and while hidden in the jungle. and could not fight back.  The situation was so bad that other troops avoided being near the tanks, and the 26th Cavalry turned down a tank company's offer of assistance in a counter-attack.
    On April 7, 1942, the Japanese broke through the east side of the main defensive line on Bataan.  It was the evening of April 8 that Gen. Edward P. King decided that further resistance was futile, since approximately 25% of his men were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day.  In addition, he had over 6,000 troops who sick or wounded and 40,000 civilians who he feared would be massacred.  At 10:30 that night, he sent his staff officers to negotiate surrender terms.
    Tank battalion commanders received this order: "You will make plans, to be communicated to company commanders only, and be prepared to destroy within one hour after receipt by radio, or other means, of the word 'CRASH', all tanks and combat vehicles, arms, ammunition, gas, and radios: reserving sufficient trucks to close to rear echelons as soon as accomplished." 
    The Japanese arrived the morning of April 10 and ordered the Prisoners of War to the trail that ran near the headquarters.  The trial the POWs were on ended when they reached the main road.  The first thing the Japanese did was to separate the officers from the enlisted men.  The Prisoners of War were then left in the sun for the rest of the day.  That night they were ordered north.  The members of the 194th did receive orders to march until around 7:00 P.M. and were marched until 3:00 in the morning.  At that time, the marchers were given an one hour break.  At 4:00 A.M., they began to march again.  They reached the barrio of Lamao at around 8:00 A.M. the morning of April 11. There the POWs were allowed to try to find food, but little was found.
    The POWs again were ordered to move at 9:00 A.M. and reached Limay at noon.  It was at this time the Japanese put officers, with the rank of major and higher, in trucks and drove them to to Balanga.  These officers were than marched to Orani.   For the lower ranking officers and enlisted men, Limay was where they really started the death march.  Up to this time, the guards, regular combat soldiers, had shown a great deal of respect for them.  As they got further north, and the guards were changed, the treatment got worse.
    They marched north through Orani and arrived there on the 12th.  There, at 6:30 P.M., the higher ranking officers rejoined the march.  The men noticed they were being marched at a faster pace and that the guards seemed nervous.
    The POWs made their way north to Hermosa, where the road went from gravel to pavement.  The change in surface made the march easier on the men.  When they were allowed to sit, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
    They resumed the march and at some point it began to rain.  Many of the POWs attempted to get drinks from the rain.  About 4:00 P.M., the POWs reached San Fernando amd were herded into a bullpen.  The ground was covered in human waste from previous POWs.  They next made their way to the train station.  At 4:00 in the morning, the Japanese woke the POWs and marched them to the train station and packed into boxcars that could hold forty men or eight horses.  The Japanese packed 100 POWs into each car and closed the doors.  The POWs rode the train to Capas arriving there at 9:00 A.M.  They disembarked from the cars and walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino Army training base which the Japanese put into use as a POW camp.  There was one water faucet for the entire camp, and the POWs stood in line for hours for a drink.  Since they had no medicine, the death rate among the sick rose to as many as 55 men a day.
    Bill like other POWs wanted to get out of the camp because of the number of POWs dying each day.  He volunteered to go out on a work detail to rebuild bridges.  The detail, later known as the "Lumban Bridge Detail" rebuilt bridges that had been destroyed during the American retreat for the Japanese Engineers.  This detail was also under the command of Lt. Col. Ted Wickord the commanding officer of the 192nd Tank Battalion.  The detail left Camp O'Donnell on May 10, 1942.
    Once out of the camp, the POWs were broken into four detachments of 250 men each.  Bill's detachment was sent to Calauan.  There, the POWs were amazed by the concern shown for them by the Filipino people. The townspeople arranged for their doctor and nurses to care for the POWs and give them medication.  They also arranged for the POWs to attend a meal in their honor.  At Calaian, the POWs built a wooden bridge to replace a bridge that had been destroyed.
    The detachment was next sent to Batangas to rebuild another wooden bridge.  Again, the Filipino people did all they could to see that the Americans got the food and care they needed.  Somehow the Filipinos convinced the Japanese to allow them to attend a meal to celebrate the completion of the new bridge.
   The next bridge the POWs were sent to build was in Candelaria.  Unlike the other bridges,  the original bridge was concrete and had been damaged by the shelling.  In this case the POWs mixed cement to repair the damage that was done to the bridge.
    Once again, the people of the town did what ever they could to help the Americans.  An order of Roman Catholic sisters, who had been recently freed from custody, invited Lt. Col. Wickord and twelve POWs for a dinner.  Wickord picked the twelve sickest looking POWs.
    In mid-September the detail came to an end and the POWs were taken to Cabanatuan.  This former Filipino Army Base had been converted to a POW camp to lower the death rate among the POWs.
    On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected Bill, and other POWs, for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao.  He and the other POWs were loaded onto the   Erie Maru  and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28.  A smaller group of POWs remained at Davao, at the penal colony, and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to   Lasang, on November 7th, and spent the next twenty months building runways and farming.
    The POW camp was located about 36 miles from Davao City. On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected Marshall, and other POWs, for a work detail to the Island of Mindanao.  He and the other POWs were loaded onto the   Erie Maru  and taken to Davao, Mindanao, arriving there on October 28.  A smaller group of POWs remained at Davao, at the penal colony, and worked on a farm, while the rest of the POWs were sent to   Lasang, on November 7, and spent the next twenty months building runways and farming.  The POW camp was located about 36 miles from Davao City.
    The POWs on the detail worked on a farm and built runways.  In late May 1944, the POWs heard the sound of a plane approaching the airfield.  From the sound of the engine they knew the plane was not Japanese.  When they saw the stars on the wings they wanted to cheer.  This was the first American plane they had seen in over two years.  The plane dropped bombs at the far end of the runway.
    As the American forces got closer to the Philippine Islands the Japanese began to send as many POWs to Japan or other occupied countries as possible.  On June 6, 1944, the Japanese sent the POWs to Lasang, Mindano, by truck.  Once there, the POWs were boarded onto the Yashu Maru and held in the ship's front holds for six days before it sailed .  The ship sailed on the 12th and dropped anchor off Zamboanga, Mindano, for two days before sailing for Cebu City arriving on June 17.  The POWs were taken off the ship and held in a warehouse.  The POWs were returned to the dock and boarded an unnamed ship and arrived at Manila on June 25.   It is not known if he was sent to Cabanatuan or Bilibid Prison.
    In early October, a POW draft was selected to be sent to Japan.  William's name was on the POWs scheduled to sail on the Hokusen Maru.  At the same time, another POW detachment was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru.  The Hokusen Maru was ready to sail but not all the POWs in the detachment had arrived at the pier.  Since the other POW detachment, that was scheduled to sail on the Arisan Maru, had arrived and were waiting for the ship to be ready to sail, the Japanese switched the detachments so the Hokusen Maru could sail.
    William was boarded onto the Arisan Maru on October 10. William was one of 1775 POWs who were packed into the ship's number one hold.  Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks.  These bunks were so close together that a man could not lift himself up if he was laying in one.  Those standing in the hold had no room to lie down. The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans.  Since the POWs were packed into the hold so tightly, many of the POWs could not get near the cans.  The floor of the hold was covered with human waste.
    On October 11, almost 1775 POWs were packed into the ship's number one hold.  Along the sides of the hold were shelves that served as bunks, but the bunks were so close together that a man could not lift himself up when he used one.  Those standing had no room to lie down.  The latrines for the prisoners were eight five gallon cans, which the POWs could not use since they were packed in the hold so tightly.  This resulted in the floor of the hold being covered with human waste.  Anton Cichy said, "For the first few days there were 1,800 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 together."   Calvin Graef said about the conditions in the hold, "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.  Within the first 48 hours of being boarded onto the ship, five POWs had died.  The ship anchored in a cove off Palawan Island where it remained for ten days.  The Japanese covered the hatch with a tarp.  During the night, the POWs were in total darkness.  Being anchored in the cove resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes.
    During the time off Palawan, the ship did come under attack by American planes, but no major damage was done to the ship.  Each day, each POW was received three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw rice.  Conditions in the hold were so bad, that the POWs began to develop heat blisters.  Although the Japanese had removed the lights in the hold, they had not turned off the power.  Some of the prisoners were able to hot-wire the ship's ventilation blowers into these power lines.  This allowed fresh air into the hold.  The blowers were disconnected two days later when the Japanese discovered what had been done.
    The Japanese soon 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 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.  This made the ships targets for American submarines.  The POWs in the hold were so desperate that they prayed that the ship 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."
    Cichy said, "The Japs told us that they'd be in Formosa the next day to pick up some 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 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 the POWs had been fed.  Each day, each POW received three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw rice.  The waves were high since a storm had just passed.  The ship was 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.
    As the POWs, on deck, watched, the Japanese ran to the bow of the ship and watched as a torpedo passed in front of it.  Moments later, they 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.  Cichy recalled, "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 two."  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 U.S.S. Shark.
    The guards took their rifles and used them as clubs to drive the POWs on deck into the holds.  Once in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders into the holds and put the hatch covers over the holds, but they did not tie the hatch covers down.  Cichy recalled, "The Japs closed the hatches and left the ship in lifeboats.  They must have 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 guys down below.  One of them escaped by simply walking into the water from a hole in the bulkhead.  He was Lt. Robert S. Overback, Baltimore."  Cichy added, "The Japs had already evacuated ship.  They had a destroyer off the side, and they were saving their own."
    The surviving POWs made their way onto the deck.  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."   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' disappeared."  The ship slowly sank 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."
    Oliver recalled, "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 describe it."  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.  M/Sgt. William G. Boyd was not one of them.
   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, M/Sgt. William G. Boyd's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery at Manila.

 

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