Cpl. Hays C. Campbell
| Cpl. Hays C. Campbell was born
on September 28, 1921, in Leslie County, Kentucky,
to Frank Campbell & Lettie Couch-Campbell.
He enlisted in the U. S. Army on October 17, 1939,
and did his basic training at Fort Knox,
Kentucky. According to U. S. Army records, he
was from Henderson County, Kentucky.
At Fort Knox, Kentucky, Hays was assigned to 19th Ordnance Battalion. The battalion's job was to repair and supply tanks. During his training, he learned his job by working on the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion. At some point, his company was renamed 17th Ordnance Company.
In the September 1941, Hays' company was sent to the
Philippine Islands. They boarded the U.S.S.
Calvin Cooledge on September 8th and the ship
sailed at 9:00 P.M. On September 13th, the
ship arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, at 7:00 A.M.
The soldiers were given shore leave but had to be
back on the ship before it sailed at 5:00 P.M.
The ship arrived at Manila on Friday, September
26th. While most of those on the ship
disembarked and took buses to Ft. Stostenburg, the
members of 17th Ordnance remained at Pier 7 and
unloaded the tanks of the 194th Tank
Battalion. They also reattached the turrets to
the tanks which had been removed so the tanks would
fit in the ship's holds. After they were
finished, they rode buses to Ft. Stostenburg.
Hays lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield. He and the other members of 17th Ordnance watched as the Japanese wiped out the Army Air Corps.
On April 9, 1942, Hays became a Prisoner of War. He took part in the Death March from Mariveles to Capas. At Capas, he and the other prisoners were crammed into small wooden boxcars and transported to San Fernando. From there, they walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
On July 1, 1942, Hays and other POWs were transferred from Cabanatuan to Davao. The POWs were boarded onto the Interisland Steamer and taken to the Island of Mindanao. James was part of a work detail of POWs building runways at a Japanese airfield near Lasang, Mindanao.
On October 26, 1942, the Japanese selected James 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 28th. When the camp was closed, one 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. Some of the POWs were sent to Manila on June 6, 1944, Hays was one of these POWs. It is believed he was returned to Cabanatuan.
When it became apparent to the Japanese that it was just a matter of time before American forces would be invading the Philippine Islands, the Japanese began transferring the POWs to other parts of the Japanese Empire.
Hays with other prisoners were marched to the Port Area of Manila. His group was scheduled to sail on the Hokusen Maru, but since all the POWs had not arrived at the pier and the ship was ready to sail, the POWs from another group were boarded in their place.
Hays' detachment of POWs were boarded onto the Arisan Maru on October 11th. The ship sailed but instead of heading to Japan, it headed south to Palawan Island. In a cove off the island, the ship hid from American planes. During this time, the ship was attacked by American planes.
The POWs in the hold discovered that the Japanese had removed the lights from the hold, but that they had not turned off the power. Some of the prisoners hotwired the ventilation system into the lighting system. For several days the POWs had fresh air. When the Japanese discovered what had been done, they cut off the power.
A few days later, the Japanese realized that unless they did something many of the POWs would die. To solve the problem, the Japanese transferred POWs into the ship's number two hold. During the transfer one POW attempted to escape and was shot.
On October 20th, the ship returned to Manila. The next day, October 21, 1944, the Arisan Maru sailed for Takao, Formosa, as part of a twelve ship convoy. On Tuesday, October 24th, the ship was in the Bashi Channel of the South China Sea.
That evening, twenty POWs were on deck preparing dinner. Suddenly, the Japanese on deck ran toward the bow of the ship and watched a torpedo pass in front of it. Moments later the Japanese ran to the stern of the ship as another torpedo missed the ship.
The ship shook and came to a dead stop in the water. It had been hit by two torpedoes amidships. A Japanese guard aimed his machinegun at the POWs and fired at them. The POWs dove into the ship's holds. After they were in the holds, the Japanese put the hatch covers on but did not tie them down. A short time later, the Japanese abandoned ship. Before they left, they cut the rope ladders hanging down into the holds.
Since the hatch covers had not been tied down, some of the POWs in the second hold made their way back on deck. These men reattached and dropped rope ladders to the men in the holds. For the next two hours, the ship remained afloat. The POWs who could not swim stuffed themselves with food from the ship's kitchen. Others attempted to find anything that would float. 35 POWs swam to another Japanese ship, but they were pushed away with poles and hit with clubs.
As the ship sank lower in the water, many POWs tried to escape. At some point, the ship split in two. Three of the POWs found a lifeboat that had been abandoned by the Japanese. A Japanese destroyer approached the boat and aim one of its guns at it. The POWs played dead and the destroyer left without firing a shot. Since the boat had no oars, the POWs could not maneuver it to rescue other POWs. The next morning they would pull two more men into the boat.
A Japanese destroyer came near to the boat and looked like it was about to open fire on it. The POWs played dead and at the last second it turned away. The men in the boats listened to the cries for help. As time went on, there were fewer cries. Then there was silence.
Of the 1803 men who boarded the Arisan Maru, only nine survived its sinking. Eight of these men survived the war. Pvt. Hays Campbell was not one of them.
Since he was lost at sea, Pvt. Hays Campbell's name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside Manila.