Pfc. Ancel Edgar Crick
Pfc. Ancel E. Crick was born on July 23, 1917, to Sam Crick and Zetta Mae Smith-Crick in Whitley County, Kentucky. It is known he had four sisters and one brother. He joined the Kentucky National Guard and was called to federal service on November 25, 1940. During his training at Fort Knox, he was transferred to Headquarters Company when it was created in early 1941.
In the late
summer of 1941, Ancel took part in maneuvers in
Louisiana. It was after the maneuvers at
Camp Polk, Louisiana, that he and the rest of the
battalion learned that they were being sent
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ancel and the other members of the battalion learned of the Japanese attack. At 12:45 in the afternoon, they lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
For the next four months, Ancel worked to supply the tanks of the 192nd Tank Battalion with gasoline and ammunition in the fight against the Japanese. The evening of April 8, 1942, Capt. Fred Bruni, HQ's commanding officer, gave his men the news of the surrender. While informing the members of the company of the surrender, he waved his arm toward the tanks and told the men that they would no longer need them. As he spoke, his voice choked. He turned away from the men for a moment, and when he turned back he continued. He next told the sergeants what they should do to disable the tanks. During the announcement, Bruni emphasized that they all were to surrender together. He told the soldiers to destroy their weapons and any supplies that could be used by the Japanese. The only thing they were told not to destroy were the company's trucks. The men waited in their bivouac until ordered to move. Somehow, Bruni had found enough bread and pineapple juice for what he called, "Their last supper."
On April 11, the first Japanese soldiers appeared at HQ company's encampment. Donald was now a Prisoner of War. A Japanese officer ordered the company, with their possessions, out onto the road that ran in front of their encampment. Once on the road, the soldiers were ordered to kneel along the sides of the road with their possessions in front of them. As they knelt, the Japanese soldiers, who were passing them, went through their possessions and took whatever they wanted from the Americans. They remained along the sides of the road for hours.
HQ Company then boarded trucks and drove to Mariveles. From there, they walked to Mariveles Airfield and sat and waited. As they sat, the POWs noticed a line of Japanese soldiers forming across from them. They soon realized that this was a firing squad and the Japanese were going to kill them.
As they sat there watching and waiting to see what the Japanese intended to do, a Japanese officer pulled up to the soldiers in a car. He got out and spoke to the sergeant in charge of the detail. The officer got back in the car and drove off. While he was driving away, the sergeant ordered the soldiers to lower their guns.
Later in the day, the men were moved to a schoolyard in Mariveles. In the schoolyard, they found themselves between Japanese artillery and the guns firing from Corregidor and Ft. Drum. Shells began landing among the POWs who had no place to hide. Some of the POWs were killed from incoming shells.
The POWs were ordered to move and had no idea that they had started what became known as the death march. During the march they received no water and little food. At San Fernando, he was put into a wooden boxcar known as a "Forty or Eight," since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The POWs were packed in so tightly that those who died remained standing until the living left the cars at Capas and walked the last few miles to Camp O'Donnell.
was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base that
the Japanese pressed into use as a POW camp on
April 1, 1942. When they arrived at the
camp, the Japanese confiscated any extra clothing
that the POWs had and refused to return it to
them. They searched the POWs and if a man
was found to have Japanese money on them, they
were taken to the guardhouse. Over the next
several days, gunshots were heard to the southeast
of the camp. These POWs had been executed
The POWs on the this detail built
runways with picks and shovels literally leveling
hills by hand. The rubble from the hill was
put into mining cars and pushed by two POWs who
dumped the cars in a swamp to create landfill for
shown to the POWs
The first Japanese
commander of the
camp, a Lt. Moto,
was called the
because he wore a
was commander of
the camp for
day a POW
working on the
was told about the
man and came out
and ordered him to
get up. When
he couldn't four
were made to carry
the man back to
On October 11, 1944, Ancel was boarded onto the Arisan Maru. With him were Vernon Bussell, Robert Cloyd, John Cummins, John Babb, James Sallee, George Boyce, James Carter and William Jardot. At one time or another, all these men had been members of D Company.
Maru set sail for Japan and took a southerly
route away from Formosa and dropped anchor in a
cove off the Island of Palawan. This
resulted in the ship missing an air attack by
American planes. It should be mentioned that
the POWs lived through one attack, by American
planes, while in the cove.
days, John and the other prisoners were held in
the ship's holds while the Japanese formed a
convoy. By this time, the men began to pray
that the ship would be sunk by an American
submarine. To relieve the situation, some
resourceful prisoners hooked up the hold's blowers
to an electrical line for the hold's lights.
The Japanese had removed the light bulbs but had
not turned off the power. Doing this brought
fresh air into the hold. Two days later, the
Japanese discovered what had been done and cut the
power. Conditions became so bad that
the POWs developed heat blisters. The
Japanese finally acknowledge the conditions and
opened the ship's second hold. Six hundred
POWs were transferred the hold which was partially
filled with coal.
The ship returned to the Manila on October 20th where it joined twelve ship convoy. On October 23rd, the convoy left Manila and entered the South China Sea. The American submarines, in the area, had no idea what the cargo of the ships was, since the Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs.
the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on
Tuesday, October 24, 1944, near 5:00 P.M., POWs
were on deck preparing the meal for those in the
ship's two holds. About half the POWs had
been fed. The waves were high since a storm
had just passed. The ship was off the coast
of China, in the Bashi Channel, of the South China
Sea. As the POWs watched, the Japanese on
deck ran to the bow of the ship and watched as a
torpedo passed to the front of the ship. The
Japanese next ran to the stern and watched another
torpedo pass behind the ship. There was a
sudden jar caused by the ship being hit,
amidships, by two torpedoes killing POWs.
The ship stopped dead in the water. It is
believed that the submarine that fired the
torpedoes was the U.S.S Snook.
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."
Many of the
POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to
rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.
Most of the POWs survived the attack but died
because the Japanese refused to rescue them.
The Japanese destroyers deliberately pulled away
from the POWs as they attempted to reach
them. When POWs attempted to climb onto
ships, the Japanese beat them with clubs until
they fell off the ship, or they pushed them under
water with poles to drown them.
According to the three POWs who found an abandoned lifeboat, the Arisan Maru slowly got lower in the water, and at some point the ship split in two. The exact time that it sank is unknown since it sank after dark. Cries for help could be heard from every direction. Finally, there was silence.
Pfc. Ancel Crick lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea. Of the 1783 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking, and only eight men would survive to the end of the war. Since he was lost at sea, Pfc. Ancel E. Crick's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.