Tec 4 Andrew Jackson Napier
    T/4 Andrew J. Napier was born on January 23, 1915, in Breathitt County, Kentucky.  He was the son of Zachariah T. Napier & Lou Ellen Mays-Napier.  He had three sisters and two brothers.  In 1940, he was married, to Stella, the father of two daughters, working as a coal miner, and living in Knox County, Kentucky,

    Andrew enlisted into the U. S, Army, while living in Clark County, on January 14, 1941 at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky, with 19th Ordnance Battalion.  While he was at Ft. Knox, 17th Ordnance was formed, on August 17, 1941, from A Company of 19th Ordnance.  It is not known if he was a member of the company, or if he was assigned to the new company. 

    The company also received orders on August 17, for overseas duty.  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.
    On September 1, 1941, the company rode a train to Ft. Mason in San Francisco, California, on September 5, and were ferried, by the U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe, to Ft. McDowell on Angel Island.  It was there the soldiers received physicals and inoculations and those men found with medical conditions were replaced.
    The soldiers spent three days preparing their equipment and the equipment of the 194th Tank Battalion for shipment to the Philippine Islands.  The turrets of the tanks were removed and the tank's serial number was sprayed on each one so that it could be reattached to the right tank.
    The men boarded the S.S. President Calvin Coolidge on September 8 at 3:00 P.M. and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine Islands.  To get the tanks to fit in the ship's holds, the turrets had serial numbers spray painted on them and were removed from the tanks.  They arrived at Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday, September 13 at 7:00 A.M., and most of the soldiers were allowed off ship to see the island but had to be back on board before the ship sailed at 5:00 P.M.
    After leaving Hawaii, the ship took a southerly route away from the main shipping lanes.  It was at this time that it was joined by the U.S.S. Astoria, a heavy cruiser, and an unknown destroyer that were its escorts.  During this part of the trip, on several occasions, smoke was seen on the horizon, and the Astoria took off in the direction of the smoke.  Each time it was found that the smoke was from a ship belonging to a friendly country.
    The ships crossed the International Dateline on September 16 and the date changed to September 18.  They entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M., on September 26, and reached Manila several hours later.  The soldiers disembarked at 3:00 P.M., and were driven on buses to Clark Field.  The maintenance section of the 194th Tank Battalion and members of 17th Ordnance remained at the dock to unload the battalion's tanks and reattach the turrets.  The soldiers did this in shifts and took turns sleeping on the ship.  The job wasn't finished until the 9:00 the next morning.
    The soldiers rode buses to Fort Stotsenburg and taken to an area between the fort and Clark Field, where they were housed in tents since the barracks for them had not been completed.  The first night in the tents it rained and their tents flooded.  On November 15, they moved into their barracks.

    On December 8, 1941, Napier lived the bombing of Clark Field.  He and his company spent the next for months servicing tanks during the withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula.  It was headquartered in an abandoned ordnance depot building.  On April 9, 1942, his company received the news of the surrender.

    17th Ordnance made their way south to Mariveles.  From there, they started what became known as the death march.  Napier and the other Prisoners of War made their way to San Fernando.  Once there, they were boarded into wooden boxcars.  The cars could hold forty men or eight horses, the Japanese packed 100 men into each car.  At Capas, the dead fell out of the cars when the disembarked.
    The POWs marched eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.  The camp was an unfinished Filipino Army Training Base.  The Japanese pressed the camp 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 for looting.
    There was only one water faucet in the camp, and the prisoners stood in line from two to eight hours waiting for a drink.  The Japanese guards at the faucet would turn it off for no reason and the next man in line would stand as long as four hours waiting for it to be turned on again.  This situation improved when a second faucet was added.
    There was no water for washing clothes, so the POWs would throw out their clothing when it had been soiled.  In addition, water for cooking had to be carried three miles from a river to the camp and mess kits could not be washed.  The slit trenches in the camp were inadequate and were soon overflowing since most of the POWs had dysentery.  The result was that flies were everywhere in the camp including the POW kitchens and in the food.
    The camp hospital had no soap, water, or disinfectant.  When the ranking American doctor at the camp wrote a letter to the camp commandant, Capt. Yohio Tsuneyoshi, asking for medical supplies, he was told never to write another letter.
    The Archbishop of Manila sent a truckload of medical supplies to the camp, the Japanese commandant refused to allow the truck into the camp.  When the Japanese Red Cross sent medical supplies the camp the Japanese took 95% of the supplies for their own use.
    The POWs in the camp hospital lay on the floor elbow to elbow and only one of the six medic assigned to care for 50 sick POWs was healthy enough to care for them.  When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross stated they could supply a 150 bed hospital for the camp, he was slapped in the face by a Japanese lieutenant.
    Each morning, the bodies of the dead were found all over the camp and were carried to the hospital and placed underneath it.  The bodies lay there for two or three days before they were buried in the camp cemetery by other POWs who were suffering from dysentery and/or malaria.  To clean the ground under the hospital, the ground was scraped and lime was spread over it.  The bodies of the dead were placed in the area, and the area they had been laying was scrapped and lime was spread over it.
    Work details were sent out on a daily basis.  Each day, the American doctors gave a list of names to the Japanese of the POWs who were healthier enough to work.  If the quota of POWs needed to work could not be met, the Japanese put those POWs who were sick, but could walk, to work.  The death rate among the POWs reached 50 men dying a day.  The Japanese finally acknowledge that they had to do something, so the opened a new POW camp at Cabanatuan.
    On June 1, 1942, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men each and were marched to Capas.  There, the were put in steel boxcars with two Japanese guards.  At Calumpit, the train was switched onto another line which took it to Cabanatuan.  The POWs disembarked and were taken to a schoolyard where they were fed cooked rice and onion soup.  From there, they were marched to Cabanatuan which had been the headquarters of the 91st Philippine Army Division.
    To prevent escapes, the POWs set up a detail that patrolled the fence of the camp.  The reason this was done was that those who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed, while the other POWs were made to watch.  It is believed that no POW successfully escaped from the camp.
    It is not known if Napier was sent out on any of the work details that left the camp daily.  The POWs were sent out on work detail to cut wood for the POW kitchens.  Meals on a daily basis consisted of 16 ounces of cooked rice, 4 ounces of vegetable oil, and sweet potato or corn.  Other POWs worked in rice paddies.  Each morning, after arriving at the farm, the POWs went into a tool shed to get their tools.  As they left the shed, the guards hit them on their heads.  While working in the fields, the favorite punishment given to the men in the rice paddies was to have their faces pushed into the mud and stepped on by a guard.  Returning from a detail the POWs bought, or were given, medicine, food, and tobacco, which they somehow managed to get into the camp even though they were searched when they returned. 

    On March 15, 1943, he was admitted to the camp hospital.  The records kept at the time do not indicate why he was admitted or when he was discharged.  It is known that he was still there in early October 1944. 
    The camp hospital consisted of 30 wards which held 40 men, but they frequently had 100 men in each.  Each ward hard two tiers of bunks giving the sick an space of 2 feet by 6 feet to lay in.  The sicker POWs were put in the lower tier.  One ward got the name "Zero Ward" because it had been missed when the wards were first counted.  It soon became known as the place those who were going to die were sent.  It was fenced off from the other wards and the Japanese guards would not go near it. 

    On October 10, 1944, Napier was boarded onto the Arisan Maru.  With him on the ship were other members of 17th Ordnance.  He and 1802 other POWs were packed into the ship's number two 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 lying down.  Those standing also 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 11th, 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.  This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes, but the ship was attacked by American planes.  

    During their time in the cove, the POWs discovered that although the Japanese had removed the lights from the hold the Japanese did not turnoff the power.  With a little work, the POWs manage to wire the ventilation system into the lighting system.  For two days, they had fresh air until the Japanese discovered what they had done.  They then turned off the power.  The heat in the hold got so bad that the POWs began developing heat blisters.  

    The Japanese finally acknowledged that they had to do something to improve the situation and transferred POWs to the ship's first hold.  This hold was partially filled with coal.  During this transfer, one POW was shot and killed while attempting to escape.  The ship also was attacked by American planes which were returning from a air raid on the airfield on Palawan.

    The Arisan Maru returned to Manila on October 20th.  There, it joined a convoy.  On October 21st, 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 submarines.  

    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, about 5:00 pm, some of the POWs were on deck preparing dinner for the POWs in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, off the coast of China, in the Bashi Channel.  Suddenly, sirens and other alarms were heard.  The men inside the holds knew this meant that American submarines had been spotted and began to chant for the submarines to sink the ship.
    The waves were high since a storm had just passed.  At about 5:50 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, but it still killed some POWs.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S. Snook.
    The Japanese guards took their guns and used them as clubs on the POWs who were on deck.  To escape, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in the holds, the Japanese cut the rope ladders and put the hatch covers on the holds, but they did not tie them down.  They then abandoned the ship.
    Some of the POWs from the first hold climbed out and reattached the ladders and dropped them to the men in the holds.  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.
    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.  It was about this time that about 35 POWs swam to the nearest Japanese ship.  When the Japanese realized that they were POWs, they pushed them underwater with poles and drowned them or hit them with clubs.  Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers for a last meal, because they wanted to die with full stomachs.  Other POWs took to the water with anything that would float.  
    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.  The men in the boat heard cries for help, which became fewer and fewer, until there was silence.  The next day they picked up two more survivors.  Four other men were picked up by a Japanese ship.

    T/4 Andrew J. Napier lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea.  He was 29 years old.  Of the 1803 POWs on the ship, only nine survived the sinking.  Eight of these men would survive the war.  Since he was lost at sea, T/4 Andrew J. Napier's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.


 



 

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