Pvt. Clarence E. Simms
    Pvt. Clarence E. Simms was born to Andrew L. Simms & Hattie Roach-Simms on June 8, 1915, in Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio.  He was the oldest of the couple's four children and grew up in Newport, Kentucky.  He was living in Huntington, West Virginia, working as a mechanic, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Hayes, Ohio, on January 7, 1941.
    At Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was assigned to the 19th Ordnance Battalion, because he was a mechanic.  A company of the battalion would later be reorganized as 17th Ordnance Company and sent to the Philippine Islands in September 1941.
    On December 8, 1941, Clarence lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Airfield just ten hours after Pearl Harbor.  His company worked to keep the tanks of the 192nd & 194th Tank Battalions supplied with gasoline, ammunition, and running.
    Clarence became a Prisoner of War when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.  He took part in the death march from Mariveles to San Fernando.  He, like the other POWs, received little food and water.  At San Fernando, the POWs were packed into small wooden boxcars that could hold eight horses or forty men.  Each boxcar was packed with 100 men.  Those who died remained standing until the living climbed out at Capas.  They then walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
    Camp O'Donnell, an unfinished Filipino Army Base, was pressed into service by the Japanese as a POW Camp.  There was only one water faucet for the entire camp.  Men literally died waiting for a drink.  Many of the POWs worked the burial detail since the death rate at the camp was as high as fifty men a day.
    The Japanese recognized that they had to do something to lower the death rate, so they opened a new camp at Cabanatuan.  Clarence was sent to the camp when it opened.  Records kept by the medical staff at the camp show that Clarence was admitted to the hospital on Saturday, June 12th suffering from malaria.  When he was discharged was not recorded.  On September 19th, he was readmitted to the hospital because of what the medical staff referred to as an "old left ankle injury."  Once again, no discharge date was given.
    The Japanese organized a work detail to extend a runway at Nichols Airfield.  The POWs were housed in the Passay School about a mile from the airfield.  The POWs on this detail had nothing but picks and shovels to build the runways.  At first the work was hard but not as hard as it was going to get.  About 400 yards from where they began working where hills.  The POWs removed these hills with picks and shovels.  The dirt was put into wheel barrows and carried to a swamp and dumped as landfill.  This turned out to be inefficient, so the Japanese brought in mining cars and railroad track.  Two POWs pushed each car to where it was to be dumped.  He would remain on this detail for almost seventeen months.

    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 to 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 welfare of the POWs was of no concern to the Japanese.  They only concern they had was getting the runway built.  If the number of POWs identified as being sick was too large, the Japanese would simply walk among the POWs, at the school, and select men who did not display any physical signs of illness or injury.  Men suffering from dysentery or pellagra could not get out of work.

    In particular, "the Wolf" was was hardest to convince that a man was sick.  If a man's arm or leg was bandaged, he would kick the man's leg, in the spot it was bandaged, and see how the man reacted.  If the man showed a great deal of pain, he was not required to work.  In one case, a man whose broken wrist was in a splint, was twisted by the Wolf while the man trembled in pain.
    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.         
    In September 1944, Clarence was sent to Bilibid Prison.  While he was there he suffered with urethral stricture which was preventing him from urinating.  This condition was most likely caused by an injury.  How long he remained in the hospital is not known.
    On October 10, 1944, Clarence, with other POWs, was taken to the Port Area of Manila.  His detachment of POWs were scheduled to sail on the Hokusen Maru, but since the ship was ready to sail and not all of his POW detachment had arrived, the Japanese put another detachment of POWs on the ship.  Clarence's POW detachment was put on the Arisan Maru which was the ship the second group of POWs had been scheduled to sail on by the Japanese.

    On October 11th, the ship set sail but took a southerly route away from Formosa.  Within the first 48 hours, 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 sent to Palawan resulted in the ship missing an air attack on Manila by American planes, but the ship was later attacked by American planes during a raid on Palawan.
    Each day, each POW was given 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 cutoff the power.  Some of the prisoners were able to wire the ship's blowers into the 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 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 some point, one POW was shot while attempting to escape.
    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.  The POWs in the hold were so desperate that they prayed for the ship to be hit by torpedoes.
    According to the survivors of the Arisan Maru, on Tuesday, October 24, 1944, about 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds.  The ship was, in the Bashi Channel, off the coast of China.  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 Japanese on deck began running around the ship.  As the POWs watched, a torpedo passed the bow of the ship.  Moments later, a second torpedo passed the ship's stern.  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.  It is believed that the submarine that fired the torpedoes was the U.S.S Snook.
    One of the Japanese guards took a machinegun and began firing on the POWs who were on deck.  To escape, the POWs dove back into the holds.  After they were in, the Japanese put the hatch covers on the holds but did not tie them down.
    The Japanese began abandoning ship.  Before they left, they cut the rope ladders that went into the holds.  The POWs were able to get onto the deck of the ship.  At first, few POWs attempted to escape the ship.  A group of 35 swam to a nearby Japanese ship, but when the Japanese realized they were POWs, they were pushed away with poles and hit with clubs.  The Japanese destroyers in the convoy deliberately pulled away from the POWs as they attempted to reach them.
     As the ship got lower in the water, some POWs took to the water.  These POWs attempted to escape the ship by clinging to rafts, hatch covers, flotsam and jetsam.  Most of the POWs were still on deck even after it became apparent that the ship was sinking.   The exact time of the ship's sinking is not known since it took place after dark.
     Five of the POWs found a abandoned lifeboat, but since they had no paddles, they could not maneuver it to help other POWs.  According to surviving POWs, the ship split in half but remained afloat.  Most of the POWs had survived the attack, but those who could not swim raided the food stores for a last meal.
    Some POWs attempted to survive 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.  By dark, most, if not all, were dead.  According to the survivors, the Arisan Maru sank sometime after dark.  As the night went on, the cries for help grew fewer until there was silence.
    In the end, only nine men out of the 1805 men who boarded the Arisan Maru in Manila survived the sinking.  Only eight of the POWs would survive the war.  Pvt. Clarence E. Simms was not one of them.
    Since Pvt. Clarence E. Simms was lost at sea, his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.




 


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