Cpl. Frank E. South was the son of Robert B. South and Allie N. Cornell-South and was born
on December 6, 1918, in Watauga County, North Carolina. He had one sister and two brothers. It is
known his sister died before her tenth birthday. It is known that his parents divorced and his mother
Frank was raised in Watauga County, North Carolina, and graduated high school. After
high school, he moved first to Montana and next to Brainerd, Minnesota, where he worked as a bell hop at a
hotel. It was in Brainerd that he joined the National Guard. At some point his parents
On February 10, 1941, his tank company was federalized as A Company, 194th Tank
Battalion. He and the other National Guardsmen were sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. There, they
were joined by B Company from Saint Joseph, Missouri, and C Company from Salinas, California. They spent
the ne xt six months training. It was at that time that Frank was assigned to HQ Company when it was
On August 15, 1941, the 194th received orders, from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for duty in
the Philippines because of an event that happened during the summer. A squadron of American fighters was
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 for 30 miles to
the northwest, in the direction of an Japanese occupied island, with a large radio transmitter, hundred of
miles away. The squadron continued its flight plane and flew south to Mariveles and then returned to
Clark Field. By the time the planes landed, it was too late to do anything that day.
The next morning, another squadron was sent to the area and found that the buoys had
been picked up by a fishing boat which was seen making its way toward shore. Since communication between
and Air Corps and Navy was poor, the boat was not intercepted. It was at that time the decision was made
to build up the American military presence in the Philippines.
On September 4, 1941, the 194th, without B Company, was sent to Ft.Mason, north of San
Francisco, by train and arrived at 7:30 A.M. on the 5th. From there, they were ferried, on the
U.S.A.T. General Frank M. Coxe to Ft. MacDowell on Angel Island where they were inoculated. Those
men with medical conditions were replaced.
When the patrol landed it was dusk and too late for anything to be done that night.
The next morning when a patrol was sent up, they buoys had been picked up at night and a fishing boat was seen
quickly heading to shore with its hold covered by a tarpaulin. Since there was no way to communicate with
the Navy, nothing could be done to intercept the fishing boat.
The battalion boarded a transport bound onto the
S.S. President Calvin Cooledge and sailed at 9:00 P.M. for the Philippine Islands on September
8th. The ship arrived at 7:00 A.M. on September 13 at Honolulu, Hawaii. The soldiers were given
four hour passes ashore. At 5:00 this part of the trip that it was joined by the heavy
U.S.S. Astoria and an unknown destroyer.
Several times during this part of the voyage, the Astoria took off in the direction of
smoke which was seen on the horizon. Each time the ship was from a friendly country. The ships
crossed the International Dateline on Tuesday, September 16, and the date became Thursday, September 18.
The ships entered Manila Bay at 7:00 A.M. and the soldiers were disembarked at 3:00 P.M. and were taken by bus
to Ft. Stostenburg. The maintenance section of the battalion remained at the pier and, with the 17th
Ordnance Company, unloaded the tanks and reattached their turrets.
On December 1, the tankers were ordered to the perimeter of Clark Field to guard against
Japanese paratroopers. Two members of each tank and half-track crew remained with their vehicles at all
times and received their meals from food truck
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after Pearl Harbor, the tankers were
ordered to the perimeter of Clark Airfield to guar against Japanese paratroopers. All morning they
watched as the sky was filled with American planes. At noon the planes landed and the pilots went to
lunch. At 12:45, the Japanese bombed the airfield destroying the American Army Air Corps.
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.
The 194th was sent to Mabalcat December 10, and it was at this time that C Company was
sent to southern Luzon where the Japanese were landing. On the 12, the A and D Company, 192nd, were sent
to a new bivouac south of San Fernando and arrived at 6:00 A.M. They received Bren gun carriers on the 15
and used them to test the ground to see if it could support the weight of a tank.
Around December 22, his tank platoon was ordered north, to Rosario, to slow the
advancing Japanese who had landed troops at Lingayen Gulf. On December 25, Harold's tank platoon
had taken positions west of Carmen. When they began taking fire from a strong Japanese force, he ordered
the tanks to open fire with their machine guns. Realizing that they had a very good chance of being cut
off, he ordered his tanks to withdraw through Carmen the evening of December 26.
While the tanks approached the barrio, the tanks came under heavy fire from the
Japanese who had occupied the barrio. The tanks ran into a road block and smashed their way through it
firing their guns losing two tanks. The crews were picked up by other tanks. The tanks then made a
sharp turn and continued their withdraw from Carmen. The Japanese fired on them the entire time, until
they got out of range. In the dark, Costigan's platoon passed the Provisional Tank Group's Headquarters
in the dark without knowing it. When Harold reported to Gen. Weaver about what had happened, he was
chastised by the general. Weaver ordered him to get back into his tank and return to his previous
The battalions were holding the Tarlec Line on December 28 and withdrew to form the
Bamban Line the night of the 29/30 which they held until they were ordered to +withdraw. On January 2 the
battalions withdrew to Layac Junction with the 194th using highway 7. The 194th, covered by the 192nd,
withdrew across the Culis Creek into Bataan. After the 192nd crossed the bridge, it was blown starting
the Battle of Bataan.
In January 1942, the tank companies were reduced to three tanks in each platoon.
This was done so that D Company, 192nd, attached to the 194th, would have tanks. The company had
abandoned its tanks after the bridge they were scheduled to use had been destroyed by the engineers before they
On January 20, A Company was sent to save the command post of the 31st Infantry.
On the 24, they supported the troops along the Hacienda Road, but they could not reach the objective because of
landmines that had been planted by ordnance.
The battalion held a position a kilometer north of the Pilar-Bagac Road with foour
self propelled mounts. At 9:45 A.M., a Filipino warned the tankers that a large force of Japanese were on
there way. When they appeared the battalion, and self propelled mounts, opened up with everything
they had. The Japanese broke off the attack, at 10:30 A.M., after losing 500 of their 1200 men.
On January 28, the tank battalions were given beach duty with the 194th assigned the
coast from Limay to Cacaben. The half-tracks were used to patrol the roads.
In March, two of the 194th was attempting to free two tanks that were stuck in the
mud. As the tankers worked to get them out, Japanese Regiment entered the area. Lt. Col. Miller
ordered the tanks to fire at point blank range and ran from tank to tank directing fire. When they
stopped firing, they had wiped out the regiment.
Gen Weaver also suggested to Gen Wainwright that a platoon of tanks be sent to
Corregidor. This idea was rejected by Wainwright. It was also at this time that gasoline for most
vehicles, except tanks, was caught to 15 gallons a day.
The Japanese brought fresh troops to Bataan since the Americans and Filipinos with the
help of tropical illnesses had fought the Japanese to a standstill. On April 4, the Japanese launched a
major offensive. In an attempt to stop them, the tanks were sent into various sectors. It was also
at this time that tanks became the favorite targets of Japanese planes an artillery.
The tanks were fighting on the East Coast Road at Cabcaban when General King
determined that the situation was hopeless and sent his staff officers to meet with the Japanese command.
Only 25% of his troops were healthy enough to fight, and he estimated they would last one more day. In
addition, he had 6,000 soldiers sick or wounded and feared that if the battle continued, 40,000 civilians with
the defenders would be slaughtered.
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
Early in the morning of April 9, 1942, he and the other tankers received the order "
crash " which meant they were to destroy their tanks. The next morning, Bataan was officially surrendered
to the Japanese.
When Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese, Frank became a Prisoner of War.
Japanese officers appeared on April 10, and ordered the Americans to Mariveles at the southern tip of Bataan.
On April 10, the POWs started the march out of Bataan. They made their way north
against the flow of Japanese horse artillery and trucks that was moving south. At times, they would slip
on something wet and slippery which were the remains of a man killed by Japanese artillery the day
before. When dawn came, the walking became easier but as the sun rose it became hotter and they POWs
began to feel the effects of thirst. It was then that the POWs saw a group of Filipinos being
marched by the Japanese. They realized that they had been hungry, but the Filipinos had been starving.
When the men crossed the Lamao River, they smelled the sweet smell of death. The
Japanese had heavily bombed the area causing many casualties and many of the dead lay partially in the
river. The air corps POWs in front of them ran to the river and drank. Many would later die from
dysentery at Camp O'Donnell.
At Limay, the officers with the tank of lieutenant colonel or above, were put into a
school yard. The officers were told that they would be driven the rest of the march. At 4:00 AM,
the officers were put into trucks and taken to Balanga, disembarked, and ordered to put their field bags in
front of them for inspection. During the inspection, one officer was found to have an automatic gun in
his bag. As punishment the POWs were not fed. They set in a paddy all day and were ordered to move
near sunset as punishment for the gun being in the bag. They reached Orani on April 12 at three in the
At Orani, the officers were put into a bull pen where they were ordered to lay
down. In the morning, the POWs realized that they had been lying in the human waste of POWs who had
already used the bullpen. At noon, they received their first food. It was a meal of rice and
salt. Later in the day, other enlisted POWs arrived in Orani. One group was the enlisted members of
the tank group who had walked the entire way to the barrio.
They resumed the march and were marched at a faster pace, and the guards also seemed
to be nervous about something. They made their way to north of Hormosa, where the road went from
gravel to concrete, and the change of surface made the march easier. When the POWs were allowed to sit
down, those who attempted to lay down were jabbed with bayonets.
The POWs continued the march and for the first time in months it began to rain which
felt great and many men attempted to get drinks. They arrived at San Fernando and put into a pen and
remained there the rest of the day.
The POWs were organized into detachments of 100 men and marched to the train station
in San Fernando. They were packed into small wooden boxcars known as "forty or eights." They were
called this since each car could hold forty men or eight horses. The Japanese packed 100 men into each
car and shut the doors. The heat in the cars was unbearable and many POWs died. They could not fall
to the floors since there was no room for them to fall. The POWs rode the train to Capas arriving there
at 9:00 AM. There, the living disembarked from the cars and the dead fell to the floors. The POWs
walked the last eight kilometers to Camp O'Donnell.
Camp O'Donnell was an unfinished Filipino military camp that the Japanese put into use as
a POW camp on April 1, 1942. The Japanese estimated that the camp could hold from 15,000 to 20,000
POWs. When the men arrived at the camp they were searched and those found to have any Japanese items on
them were separated from the other POWs and accused of looting the bodies of dead Japanese soldiers. They
were taken to the guardhouse and held there until they were taken to as area southeast of the camp and
The other POWs had any extra clothing taken away from them and the Japanese did not
return it to them. Since there was no water available for washing clothes, since the POWs could not bathe
and their clothing became soiled, they threw it away. They also stripped the dead of their clothing
before they were buried. Most of those who were ill and in the camp hospital had little to no
clothing. In addition, there was no water to wash the mess kits.
The only water in the camp came from one spigot which the Japanese guards would
arbitrarily turn off. If it was turned off, the next man in line for a drink could wait as long as 4
hours for it to be turned on again. The average wait for one drink of water was from 2Â½ to 8
hours. For cooking rice, the water was carried from a river located 3 miles from the camp. The
Japanese installed a second water spigot which made things better.
The POW bathrooms were slit trenches which quickly overflowed since most of the POWs had
dysentery or diarrhea. Flies from the latrines where everywhere in the camp including the kitchens and on
the food which caused disease to spread.
The camp hospital had no soap or disinfectant. When senior ranking American doctor
wrote a letter to the Japanese commandant of the camp, Captain Yoshio Tsuneyoshi, stating the medical supplies
he needed, he was told never to write another letter, and that the only thing that he wanted from the hospital
were the names and serial numbers of the dead.
When a representative of the Philippine Red Cross offered a 150 bed hospital for the
POWs in the camp, a Japanese second lieutenant slapped him in the face. When the Catholic Archbishop of
Manila sent a truckload of medicine to the camp, the Japanese turned the truck away. Medicine sent by the
Philippine Red Cross was appropriated by the Japanese for use on their troops. The medical staff at the
hospital did surgery with mess kit knives since their were no medical supplies. For every six medics
assigned to work in the hospital, only one man was healthy enough to perform all his duties.
The death rate in the camp rose to 50 men dying each day. Each morning, the POWs
collected the bodies of the dead, which were found all around the camp and carried them to the camp
hospital. There, the bodies were placed under the hospital awaiting burial which usually took two to
three days. To clean the dirt under the hospital, the POWs moved the dead, scrapped the ground and spread
lime on the soil. They moved the bodies back into the area and repeated the process where the bodies had
lain while they were cleaning the other area.
A burial detail worked daily to bury the dead. Two POWs carried a body, in a sling to
the camp cemetery and placed it in a shallow grave. The graves were shallow because the water table was
high, and as they dug the graves, the graves would quickly start to fill with water. To hold the body
down in the grave a POW used a pole while the other men threw dirt on the body.
Daily work details left the camp to cut fire wood for the POW kitchen and to perform other
duties for the Japanese. Long term work details also were sent out, and many of the POWs volunteered to
go out on them so that they could escape the camp.
The Japanese finally acknowledged that they had to do something, so the opened a new camp
at Cabanatuan. The morning of June 1, the POWs formed detachments of 100 men and marched out of the camp
to Capas. As the POWs marched, the Filipinos gave them small bundles of food. The Japanese guards
did not stop the Filipinos. At Capas, the POWs were put in steel boxcars and rode the train to Calumpit,
where it was switched to the track to Cabanatuan.
The POWs disembarked the train and were put into a school yard where they were fed cooked
rice and onion soup. Afterwards, they marched to Cabanatuan POW Camp. The new camp had been the
home of the 91st Philippine Army and was previously known as Camp Panagaian.
The camp was actually three separate camps. Camp #1 was were those men who had
been POWs at Camp O'Donnell were sent. Camp #2 was four miles away from Camp 1, and because of its water
problem closed quickly. It was later reopened and house Naval POWs. Camp #3 was six miles from Camp
2 and later housed the POW from Corregidor, from the hospitals on Bataan, and those who had been at Camp
2. These POWs were generally in better shape then the men who had taken part in the march. Frank
was assigned to Barracks 10 at Camp 1.
Once in the camp, the POWs were allowed to run the camp. The Japanese only entered if
they had an issue they wanted to deal with. 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.
In the camp, the Japanese instituted the "Blood Brother" rule. If one man escaped
the other nine men in his group would be executed. POWs caught trying to escape were beaten. Those
who did escape and were caught, were tortured before being executed. It is not known if any POW
successfully escaped from the camp.
The barracks in the camp were built to house 50 POWs, but most had between 60 to 120
POWs in them. The POWs slept on bamboo slats, without mattresses, bedding, or mosquito netting. Many
quickly became ill. The POWs were assigned to barracks which meant that the members of their group lived
together, went out on work details together, and would be executed together since they were Blood Brothers.
The POWs were sent out on work details one was to cut wood for the POW kitchens.
The two major details were the farm detail and the airfield detail which lasted for years. A typical day on
any detail lasted from 7:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. The POWs on the farm detail would have to go to a
shed each morning to get tools. As they left the shed, the Japanese guards thought it was great fun to hit
them over their heads.
The detail was under the command of "Big Speedo" who spoke very little English.
When he wanted the POWs to work faster, he told the POWs
Although he was known to have a temper, the POWs thought he was fair. Another guard was "Little
Speedo" who was smaller and also used
when he wanted the POWs to work faster. The POWs also felt he was pretty fair in his treatment of
them. "Smiley" was another guard who always had a smile on his face but could not be trusted. He was
the meanest of the guards and beat men up for no reason. He liked to hit the POWs with the club. Any
prisoner who he believed was not working hard enough got knocked over with it. Any prisoner who he believed
was not working hard enough got knocked over with it. 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.
Other POWs worked in rice paddies. 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 to drive their faces deeper into the mud. 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
Rice was the main food given to the POWs fed to them as "lugow" which meant "wet
rice." During their time in the camp, they received few vegetables and almost no fruit. Once in
awhile, they received bread.
The camp hospital was known as "Zero Ward" because it was missed by the Japanese when
they counted barracks. The sickest POWs were sent there to die. The Japanese put a fence up around
the building to protect themselves, and they would not go into the building. There were two rolls of wooden
platforms around the perimeter of the building. The sickest POWs were put on the lower platform which had
holes cut into it so the they could relieve themselves. Most of those who entered the ward died.
It is known that on July 12, Frank was admitted to the camp hospital suffering from
dysentery. It is not known how long he spent in the hospital and when he was discharged. It is known
that while he was in the camp, his family, on August 14, 1943, officially was informed that he was a
In late 1944, when it became apparent to the Japanese that the invasion of the Philippines
was near, most of the POWs on this detail were sent to the Port Area of Manila. The Japanese were
attempting to send the healthy POWs to Japan, and other countries, to work as slave labor and prevent them from
being liberated by advancing American forces.
On October 2, 1944, 1775 POWs were marched to the Port Area of Manila. His POW
detachment was scheduled to sail on, the
Hokusen Maru, which was ready to sail, but some of the POWs, in the detachment, had not arrived at the
pier. Another POW detachment, scheduled to sail on the
Arisan Maru, had completely arrived, but their ship was not ready to sail. It was at that time that
the Japanese made the decision that they switch POW detachments so the
Hokusen Maru could sail.
On October 10, the POWs boarded the
Arisan Maru and 1775 prisoners were crammed into the first hold of the ship which could hold 400
men. They were packed in so tightly that they could not move. 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
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."
The ship sailed, but took a southerly route away from Taiwan and dropped anchor in a
cove off Palawan Island. During the first 48 hours off Palawan, five POWs died. The POWs realized
that the Japanese had removed the light bulbs from the lighting system, but that they had not turned off the
power. They figured out a way to hook the ventilation system into the lights and had fresh air for two
days. When the Japanese discovered what had been done, they turned off the power.
The POWs began developing heat blisters, and the Japanese conceded that more POWs would
die unless they did something. The Japanese transferred POWs from the first hold to its second hold.
This hold was partially filled with coal. During the transfer, one POW attempted to escape and was shot.
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."
On October 20, the
Arisan Maru returned to Manila, where, it joined a twelve ship convoy bound for Taiwan. The convoy
sailed on October 21 after all the ships had been loaded. The Japanese refused to mark POW ships with red
crosses to indicate they were carrying POWs. This made the ships targets for submarines. In addition,
U.S. Military Intelligence, was reading the Japanese code as fast as the Japanese. To protect this secret,
they did not tell the submarine crews which ships were carrying POWs.
, "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 and had fed about half the POWs.
Each day, each POW was given three ounces of water and two half mess kits of raw
rice. The waves were high since the ship had been through a storm 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.
At about 4:50 P.M., about half the POWs had been fed. 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, 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.
At first the POWs cheered wildly until they realized they were facing death. Cichy
, "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
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 also stated
, "The Japs had already evacuated ship. They had a destroyer off the side, and they were saving
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." Overbeck 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'
The ship slowly 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. 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."
, "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,
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
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. Cpl. Frank E. Smith was not one of them.
Cpl. Frank E. Smith's family learned of his death on June 22, 1945, they received a
message from the War Department. It read
"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, Cpl. Frank E. South's name appears on the Tablets of the
Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.