Jesse E Grenz - Back

Military information



Residence state: Oregon

Report Date: 6 May 1942
Latest Report Date: 24 Oct 1944

Grade: Private First Class
Grade Notes: Second Lieutenant or Nurse or Dietitian or Physical therapy aide or Private First Class or Ensign or Second Class, Seaman
Service Branch: Marine
Arm or Service: United States Marine Corps
Arm or Service Code: United States Marine Corps
Area Served: Southwest Pacific Theatre: Philippine Islands
Detaining Country: Japan
Camp: 501
Status: Executed, Died in Ship's Sinking or Result of Ship Sinking, Shot While Attempting Escape
POW Transport Ship: October Sinking: Arisan Maru, 24 October 1944
Report Source: Individual has been reported through sources considered official.

Jesse Grenz was on the "Hell Ship" Of Arisan Maru.  The following is an account of it's end days

ARISAN MARU (October 24, 1944)

Japanese freighter of 6,886-tons bound for Japan (in convoy of 17 ships) from Manila Bay in the Philippines. In the holds were about 100 civilians and 1,782 American prisoners of war being transported as slave labourers to work in the mines and factories of Japan. Crowded so close together they could not lie down, the holds soon became a hell-hole as the temperature soared to over 100 degrees F. The lack of fresh air caused many to go mad as the holds became fouled by the stench of sweating bodies, urine and human excrement. As the ship sailed into a typhoon, the odour of vomit from the hundreds of sea sick prisoners added to the wretched conditions.

Four days out into the China Sea, in the Bashi Straits, at 1500 hrs on the 24th, a terrible jolt shook the ship from bow to stern as three torpedoes from the American submarine USS Shark (some sources say USS Snook....both these submarines failed to return from that patrol) split the ship in two. The two halves separated but remained afloat only to sink two hours later. Most of the Japanese crew and guards were the first to escape by the few available lifeboats. Those guards left behind were set upon by the enraged POWs and killed. Only seven men survived the sinking by clinging to wreckage. Two were picked up by the Japanese escort destroyer the other five were later rescued by a Chinese fishing boat and reached the Chinese coast. As the Arisan Maru was unmarked, the captain of the submarine had no way of knowing that the ship carried POWs.

Many other 'hell ships' sailed the pacific seas and were sunk during the last three years of the war but little is known about them. After the war investigators discovered that the Japanese had destroyed numerous records of these voyages. Between 1942 and 1945 it is recorded that 134 Japanese ships made 156 voyages carrying POWs. The number of prisoners amounted to 126,064 of which 21,039 died.


The Arisan Maru



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