2nd Lt. Arthur A. Holland
| 2nd Lt. Arthur A.
Holland was born on April 13, 1920, in Newark, New Jersey, to Joseph &
With his parents and two brothers, he lived in Maywood and at 7436 West
Madison Street, Forest Park, Illinois. He attended Irving School and
Proviso Township High School in
At Proviso, Arthur participated in the student council and was a member of the National Honor Society. After he graduated, he became associated with his father in the Joseph Holland Hardware Firm.
Arthur joined the Illinois National Guard and became a member of the 33rd Tank Company headquartered in an armory at Maywood, Illinois. In November of 1940, Arthur was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to train with his company when it was federalized as Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion.
In the late summer of 1941, Arthur took part in maneuvers in Louisiana and then was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana. It was there that the members of the battalion learned that they had been selected for duty overseas.
After being outfitted with new equipment, the battalion was sent by train to Angel Island. They received inoculations and were boarded onto their transport. When Arthur boarded the ship, he discovered that he had been assigned to one of the few rooms on the ship with permanent bunks not army cots. When he reached his room, Lt. William Gentry opened the door, pulled him in, and locked the door behind him. Gentry did not want any other bunk mates. It turned out all the other rooms had cots from wall to wall.
From Angel Island, they sailed to Manila in the Philippine Islands. After stops in Hawaii and Guam they arrived at Manila. The tankers were taken to Ft. Stotsenburg and stationed at Clark Field.
War came for Arthur and the other men of the 192nd when the Japanese bombed Clark Field just ten hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor. Arthur's job during the battle for the Philippine Islands was that of Transportation Officer for the 192nd.
As the Filipino and American troops withdrew toward Bataan, Arthur, as transportation officer, attempted to get ammunition and other supplies to the tanks of the 192nd. He could not always deliver the supplies because whenever he thought he had found the tanks, the tanks had moved. During one incident, it took Arthur six days to deliver the supplies needed by the tanks.
Sometime during the next four months, Arthur was reassigned to Company A. On April 9, 1942, Arthur became a Prisoner of War when the Filipino and American Forces were surrendered. He took part in the death march and was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell.
Arthur next was held at Cabanatuan POW Camp. He remiand in Cabanatuan until late September, 1944. It was at that time that he was sent to Bilibid Prison. At the docks of Manila, Arthur and other POWs were boarded onto the Arisan Maru for transport to Japan.
On October 10, 1944, Arthur was boarded onto the Arisan Maru. With him on the ship were the same members of B Company who had been worked with him in Manila. He and 1805 other POWs were packed into the ship's number one 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. Those standing 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. 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. This resulted in the ship missing an air attack by American planes, but the ship was attacked by American planes.
During the time off Palawan, the ship was attacked by American planes. 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 that the ship be hit by torpedoes.
According to the survivors, on October 24, 1944, at about 5:00 pm, POWs were on deck preparing the meal for those in the ship's two holds. The ship was near Shoonan, off the coast of China. Suddenly, sirens and other alarms were heard. The men inside 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.
As the Japanese abandoned ship, they cut the rope ladders into the ship's two holds, but they did not tie down the hatch covers. Some of the POWs in the second hold were able to climb out and reattached the ladders. They also dropped ropes down to the POWs in both 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 the survivors, the Arisan Maru sank sometime after dark. As the night went on, the cries for help grew fewer until there was silence.
2nd Lt. Arthur A. Holland lost his life when the Arisan Maru was torpedoed in the South China Sea. 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, 2nd Lt. Arthur A. Holland's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.