Pvt. William H. Jardot
Pvt. William H. Jardot was born on April 18, 1916, in Henderson County, Kentucky. He was the son of John P. Jardot & Adella Groves-Jardot. It is known he had three sisters and two brothers. He known as "Butch" to his friends and family. He grew up at 1300 Lock Street in Henderson, Kentucky.
With his friend, James T. Groves, William enlisted into the U.S. Army on January 20, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. There, he was assigned to D Company, 192nd Tank Battalion. D Company had originated as a Kentucky National Guard Tank Company from Harrodsburg.
After training for eight months, William and the other members of his battalion were sent to Louisiana to take part in maneuvers. It was after these maneuvers that the soldiers learned that they were being sent overseas.
Traveling west by train to San Francisco, William was ferried to Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. On the island he received shots and a physical before being shipped out to the Philippine Islands.
In the Philippines, William's battalion lived in tents along the main road between Ft. Stotsenburg and Clark Airfield. For the next seventeen days, they prepared for maneuvers that they expected to take part in.
The morning of December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, William and the other members of the battalion learned of the Japanese attack. They received orders to take their tanks to the perimeter of the airfield to guard against paratroopers. At 12:45 in the afternoon, William lived through the Japanese attack on Clark Field.
During this time D Company was attached to the 194th Tank Battalion. It took part in a number of engagements while fighting with the battalion. The evening of the April 8, 1942, William and the other POWs received the order to surrender to the Japanese. The tankers destroyed their equipment. The next day, they made their way to Mariveles.
From Mariveles, William started the death march. He and the other POWs made their way to San Fernando. At this barrio, the POWs were packed in groups of 100 into wooden boxcars that could hold forty men. the dead remained standing until the living climbed out of the cars at Capas. William and the other POWs walked the last ten miles to Camp O'Donnell.
When the new camp opened at Cabanatuan, William was sent there. How long he remained in the camp is not known. William was next sent to Bilibid Prison. While there William was selected to go out on a work detail to Nichols Field. The POWs were expected to build a new runway at the airfield using picks and shovels. To do this, the POWs literally had to remove a mountain. The detail quickly became known as a death detail. During his time on the detail he lived at Pasay School. He remained on this detail until late 1944.
On October 10, 1944, William and the other POWs in his group arrived at the port area in Manila. They were scheduled to be boarded onto the Hokusen Maru. The Japanese decided to board them on the Arisan Maru. With him on the ship were other members of D Company. He and 1803 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. 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. 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 this time, one POW was shot and killed while attempting to escape. Each day, each POW was allowed three ounces of water. The Arisan Maru returned to the 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 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 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 into the holds. 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.
Pvt. William H. Jadot 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, Pvt. William H. Jadot's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Military Cemetery outside of Manila.