Robert S. Overbeck and the Arisan Maru


My father, Robert S. Overbeck, was a prisoner of war in the Pacific during World War II. He was one of the 5 survivors out of approximately 1,800 prisoners on the Arisan Maru, a Japanese ship carrying American POWs that was sunk by a U.S. submarine. Here is an account, Voyage to China, that he wrote about it. He submitted it to the New Yorker, but it was rejected. He passed away shortly after if was rejected, in 1972.

As best as I can recall -- I was only 10 years old when my father died -- at some point after his death, my mother showed the article to somebody who had been in the publishing industry. According to this person, the main problem with the article is that there are no names. And of course he had passed away at that point, so it couldn't be fixed. At any rate, I find it to be a very good read, although I am obviously biased.

Voyage to China - click on link to read

Photos and Newspaper Article - Follow link to see additional photos, and a Baltimore Sun article about the Arisan Maru.

Discharge Papers - His discharge from the Army.


  1. I scanned the account from a type-written copy my mother had. I think I caught all the errors that the OCR software had problems with, but I might have missed some. Any errors are thus probably mine, not his.

  2. His middle name was Stevens, as is mine. I don't know why he has "by R. Stevens" and doesn't use "Overbeck".

Another Tale

The Liberation of Fort Bayard -- I had never read this article until my mother sent it to me recently. I never had any idea about it. It was handwritten. I typed it in. Any errors are probably mine. Fort Bayard is known today as Zhanjiang, China.

Letter from his Mother

Charles Stevens Overbeck