A Letter from Col. Morriss L. Shoss
My first military assignment on graduating from West Point in 1940 was to the harbor defenses of Manila and Subic Bays on Corregidor... I took my bride, who with all the other dependents was fortunately evacuated during May and June 1941 back to the USA.
I was the Executive Officer of Battery C (Cebu) of the 91st Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts. There were three American officers (Captain Gulick, I and Lt. Howard Irish, range officer for our TE83 AAA firing director).
After the dependents were evacuated, all the personnel of the 91st and 93rd CA (PS) worked around the clock planting the largest controlled mine field in history in Manila Bay. Then Battery C, augmented by two more American officers, was surreptitiously sent in covered barges to fort Wint in Subic Bay with our anti-aircraft artillery weapons. This secrecy paid off in our shooting down the first Japanese bombers shortly after [the] Pearl Harbor attack. When the Japanese landed on Luzon, we were ordered to move from Subic Bay to Bataan Peninsula, changing positions frequently and suffering loses of American officers and Scouts due to air attacks, which got me my first Purple Heart. When Bataan fell, our unit managed to move by barge to Corregidor, after destroying our anti-aircraft weapons. I was assigned Battery Morrison, twin 6-inch rifles, which were destroyed in one day of counter batter firing. I moved to Battery Grubbs, twin 8-inch rifles, which lasted on day. We were assigned two 155 mm. guns, GPG, WWI vintage. We fired directly into Japanese landing on Corregidor from our position along the outside of Malinta Hill. One gun was put out of action by fragment damage to the muzzle. My unit destroyed the remaining gun, placing the training round in the chamber, loading excessive bags of propellant and using a very long firing cord. The gun was blown up. I had my Scouts disperse away from the weapons and that was the last I saw of them. I joined an American engineering unit in its underground shelter and was captured by the Japanese as they overran the position.
As a POW, I was moved to Manila by ship, by train to Cabanatuan, then back to Manila and [by] ship to Davao penal colony for about two years, then by prison ship, Eri Maru (?) and then at Zamboanga, Shinyo Maru, which was sunk by the U.S. Submarine "Paddle" September 7, 1944. Of the 750 allied POW's, 82 survived.
About 8 of the survivors are holding our last annual reunion September 5-7, 2003, joined by 30 family members. In charge is the son of one of our survivors, Dave Johnson of Minneapolis.
Last modified: 11-May-2007