(AM-15: dp. 840,1. 187'10", b. 35'5"; dr. 8'10", s. 14 k., cpl.
61; a. 2 3", cl. Lapwinq)
Quail (AM-15) was laid down 14 May 1918 by the Chester Shipbuilding Co., Chester, Pa.; launched 6 October 1918; and commissioned 29 April 1919.
Qullil steamed to Kirkwall, Scotland, to join the North Sea Mine Sweeping Detachment. She operated with this force clearing the North Sea of mines until 25 November 1919.
She operated with the Atlantic Fleet in Cuban waters during early 1920, and then along the east coast. In September 1922, she was attached to the submarine base at Coco Solo, Canal Zone, operating in the Caribbean.
She made a cruise to the east coast in late 1923, and in 1925 she was at Philadelphia for repairs. In 1927 she spent time patrolling the west coast of Nicaragua, and later joined the fleet in the Caribbean for maneuvers. From July 1928 to January 1929, she was on the east coast, operating between Virginia and Massachusetts. She returned to Coco Solo in 1929. Following duty with the control force in the Panama Canal area from 1929 to 1931 Quail operated out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from 1931 to 1941, including in her duties a period of survey work off Alaska.
With the outbreak of war with Japan Quail was in the Philippines. During the defense of Corregidor, she swept a channel providing access to South Harbor, Corregidor. Her crew then went ashore to aid in the defense of that island. Damaged by enemy bombs and guns, Quail was scuttled 5 May 1942 by U S forces to prevent her capture. Part of her crew escaped to Darwin, Australia, in a 36-foot motor launch.
Quail received one battle star for World War II service.
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Quails are very small birds that belong to the pheasant and partridge species. The have a distinctive body shape with a small stocky body and long pointed wings. There are around 20 different species of quail found around the world, and 70 domestic quails are kept as poultry birds.
See the fact file below for more information on the quails or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Quail worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
World War II Pacific operations [ edit | edit source ]
With the outbreak of war with Japan Quail was in the Philippines. During the defense of Corregidor, she swept a channel providing access to South Harbor, Corregidor. Her crew then went ashore to aid in the defense of that island. Damaged by enemy bombs and guns, Quail was scuttled 5 May 1942 by U.S. forces to prevent her capture. Part of her crew, Lt Cmdr. John H Morrill and 17 others, escaped to Darwin, Australia, in a 36-foot motor launch.
15 Quick and Easy Medieval Expressions to Sound Epic Every Day
Save this list and you’ll always be able to go medieval on everyone during a conversation.
1. Pray Thee
Means: I am asking you or please.
Useful in many situations.
“Pray thee move your car so I can leave this obnoxious party.”
2. By my troth
Carries more weight to say this than “I promise”.
“By my troth, I will try to stop flirting with your brother.”
3. Going to siege
Means: To go to the bathroom
Makes going to the bathroom sound epic.
“Can you pause the she show? I’m going to siege and it will be a while.”
4. My peerless paramour
Put on your LARP cape for added effect.
“My peerless paramour, come to my mother’s basement with me this evening for there are pretzel sticks!”
5. My sweeting
“Don’t go with him, my sweeting, for his pretzel sticks are stale, come play Elder Scrolls with me instead!”
6. God spede you
An epic way to send someone off.
“Sir, god spede you and call me when you get home!”
7. Fare thee well
Rolls off the tongue and better than “have a good one”.
“Sir, we’re closing up, so finish your nachos and fare thee well.”
8. I cry your mercy
Slip this one in and you’ll have everyone’s attention.
“I cry your mercy, you yelled at which Jonas Brother?”
Hard to pull this one off, but you never know.
“Wait, you’re texting me from the toilet? I’ll talk to you anon.”
Means: Thank you, or to denote surprise (gramercy!)
“Gramercy for nothing, a**hole.”
11. Beshrew thee!
Because we always need more ways to express this.
12. Fie upon thee!
13. A plague upon thee!
Means: Again, this one also “Screw you!”
Okay, that should be enough for one freeway commute.
Maybe best not to shout this in mixed company.
“What ho! how fare thee? Please do not be alarmed by my codpiece.”
15. Couch a hogshead
Means: To lie down to sleep.
Do you even want to know the origin?
“Maybe I’ll couch a hogshead on the bus ride home.”
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Sailing into the Unknown
Choosing the uncertainty of an epic journey across 2,000 miles of enemy-controlled ocean rather than the ignominy of surrender, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Morrill and the crew of USS Quail escaped from the Philippines in a fragile 36-foot motor launch.
Jack Morrill knew there wouldn’t be room for everyone, but he had no choice. With luck, the 36-foot boat could handle maybe 18 men. “We’ll draw straws,” he said. “Some will stay, some will go.”
It was May 6, 1942, and the Japanese were about to overrun the island fortress of Corregidor. The fall of “the Rock” would be the final step in Emperor Hirohito’s quest for complete control of the Philippines and unquestioned dominance of the western Pacific, extinguishing for good the old European powers’ centuries-long influence in the region. More than five months of suffering, dwindling supplies, sunken ships and dead friends had already pushed the fortress’ American and Filipino defenders to the brink of surrender. Then, during two fateful days in early May, a relentless deluge of Japanese artillery, air power and infantry finished the job.
With Corregidor in its death throes, Lt. Cmdr. John H. Morrill and the 24 men he commanded were huddled in a tunnel complex beneath Fort Hughes on nearby Caballo Island. The day before, the captain had reluctantly scuttled his damaged ship, the wooden-hulled minesweeper USS Quail, and put in at Caballo. Surrender, however, was not an option for the career Navy man. Against daunting odds, the 1924 Annapolis graduate had decided that he would somehow find a way to flee the doomed American garrison at Fort Hughes and make his way to the Allied stronghold of Darwin, Australia—a mere 1,900 miles away!
Even under the best of conditions, a voyage like that would be a challenge. In Morrill’s case, the sojourn would force him to deal with the additional threat of navigating across stretches of ocean swarming with Japanese ships, doing so with a crew that had been battered and bruised during the grueling final battle for the Philippines. A weaker—or wiser—man would have considered such a feat futile, but not Morrill, who was inspired by General Douglas MacArthur’s own escape by sea from Corregidor to the island of Mindanao two months earlier. For Morrill, however, there was no hope of heavily armed, lightning-quick PT-boats escorting him to a swift passenger plane that could whisk him away to safety. Instead, the commander would need to rely on luck and his own skill in mastering the intricacies of seamanship on the open ocean.
As Morrill contemplated his escape, about all that remained afloat in Manila Harbor amid the twisted wreckage of a once-proud oceangoing fleet was Quail’s 36-foot motor launch with its aging and unreliable diesel engine. Shortly before scuttling his ship, Morrill had hidden the open boat in a sheltered cove on Caballo, for just such a getaway.
With Fort Hughes being battered into rubble by the stream of shells, Morrill tried to salvage what he could from the recently sunken tug Ranger, which was resting on the harbor’s shallow bottom, half out of the water. On the tug was a treasure trove of supplies, including four automatic weapons and six Springfield rifles, cases of tinned corned beef and salmon, and charts and maps. Most important, Morrill and his men found 450 gallons of diesel fuel—too little to get them to Australia, but sufficient to help them escape their Caballo hellhole.
It was at that point, however, that Morrill faced a decision no commander wants to confront. The size of the motor launch meant that as many as seven men would have to stay behind. Those who remained would almost certainly find themselves POWs or worse, but there was no other option. To be as fair as possible, Morrill decided that drawing straws was the best recourse. It helped that some of the men opted out, willing to await the mercy of Japanese jailers to the unknown perils of a fragile boat on the open sea. Among the men lucky enough to find a space on the commander’s getaway vessel was gunnery officer Donald G. “Guns” Taylor, who limped severely from ulcers and sores on his leg and foot caused by jungle rot. Although Morrill feared Taylor would be a liability on the trip, his intense loyalty to Guns was the deciding factor.
Also chosen was a master mechanic named Richardson, who would be desperately needed to keep the boat’s engine running. Richardson was outranked by other engineers on Quail, but he had a magic touch when it came to motors. He, too, was one of the few men who Morrill insisted make the trip.
Another was a pharmacist’s mate named Head, who was the closest thing to a doctor the men would have. The slightly stooped Head had thick black hair that had begun to gray at the temples. He had already proved his worth to the men of Quail several months earlier by securing a good supply of vitamin supplements for them following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Head, though, was on the verge of being left behind. During the final hours of American resistance, he had been called upon to help in the Fort Hughes sick bay, where a seemingly endless flow of injured men had come. Morrill sent one of his men to retrieve Head, who dashed to the boat, arriving just in time.
At 1015 hours on May 6, during a rare lull in the enemy bombardment, the crew shoved off into the great unknown. No sooner had Morrill and his men departed than the Japanese resumed their shelling of Fort Hughes. Had the captain waited another 20 minutes, they might not have gotten away.
The first obstacle the Americans faced was their own mine-filled harbor. Touching one of those barely submerged hazards would have blown the launch to matchsticks. But since Morrill had commanded a minesweeper, his men knew what to look for. They made their way cautiously, keeping a sharp lookout for a Japanese gunboat believed to be lurking in a nearby cove.
At 0100 hours on the 7th, the men observed three destroyers and a patrol boat in the distance ahead. Morrill turned back to a half-hidden cove within sight of Corregidor, where the men camouflaged their boat with fronds and branches and tried to get a few moments of rest. Even though the boat had just set out, Morrill could already see that his hungry and exhausted men could not continue on half-rations. He ordered the tins of meat opened and allowed his crew to eat their fill. That evening, refreshed by food and rest, they started to remove the camouflage. They had not gotten far, however, when they spotted a Japanese destroyer heading for their cove. The men grabbed their weapons as the enemy ship pulled in.
Every member of the crew realized that a single shot would destroy them, and each experienced heart-pounding fear while praying that they hadn’t been spotted. Mercifully they were not discovered, and the next morning the enemy destroyer lazily weighed anchor and steamed off.
On May 8, Morrill and his men watched from their hideout as the Japanese started taking prisoners off Corregidor and the other surrounding Philippine islands. It was a terrible sight the prisoners standing tightly packed on the decks of the enemy gunboats had been stripped to their skivvies. The crew knew that their friends and shipmates were among that mass of humanity.
As Morrill and his men were pondering the fate of their unfortunate comrades in arms, thousands of miles away in Philadelphia, Pa., a telegram was making its way to the commander’s wife. She, like hundreds of other worried spouses, would receive the dreaded War Department telegram that read, “REGRET TO ADVISE YOU THAT PENDING FURTHER INFORMATION YOUR HUSBAND IS MISSING.”
Unaware of the heartache at home, the Quail fugitives set out again. As they slowly motored on, they cautiously watched several Japanese patrol boats and destroyers lined in a screen, all playing their searchlights over the water looking for stray U.S. vessels. Suddenly three destroyers emerged from the dark and rushed past without spotting them. Morrill figured that there must be a hole in the Japanese screen as the destroyers went by, so he followed in their wake, moving safely through the dragnet.
The next morning the Americans landed on the southwest coast of Luzon beyond the enemy activity in Manila Bay. Since none of the men was familiar with the shore, they chose to stay outside the reef for the day. The sailors realized that their boat’s Navy gray paint would give them away, so they disguised it with a coat of black paint that somehow had made its way aboard. While the men were applying the paint, Morrill also noticed that the bobbing craft was riding too low in the water to have any hope of making the crossing he envisioned.
A motor launch is designed for harbor use, transferring sailors from ship to shore and back. The one taken from Quail was flat-bottomed and would run rough on the high seas or in a storm. Morrill would have to lighten the craft to keep it from being swamped. Spare anchors were jettisoned, as were the old Lewis machine guns. Even the brass taffrail and other frills were torn away, which at least had the benefit of altering the boat’s basic appearance.
After discarding everything that could be spared, Morrill determined to run the Verde Island passage that separates Luzon from Mindoro. He could see enemy craft patrolling throughout the day and reasoned that they were looking for him and his crew. To make matters worse, the launch’s aging motor, which had not been run or repaired for months, began gushing oil. Richardson informed his captain that it would have to be repaired, but for the moment they would have to make do. The leaking oil was collected, and every hour or so they stopped the engine and poured the oil back in. For this task, they covered the motor with a tarpaulin and worked by flashlight, knowing they couldn’t allow any light to escape.
By the time dawn broke, the men found themselves at the small Luzon village of Digas. They did not know what to expect from the villagers, but they had to put in. To their surprise and delight, the Filipinos were anxious to help. They brought food in abundance and, seeing that the men were without utensils, fashioned wooden spoons and coconut shell bowls for them.
The next temporary haven was in the village of Bomdoc, where the crew rested. Again the villagers treated them royally, providing food and more supplies. Richardson was desperate to overhaul the engine, to which Morrill consented. Four of the men worked feverishly in the hot sun, stripping the engine to its bedplates. One of the pistons was so badly aligned that it was banging against the cylinder head. It was a wonder the head hadn’t cracked.
With repairs made and everyone fed, Morrill and his men once again set out on the evening of May 13, the rebuilt engine purring in their ears. The Americans could now make a respectable 5 or 6 knots.
The high spirits were soon dashed— several Japanese patrol boats had formed a screen through the narrow passage of the Sibuyan Sea. In the dark, Morrill quietly steered the boat between two of the enemy vessels, but to his horror the tide pushed the launch back. The crewmen couldn’t make any progress that night until the current changed in their favor and carried them past the picket line.
Early on May 15, the little boat reached the island of Cebu. It approached a stretch of the shore where stately homes dominated the beach. Unlike the welcoming villagers at their last two stops, the people here seemed completely uninterested in their arrival. “Guns, what do you make of it?” Morrill asked Taylor. “I don’t like it,” the gunnery officer replied. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” Morrill responded, and turned the boat back out to sea. It was only later that the Americans learned Japanese officers had taken over the stately homes along the shore, and their habit of rising late had spared the sailors a much more terrifying greeting.
Back at sea and with the sun now shining brightly, Morrill decided to risk a daylight run between Cebu and Leyte. At first it went well—no boats in the water, no planes overhead. But at midday the relative calm came to an end. As the boat rounded the head of a little island, the crew came upon a Japanese tanker a mere 6,000 yards away bearing down on them. The men dived under a tarp on the shallow deck while Head—with his mangy black hair, which from a distance allowed him to pass as a Filipino—manned the tiller. The tanker passed within 3,000 yards, but its crew showed no signs of recognition or suspicion.
That afternoon the Americans managed to pass over a reef and into sheltered Tabango Bay on Leyte. They tied up to the dock and were made to feel quite welcome. The wealthiest man in the village invited the crew to his home for a meal. He also advised Morrill that for the next two days or so the Japanese would be busy processing all their new POWs into prison camps. On the third day they would have a victory celebration and then would rest the following day. After that, however, they would be out again in earnest, looking for escapees such as Morrill and his crew. “By that time, you had better be out of Philippine waters,” he counseled the commander.
Not to be outdone by the old man’s hospitality, a Chinese merchant insisted on hosting the fugitives for dinner at a local restaurant. Liquor flowed, served to them by Chinese girls and mestizas (half-Chinese, half-Filipina). The girls offered to dance for the crew that evening, but alarm bells went off in Morrill’s head. It would not do to have drunken sailors involved in local entanglements that might send jealous boyfriends off to alert the enemy. For all he knew, the Japanese had already been informed of their presence and were on their way. It would be beyond embarrassing to be captured while carousing with the local lovelies, he figured, so he politely declined the offer on behalf of his disappointed men. There were more important things to worry about.
Meanwhile, Head had purchased a day-old Manila newspaper that reported that American and Filipino soldiers who had been holding out around the islands were now following the orders of Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, Allied commander of the Far East, to surrender to the Japanese. That bad news dashed any of the Quail fugitives’ hopes that they could join a guerrilla band rather than attempt the hazardous crossing to Australia.
By May 17, the small boat had run through squalls and rough seas to reach the northern shore of Mindanao. Even the staunchest seamen among the crew were exhausted from the boat’s constant lurching and their endless bailing. Morrill knew they needed some shore rest before attempting the next leg of their passage.
A Chinese merchant in Mindanao sold the Americans more fuel and provisions and warned that the Japanese were on their way. That night the men counted six patrol boats scouring the nearby waters for them.
Once again the Quail crew could not stay long. As the men slept on the beach the following night, they were awakened by the loud motor of a patrol boat entering the bay where they were moored. Working as silently as possible, they loaded the boat, pulled up its anchor and headed back to the open sea.
From Mindanao they passed into the Pacific Ocean. Given his many close encounters with enemy ships, Morrill feared that it was only a matter of time before his luck would run out. He decided to give the rest of the island a wide berth.
The Americans were headed east, away from the comforting sight of land. Morrill soon discovered that the sextant he had taken from the wrecked Ranger had been left behind on Caballo, meaning he had no instruments to help navigate. The veteran sailors knew that out on the open ocean they could easily drift hundreds of miles off course, with disastrous consequences.
Living up to the maxim that adversity is the mother of invention, the Americans fashioned a makeshift sextant from parallel rulers and cardboard. The improvised instrument required them to look with unprotected eyes into the sun to take their bearings, but there was no alternative.
Morrill set a course for the East Indies. He understood that if anything went wrong, he couldn’t expect much comfort from the locals there, who were known to care little for either the Americans or the Japanese.
The fugitives had no choice but to keep moving both day and night. They remained out of sight of land until they reached Morotai, the northernmost island in the East Indies. Morotai, however, was reputed to have a Japanese garrison, so they gave it a wide berth.
Morrill did his best to find uninhabited places to land for water and rest, but it was rarely easy. At one point, after turning off the motor as they were landing, the men found out that they couldn’t restart the engine. Its battery had died.
The shore was too rocky to beach the boat, so the men worked in the surge up to their thighs. Tying a rope to the propeller blades and shaft, they pulled on it, hoping to turn the engine over. After repeated failures, one of the men wrapped sticks around the smooth surface of the shaft. That provided the needed friction, and after a few more yanks on the rope, the motor kicked over and the men jumped back in the boat, exhausted but happy.
No one knew what to expect in the East Indies. Since neither American dollars nor Philippine pesos were of any use, barter seemed to be their only option. They quickly realized, however, that they had little of value with which to trade. Fortunately, pharmacist’s mate Head had his medical supplies and other gear onboard and proved to be a fountain of ingenuity. He bargained hard for food and fuel, trading medicines, undershirts and underpants—all in high demand.
Language was another problem. One of the crew spoke some Dutch, but the Dutch colonial administration of the East Indies apparently had made little impression on the locals, so Head resorted to communicating through gestures and nods.
At one stop, on the small island of Keor (or Kur), the locals gestured that they simply wanted the Americans to go away. The crewmen were ready to acquiesce, fearing they might be betrayed for what surely must be a sizable Japanese bounty for the capture of Americans. But their boat’s engine and precarious drive train had to be fixed before any further attempt to Australia could be made. Therefore, much to the dismay of the local population, the men beached the launch. When the villagers tried to intervene, only the superior firepower of the Americans’ modern weapons kept them back.
The hull was scraped while the mechanics took apart the propeller drive shaft to make hasty repairs. Once again American ingenuity saved the day. Richardson had spent days carving and sanding a piece of hardwood to the dimensions of the engine’s spent stainless steel bearing. When the wood replica was inserted in its place, it worked.
The villagers were evidently happy when the crew cast off from Keor the next morning. The men struggled to Molol (Molu) Island to make a final supply purchase before embarking on their last long dash to the safety of Australia. While cautiously entering the lagoon, they spotted an anchored lugger, which quickly ran up the Japanese flag. The Americans froze, knowing there was no escape. However, as soon as the lugger crew realized that the 36-foot launch held Americans and not Japanese, it ran down the flag. It was another close call.
While Head bartered for water and food, a local schoolteacher who could speak some English told the captain that both New Zealand and Tasmania had fallen to the Japanese. Even then, he said, fighting was raging in southern Australia. The little band of fugitives had been out of touch for so long that they did not know what to believe.
On May 31, Morrill began the final stretch of his odyssey. He opened up the engine for the first time, letting the launch run at full speed as it passed through the Arafura Sea. The men were in high spirits, talking about what they would do when they reached Australia—the food they would eat, the women they would meet.
That night, however, Morrill was rudely awakened by a wave splashing over the gunnels, in the worst storm he had experienced. He throttled back the motor and held the boat so that the surging waves were a quarter off his port beam. By doing that, he could crest each 8-foot swell without slamming the boat against the trough of water between them. For hours he held fast to the tiller without being relieved, while the crew bailed desperately. There was no margin for error. The slightest mistake in steering would sink the boat.
With the makeshift sextant, Morrill and his crew managed to find the lee of a small island that sheltered them from the teeth of the storm. On June 4 they reached Melville Island, just north of Darwin. There, they were at last among friends. An Australian missionary fed them the first Western meal they had had in months. During their five-month battle in Manila Bay, they had been constantly on short rations and high tension. Their monthlong voyage had changed all that. The men looked tan and fit. They had all gained weight and regained health. Even Taylor’s leg was healing nicely. Now it was nearly over. They learned with relief that Australia was safe for the moment from Japanese attack, although Darwin, their final destination, was being bombed almost daily.
At midnight on June 6, the motley crew made what must have seemed a leisurely trip over to Darwin. The boat sailed over the bar and into the busy harbor. Perhaps the men expected the news of their escape to precede them, but it had not. In fact, instead of being greeted with a celebration, they were detained as soon as they docked by the understandably suspicious Australian Shore Patrol. Even after the crewmen convinced their hosts of their identity, they were at loose ends—they had no money and no place to stay.
Fortunately, a U.S. Army Air Forces officer took the men under his wing, fed them, provided what clothing he could and made arrangements for their transportation south. Within a few weeks, Quail’s survivors were reassigned and scattered to the four corners of what was now a truly global conflict.
There was no official celebration for what they had accomplished, but in Philadelphia at least, Mrs. Morrill received a welcome telegram. It read: “HOW ARE YOU? I AM WELL. —Jack.”
Glenn Barnett teaches history at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. For further reading, see The Lonely Ships: The Life and Death of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, by Edwin P. Hoyt.
Originally published in the November 2006 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.
“I Think I Can Get You Through”
Lieutenant Commander John Morrill didn’t care what the officer from the USS Tanager (AM-5) thought. He was leaving and the sailors gathered around him could join him or they could stay. It was May 6, 1942. Earlier that day, U.S. Army General Jonathon Wainwright had surrendered Corregidor to the Japanese, ending five months of stubborn but increasingly hopeless resistance.
Now, Morrill, commanding officer of the USS Quail (AM-15), was standing in the stern of a 36-foot diesel-powered boat idling in Manila Bay, asking the remnants of his crew if they wanted to come along with him in the open boat as he made his way through the Japanese cordon to Mindanao, 600 miles away.
Damned Fast if We Are Going
Though white flags had been raised over Corregidor’s battered topside barracks and over the island forts that dotted the bay, Japanese artillery was still blasting American positions and the sound of machine gun and small arms fire drifted across the water. LCDR Morrill had received no direct orders to surrender himself or his crew, and he wasn’t inclined to wait for any. Even before the Japanese had landed on Corregidor, communications between American units had been spotty at best, and with Quail now sunk in the bay – scuttled by Morrill and his crew a few hours ago – Morrill had no way to communicate with anyone else.
Having completed his last mission, Morrill had gathered the remnants of his crew in two small boats off Caballo Island, two miles from Corregidor. In the evening darkness he told them of his plan and invited them to join him.
“You all know that the situation is,” he said. “On a logical basis your chances of remaining alive are probably better staying here, and some of our officers feel that escape is impossible.” Already the Japanese were tightening the noose of search planes, destroyers, patrol boats, and barges that had surrounded Manila Bay since December.
But five months of brutal warfare against the Japanese had convinced the Quail crewmen that they were unlikely to experience humane treatment if captured. If there was a chance to avoid surrender, most were eager to take it.
“I think I can get you through,” said Morrill. But, he added, “We’ve got to get out of here damned fast if we are going.”
Abandoned to Their Fate
Morrill and his crew had watched ruefully when the Asiatic fleet’s major surface ships had been ordered out of Manila Bay as war became increasingly likely. On December 7, all three of the fleet’s cruisers and nine of thirteen destroyers were well south of Manila. The fleet’s 29 submarines had remained in Manila, along with the tender USS Canopus, to defend against the expected invasion, but they achieved no significant successes against the actual landings and by the end of December all of the submarines were gone as well. Canopus remained to support the PT boats, minesweepers, and gunboats that were left, until April 9 when the steadfast old tender was scuttled by her crew in Mariveles Bay on Bataan as Japanese forces advanced to the tip of the embattled peninsula.
By then the PT boats were gone, too, having left on the night of March 11 to carry General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and his key staff south to Mindanao.
As the Japanese battered American and Filipino defenses on Bataan, more than 2,500 U.S. Navy sailors and officers had been left to their fate on Bataan and Corregidor, including the crews of the tender Canopus, the salvage vessel Pigeon, six minesweepers, five gunboats, and two tugs the members of Patrol Wing Ten whose aircraft had all been destroyed and hundreds of support personnel from the base at Cavite.
A handful of Navy personnel had been evacuated, including the cryptanalysts assigned to the radio intelligence unit at Cavite, but as the allied defenses crumbled, nearly everyone else found themselves drafted to support army or marine units as gunners, communicators, runners, or infantry. More than 500 sailors from various units along with a handful of Marines and Filipino troops were organized into a naval battalion by Commander Frank Bridget and despite their almost total lack of training fought credibly on Bataan.
An aerial view of Corregidor Island, Philippines.
photo: U.S. Department of Defense
The Last Missions
The minesweepers, though, had retained their crews, as the 188-foot ships were still able to provide useful service to the troops ashore. Armed with a pair of three-inch guns and a handful of machine guns, the little ships provided gunfire support to troops on Bataan, patrolled against Japanese landing attempts along the coast, and provided anti-aircraft support wherever they happened to be. They also transported troops and supplies as needed and maintained the mine field that stretched across the mouth of Manila Bay.
Once Bataan fell, the sweepers had just one more critical job: opening a second channel through the minefield so that boats from Corregidor could exit the bay to rendezvous with US submarines that might arrive on resupply or evacuation missions. The original swept channel was too close to Bataan, now that Japanese artillery could be placed anywhere on the peninsula.
During the next few weeks, the crews of the three surviving minesweepers worked each night to clear the channel. Eventually, more than a third of Quail’s crew were drafted to serve ashore as gunners, taking several of the ship’s machine guns with them. As Japanese bombing and shelling of Corregidor intensified, and the entire bay fell within range of Japanese guns, the remaining crew of the minesweeper moved ashore during daylight hours, returning to the ship at dark to continue work on the minefield.
The final submarine mission was completed on May 3, when the USS Spearfish evacuated six Navy officers, six Army officers, eleven Army nurses, one Navy nurse, and the wife of a Navy officer. As the submarine was departing, the Japanese unleashed a massive artillery barrage that signaled the beginning of their final assault on Corregidor. The initial Japanese landing took place on May 5.
On the night of May 5, Morrill, the ship’s three other officers, 24 crewmen, and an additional officer from the sunken Tanager, made their way back out to the Quail to man the ship’s remaining guns. The rest of the minesweeper’s crew was ordered to man defensive positions on Corregidor. The next morning, May 6, as Japanese troops advanced on Corregidor, Morrill and his men were ordered to leave Quail on the ship’s boats and head to Fort Hughes, a coastal artillery battery on Caballo Island, two miles south of Corregidor, where the sailors would man anti-aircraft guns.
They were there that afternoon when General Wainwright surrendered Corregidor.
U.S. troops surrendering to Japanese soldiers at Corregidor Island, Philippines, May 1942.
At first, no orders to surrender were sent to Fort Hughes. Instead, Morrill was ordered to take a party out to the anchored and abandoned Quail, which, despite unrelenting Japanese air attacks, was somehow still afloat, and scuttle the ship.
Morrill and five men made the trip in a small boat, braving Japanese dive bombers, artillery, and machine gun fire. After boarding Quail, breaking open valves to flood the ship, and setting demolition charges in the magazine, they hurried off. As they doubted that they could make it back to Caballo’s dock against the Japanese planes and artillery, they took refuge on the wreck of the Ranger, a Navy tug which had been abandoned by her crew and was beached in shallow water near the island.
While they waited for darkness aboard the Ranger, they grabbed anything they thought they could use on a voyage south, including charts, binoculars, a sextant, navigating instruments, rifles, food, water, lubricating oil, cigarettes, dynamite, and four drums of diesel fuel. Finally, the sun set and they made their way to their anchored 36-foot diesel-powered whaleboat – an open boat used as a workboat – which Morrill planned to use for their escape.
As they stowed their supplies aboard the diesel boat, the other boat went back to Caballo and returned with around twenty members of Quail’s crew and the officer from Tanager. When Morrill offered them the choice of heading south in the diesel boat or returning to Caballo and captivity, several opted for Caballo.
For some, the months of constant tension, short rations, disease, death, the knowledge that they had been abandoned, and the shock of Corregidor’s sudden capitulation had been too much. They were exhausted, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Though it had been apparent for months that no reinforcements were coming to the Philippines, the finality of their predicament and the uncertainty of their fate still shocked many of the Americans.
“I want to go,” one petty officer told Morrill, “but I just haven’t got the heart to make any more effort. I placed all of my faith in the Rock not surrendering, and now that it has, it just seems that the bottom has fallen out of everything.”
Altogether, sixteen members of Quail’s crew joined Morrill in the diesel boat and made ready to go. Fully loaded, the boat had just six inches of freeboard, so once they were clear of Manila Bay, they would need to toss out some of their gear. They expected the boat to average four nautical miles per hour when underway.
But first they needed to get out of Manila Bay. And before they could do that, they needed to return to the Caballo dock and pick up one final crewman who had earlier begged to be included.
That done, the 36’ boat, crammed with eighteen navy men, with its gunwales just six inches above the waves, got underway. Ahead lay many hundreds of miles of shoal water, unknown currents, unseen reefs, pounding surf, and thousands of islands – many occupied by the Japanese – all heavily patrolled by Japanese ships, boats, and aircraft.
More Patrol Boats Than We Could Count
Their plan was to travel by night and hide each day in small coves along lightly populated sections of the coast. They thought that villagers – when encountered – would likely be friendly, but they also knew that there were Japanese sympathizers on the islands and that Japanese troops were already posted throughout the archipelago. Further, they knew that their presence would be extremely dangerous for any Filipinos in the area if the Japanese found out that they had been there. So, their goal was to minimize any contact with locals and to avoid Japanese troops at all cost, though they also knew that they would need to obtain food, water, and fuel at times to complete their journey.
As they motored out of Manila Bay, they had just a few hours of darkness until the moon rose and visibility would increase. They hoped to make as much distance as they could before they had to stop and hide.
But the officer from the Tanager – who had declined to join them – had been correct. Japanese destroyers and patrol boats were everywhere. In the first several hours they encountered four enemy destroyers and, in Morrill’s words, “more patrol boats than we could count.”
They knew, though, that in the dark they were almost impossible to see from any distance. Sitting low in the water, with no deck structure at all, from hundreds of yards away their boat would appear to be a log as long as everyone aboard kept down and they showed no lights at all. They also hoped that if they ever were spotted, they might be mistaken for a Filipino fishing craft.
As the moon rose, they pulled into a small cove on the Luzon coast and quickly began cutting branches and small trees to conceal their boat. Later, when dawn arrived, they were shocked to find out that they had barely made five miles against the current. They could actually see Corregidor in the distance.
They got a bigger shock a few minutes later when a Japanese search plane flew directly over them at a height of 500 feet. But the Japanese pilot apparently never saw them and no Japanese boats or patrols approached.
During that first day, hidden in the trees and rocks near their camouflaged boat, they saw numerous Japanese warships and patrol boats pass by. In the morning they saw a column of sixteen patrol boats heading for Manila Bay. In the afternoon they saw the same column heading the other way with their decks now crammed with American prisoners – as many as 2,400 they estimated.
As darkness fell, they uncovered the boat and prepared to get underway. But they stopped abruptly when a Japanese destroyer entered the cove heading straight toward them. Fortunately, the warship was looking for a place to anchor for the night, not for a boatload of American sailors. Intent on anchoring securely in the unfamiliar waters, the Japanese crew never spotted the Americans, just 500 yards away.
Safe for the moment, the Americans were trapped where they lay. They spent an uncomfortable night staring at the Japanese ship, clutching their weapons, and listening for sounds of anyone approaching. In the morning the Japanese left, but there was no way the Americans could get underway in the daylight. They spent a second day hidden in the cove. That night, as they again prepared to leave, another Japanese destroyer – or perhaps the same one – approached their hiding place. But this time the ship pulled into a neighboring cove to anchor. Holding their breath, the Americans slowly edged their way out of the cove and into the darkened channel.
Across the Pacific if We Had to
For 31 days they made their way south, jumping from island to island through the Philippines and the East Indies, avoiding Japanese patrols, steering clear of heavily populated islands, but receiving generous help and courageous support from countless friendly villagers, rich and poor, that they met on the way.
Over and over again, as they made their way through the Philippines, they were offered food, water, shelter, and information about Japanese activity. Early in their voyage they were told that Mindanao was occupied by the Japanese. Okay, they figured, then they would just have to continue on to Australia. It was 1,400 miles farther south, but they were determined to avoid falling into the hands of the Japanese. If they had learned that Darwin was in Japanese hands, Morrill later wrote, “We wouldn’t give ourselves up. We would seize a boat bigger than ours, one that could go across the Pacific if we had to.”
They didn’t end up crossing the Pacific, but they did cross more than 1,000 miles of roiling open water between the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. Their undecked, flat-bottomed, and overloaded boat, never intended to survive ocean storms, struggled through heaving seas while the crew bailed continuously for hours, but they pushed through.
During their voyage they evaded countless Japanese patrol vessels, weathered several serious storms, and rebuilt the engine of their boat – finishing the task, as Morrill wryly noted, “with no pieces left over.” Their engineer even carved a bearing from driftwood to repair the boat’s stern tube.
Finally, on June 3, they sighted the coast of Australia. On June 6 they skirted the anti-submarine net and motored into the harbor at Darwin. They had completed a voyage of nearly 2,200 miles in a 36’ open boat through the Japanese-occupied Philippines and East Indies, and escaped what would have been an astonishingly brutal captivity.
Crew members of USS Quail (AM-15) at Darwin, following their escape from Corregidor, 1942
photo: US Navy
Not the Only Ones
Morrill and his crew were not the only Americans to avoid capture by the Japanese in the Philippines. Many hundreds of Americans managed to evade Japanese troops for at least a time, while a smaller number – probably fewer than one hundred – joined groups of Filipino and American guerillas. These intrepid men spent the years of the Japanese occupation providing intelligence to American forces in Australia and, especially later in the war, mounting attacks against Japanese forces. But the Japanese were brutal and relentless occupiers, and many American and Filipino guerillas were caught and killed.
There is even an account of two American Army officers named Damon Gause and William Osborne who avoided capture and eventually made their way out of the islands in a decrepit 22-foot fishing boat and were picked up by an Australian Navy ship.
The U.S. Army reported that 25,580 American soldiers were captured in the Philippines between Dec 7, 1941 and May 10, 1942 and 10,650 died in captivity. The U.S. Marine Corps reported that 1,487 members of the 4 th Marines were captured on Corregidor and 474 died in captivity. More than 33,000 Filipino soldiers were also captured at Bataan and Corregidor.
Of the 70 crewmen known to be aboard the USS Quail in October, 1941, 52 were captured by the Japanese. Like all of the other American prisoners, they endured a hellish three years of forced labor, starvation rations, primitive medical care, repeated beatings, and executions. Sixteen died in captivity.
Morrill and 15 of the 17 men who accompanied him survived the war. Upon arrival in Darwin, thirteen men were allowed a few weeks rest and then were assigned to various ships or units in the Southwest Pacific. Several were on ships that were later sunk, and one man – Chief Quartermaster Philip Binkley – was aboard the destroyer USS Jarvis when she disappeared with all hands after being torpedoed during the U.S. landing at Guadalcanal in August, 1942. The remaining five, including Morrill, were transferred to commands in the United States. Morrill was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in scuttling the Quail while the five men who assisted him received Silver Stars.
LCDR Morrill at Darwin, June 1942
Morrill returned to combat during the invasion of Palau in 1944 as commodore of a flotilla of large landing craft (LCI’s). He retired as a Rear Admiral in 1955.
February 18, 2021
Morrill, John and Martin, Pete South from Corregidor Simon and Schuster, NY 1943.
Waldron, Ben D. and Burneson, Emily Corregidor: From Paradise to Hell Pine Hill Press Freeman, South Dakota 1988.
Williams, Greg The Last Days of the United States Asiatic Fleet McFarland and Company Jefferson, NC 2018.
Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds generally placed in the order Galliformes.
- Gould, 1844 subfamily PerdicinaeHorsfield, 1821(partial)
- Anurophasisvan Oort, 1910
- CoturnixGarsault, 1764
- OphrysiaBonaparte, 1856
- PerdiculaHodgson, 1837
Old World quail are placed in the family Phasianidae, and New World quail are placed in the family Odontophoridae. The species of buttonquail are named for their superficial resemblance to quail, and form the family Turnicidae in the order Charadriiformes. The king quail, an Old World quail, often is sold in the pet trade, and within this trade is commonly, though mistakenly, referred to as a "button quail". Many of the common larger species are farm-raised for table food or egg consumption, and are hunted on game farms or in the wild, where they may be released to supplement the wild population, or extend into areas outside their natural range. In 2007, 40 million quail were produced in the U.S. 
The collective noun for a group of quail is a flock, covey,  or bevy. 
Family-owned business. Erica and Marty with their children.
The Short Version by Marty Malloy, Owner Malloy Gamebirds
Gamebirds have always been a part of my life ever since I was old enough to do chores. My family kept chickens for years. One season, Dad and I decided to order a few pheasants. Let’s just say we tried! Pheasants weren’t easy and it became a challenge for me to produce a nice looking and good flying bird. After several months of reading books and searching for answers, we decided to give it another try. This time with better results, we had our first birds to actually release to hunt. The years went by and I slowly kept experimenting with birds in different pens. This would be what I considered the start of Malloy Gamebirds!
High school came and it was time to get a real job that made money, so I went to work for a quail farmer nearby. Basically scooping you-know-what and cleaning pens was the extent of my work there at Hawkeye Quail, owned by Delos Honeck. It was a small scale quail operation of about 6,000 to 7,000 annually. Far more than my 20 pheasants! After many years of helping Delos with chores, cleaning, and some sales, I thought this could be a great side business to start up.
While attending college at Iowa State University, I received a bachelor’s in Animal Ecology with a minor in Horticulture. The business on the side slowly kept growing throughout those years. I increased to about 300 pheasant a year and still helped Delos with his quail business as well. Then came the year when Delos told me to try some quail, the only stipulation was that I couldn’t sell any of mine until he sold his first. Another year of no profit!
In 2002, Delos was ready to retire from his quail business so I purchased the farm and business together and started expanding operations. In 2003, I was selling nearly 8,000 quail annually and 1,500 pheasant. My lovely wife Erica, who also has a degree in Animal Ecology, joined the craziness in 2008. We added Scout, a labrador in 2009, our son, Garrett came along in 2012, and daughter Keira in 2014. In 2015 we raised 20,000 mature quail, 10,000 mature pheasant, and 1,500 chukar along with shipping out over 40,000 eggs.
With expansion on the farm every year, we’ve set our goals to raise over 25,000 mature quail, 14,000 mature pheasant, 3,500 mature chukar and to ship 100,000 eggs. We continue to set goals annually and strive to produce great flying, healthy birds for all of our customers to enjoy. Give me a call at 641-485-9053 and let me know how we can put our experience to work and meet your gamebird needs.
California Quail populations showed a small increase between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 3.8 million, With 71% living in the U.S., 3% in Canada, and 11% in Mexico. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. California Quail is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. These are popular game birds, and between 800,000 and 1.2 million are shot each year in California alone. This level of hunting pressure does not seem to be hurting California Quail populations.Back to top
As we’ve seen, there’s a quail bird breed for just about every need. If you need a quail bird for meat and eggs, the Coturnix quail is what you’re probably looking for. If, however, you need a bird that can offer you meat, eggs, and sport, then the Bobwhite quail is your best option.
California Quails are great for pleasure and aesthetics, while Button Quails rank as the most desirable pet quail. If you want the thrill of a wild quail, then you’ll find one in a Blue-scale quail. Indeed, there’s a quail breed for everyone.