Coloradan discovers, publishes harrowing World War II escape story

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Illustration of boat South from Corregidor
A sketch of the boat that carried a group of sailors 2,000 miles from the Philippines to Darwin, Australia.

It began on a sweltering night in the Philippines on May 6, 1942. The Philippines had fallen to the Japanese and, to avoid becoming prisoners of war, a group of U.S. sailors hopped into a small, open boat and traveled 2,000 miles to Australia.

Lieutenant Colonel John Morrill was the group’s leader and wrote about the journey when he returned to the United States. It ran in a series of articles in the Saturday Evening Post beginning in December 1942. The story was essentially forgotten until Tim and Mike Deal republished it recently as a book, “South from Corregidor.”

The account follows the men as they journey south, always fearful that they would be discovered by the Japanese. The boat was 36-feet long and not designed for such a lengthy voyage.

Photo of boat South from Corregidor
A photo of the crew as the make their way to Australia.

A little over a month later, the men landed safely in Darwin, Australia, many returning to combat shortly after the experience.