1922, the U.S. Army reorganized the 15 Philippine Scout Coast Artillery
Companies. They were re-designated
as batteries and formed into two new regiments, the 91st and the 92d.
The 91st was organized at midnight, June 30, 1922 and received 8 of the
15 batteries as shown below:
Company redesignated as
1928, Batteries C, and D had been transferred to Ft. Mills. Battery E followed a
few years later. In the early
1930ís, Ft. Wint was
on a caretaker status and all but a
few members of Battery G were transferred to Ft. Mills.
Thereafter, all batteries, except Battery F, remained on Ft. Mills, until
October 1941 when Battery C was transferred to Ft. Wint.
enlisted personnel were Philippine Scouts.
Most officers were members of the U.S. Army, and served two year tours in
the Philippines. Nine men were
commissioned into the Philippine Scouts as Coast Artillery officers.
Two were Americans and seven were Filipinos.
They rotated in and out of the 91st, 92d, and staff assignments.
Two, James Smith and Francis Wilson, were former American Coast Artillery
sergeants. In 1912, Estaban Dalao
became the first Filipino to be commissioned into the Philippine Scouts.
He was followed by six others, two
of which, Jose Olivares and Bienvenido Alba, graduated from the U.S. Naval
Academy and one, Pastor Martelino, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy.
in the 91st was a great adventure for most American officers, and commanding
Scouts was a stimulating experience. The
Scouts were well trained, superb soldiers of a different race and culture.
Most had served in their batteries for many years and knew their jobs
thoroughly. It was an honor and a
privilege for them to be Scouts. Their
living conditions and health benefits on were better than those of the average
civilian. Scouts received one half
the pay of their American counterparts of the same rank.
This inequity was never resolved and in later years caused some hard
feelings. Even so, their pay was
above the average and enabled them to live better than their civilian peers.
a Scout was frequently a family affair. They
served in the 91st with their cousins, uncles and brothers.
It was not uncommon for the son of a Scout to join his father as a member
of the Regiment. Batteries were generally segregated by province and language.
The first sergeants were the battery recruiting officers.
They selected new recruits from their own province and or from those who
spoke the same dialect. This
provided for a more harmonious battery life.
enlisted men lived in the Middleside Barracks.
Married men lived with their families in Barrio Concepcion.
Married men stationed on Ft. Frank lived in Barrio Calumpan, a short
distance across the water from the Fort, on the shore of the Pico de Loro Hills.
lived a life of luxury, with servants and an inexpensive cost of living.
Social life revolved around the Corregidor Club with swimming, golf,
tennis, dining and dancing. The normal 4 to 5 hour workday provided ample time to pursue
social life and hobbies. Officers were normally provided one month a year of
detached service at the Army's rest camp, Camp John Hay in the cool mountain
province. Many officers visited the southern islands and or took terminal leave
and visited Japan, China, and or Indo-China at the end of their two-year tour.
91st had two different training periods, one for the dry season and one for the
rainy season. The annual training
season began in September with the outdoor training season.
This started with small arms practice for qualification and
requalification. Beach defense
maneuvers followed with the firing of machine guns, 37mm and 75mm guns.
These were followed by anti-alrcraft machine guns and sub-caliber
training on their main weapons. Right
after Christmas, the pressure was on to complete the annual target practice and
war condition period before the start of the rainy season.
was great effort made to obtain an "excellent" for the annual target
practice. This was accomplished
many times. Individual batteries
were in competition with all other Coast Artillery batteries to become the best
battery in the Coast Artillery and win the Knox Trophy. In 1932, Battery C won the Trophy and in 1937, Battery B took
third place. The Regiment was also
in competition to be become the best regiment in the Coast Artillery, but it
the rainy season came the Garrison or indoor training season. This consisted of
gunners instruction and indoor classes such as leadership and map reading.
played a very important part in the life of the 91st. Supervised athletic
periods were provided for in regimental training schedules.
These provided needed exercise, and instilled loyalty and pride within
the batteries and Regiment. The
91st had inter-battery leagues for baseball basketball, softball, duck pin, ten
pin (bowling) and volleyball. The
battery with the overall best sports record for the year won the coveted
Athletic Supremacy Trophy. The
best players from these sports, plus the best swimmers, boxers and track stars
were formed into Regimental teams to compete against the 92d for the Post
Championships in the Scout Division. This
competition formed a great sports rivalry between the 91st and the 92d.
The Post Championship Teams went to Manila to compete for the Philippine
Department Championships. In 1936,
Private Fidel Binsol of Battery E became the amateur light-weight champion of
had a wide range of assignments. They
manned their primary gun batteries and had secondary assignments consisting of
other gun batteries, beach defense, anti-aircraft machine guns, assisting the
Mine Group and performing fort maintenance duties. Prior to 1941, the Regiment
never had enough personnel to perform all duties simultaneously.
91st had two battalions. The First
Battalion was the Mine Group and consisted of Batteries A and G.
The Second Battalion was the "gun battalion" and included
Batteries B, C, D, E, and F. Primary
assignments during the 1930s were are as follows:
HQ and HQ Battery performed administrative duties, supplied
MPs for the Provost Marshall, and electricians and searchlight operators for Ft.
Battery A had three primary duties:
maintain the mine equipment and cables, lay and operate mine fields, and
man Battery Martin (two 155mm GPF guns).
Battery B manned Battery Morrison (two 6-inch guns) and
Battery James (four 3-inch guns).
Battery C changed its primary assignment during this
decade. It manned half of Battery
Geary (four 12-Inch mortars) then switched to manning Battery Morrison (two
6-inch guns), Battery James (four 3-inch guns) and mobile 155 mm GPF guns.
Battery D manned half of Battery Geary (four 12-inch
mortars). Although being stationed on Ft. Mills, it was also responsible for
manning Batteries Greer and Crofton (one 14-inch gun each) on Ft. Frank
Battery E manned Battery Grubbs (two 10-inch guns)
Battery F manned four 155mm GPF guns and four searchlights
on Ft. Fran
Army started making changes when it became apparent that the U.S. might get
involved in a war with Japan. Training
was intensified. It was decided to
turn most of the Second Battalion into an anti-aircraft battalion.
Battery B became the search light battery.
Batteries C and E became anti-aircraft batteries, each manning four
3-Inch anti-aircraft guns. This
decision was partially rescinded. Battery
D turned in its anti-aircraft guns, and built, then manned Battery Stockade
(four 155mm GPF guns on Panama Mounts) in the summer of 1941.
early 1941, Congress authorized the Army to increase the number of Scouts.
The 91st received its share, 143 new recruits, bringing the total number
of Scouts to 763. Between August 1940 and October 1941, the 91st received a new
Commanding Officer and 41 new officers. Lt. Colonel Joseph Kohn was elevated
from being a battalion commander to replace Lt. Colonel Willis Shipman as
Commanding Officer. Major Floyd
Mitchell became the new Executive Officer.
Seven officers and a number of Scouts were placed on detached service to
train the Philippine Army. Officer
promotions came very rapidly. By
the time of the surrender, many had been promoted two grades.
Mine Group laid two Army controlled mine fields between Corregidor and Bataan,
and helped the Navy lay a contact mine field from Corregidor to Ft. Frank.
In October, Battery C moved to Ft. Wint and Battery F moved to Ft. Frank
to provide anti-aircraft protection. HO Battery transferred a 57 man detachment
to Ft. Frank to handle administrative duties and to operate a searchlight.
the afternoon of November 28, 1941, the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bay
was ordered to quickly man all alert positions. The 91st was ordered to have its
batteries at their mobilization positions by noon Saturday November 29, 1941.
At about 3:00 PM December 8th, the Regiment received the message that
"Hostilities between the United States and Japan commenced this
HQ and HQ Battery moved
out of Middleside Barracks, after the first air raid (December 29), into a group
of tents on Way Hill. The 57 man
detachment remained on Ft. Frank. In
addition to his duties as Commanding Officer, Colonel Kohn also commanded Group
4 (all medium caliber guns that fired toward Bataan).
The Regimental Band was commanded by Captain Phillip Lehr.
Master Sergeant Inocencio Sigua was the Band Leader and Technical Sergeant
Aurelio Santos was the Assistant Band Leader.
The band lost all of instruments during the first air raid and was unable
to play afterwards.
The Mine Group. On
Christmas Eve, Lt. Colonel Englehart arrived with General MacArthur's staff from
Manila. Because he was one of the Army's top mine officers, he was
assigned to command the Mine Group. He quickly discovered that the two
controlled mine fields were defective. Parasites
had burrowed into the cables causing electrical shortages.
He had the minefields removed and the cables replaced.
Battery A was commanded by Captain Richard Smith, a Calvary
officer. Gervasio Estorba was the
First Sergeant. It operated the minefield between Ft. Mills and Monja Island
and helped man the mine casemate. It
also manned Battery Stockade (two 155mm GPF guns) plus some 75mm beach defense
guns. The Battery abandoned the
fixed positions at Battery Martin and moved the guns up the hill to the
Stockade. Thus this Battery was
renamed Battery Stockade. It did
extensive firing at Japanese targets on Bataan.
Battery G was commanded by Major Erven Sommerfield.
It operated the minefield between Ft. Mills and Bataan and helped man the
The Second Battalion was commanded by Lt. Colonel Mitchell.
Battery B was commanded by Captain William Owen then by
Captain Bert Backstrom. Mateo
Melliza was the First Sergeant. It
manned Batteries Rockpoint (two 155mm GPF guns) Hanna (two 3-inch guns) and
James (four 3-inch guns). The
Battery was primarily responsible for protecting the minefields.
On February 19, 1942, Battery James was detached and manned by Battery B,
1st Coast Artillery Philippine Army. On April 9, Batteries Rockpoint and Hanna
fired at eight enemy barges entering Mariveles Harbor.
Battery Rockpoint was credited with sinking two.
On April 12, Captain Owens was wounded and replaced by Captain Backstrom.
Throughout the rest of April and first five days in May, Battery B
engaged in frequent artillery duals with Japanese batteries. 1st Lieutenant Ek,
of the 88th F.A., was assigned to the Battery after Bataan surrendered.
He was given command of one gun from Battery Rockpoint, which was moved
from its Panama Mount to a position eastward, just off the North Shore Road,
near the rifle range.
Battery C was commanded by Captain John Gulick.
His father was Chief of the Coast Artillery for
Guardalope Datoc was
First Sergeant. The Battery was
code name Cebu and remained on
Wint until the Fort was abandoned on
It moved to San Jose Barrio, Bataan, near Dinalupihan.
Several days later, it moved near Bataan Field and was attached to the 2d
Battalion, 60th Coast Artillery. On
January 7, it
Cemetery Ridge and on February 7, it moved about 100 yards
further west. During this time, the
Battery engaged Japanese planes attacking Corregidor, Mariveles and the
airfields under construction.
It shot down
planes while on Ft. Wint, two planes at Dinalupihan,
Bataan Field and 10 while near Cemetery Ridge for a total
confirmed kills. When
Bataan Surrendered, the Battery
escaped to Corregidor. It was
assigned to man Batteries Morrison and Grubbs. After several artillery duals,
both of these Batteries were put out of commission. Then Battery C was assigned two 155mm GPF guns located by
Quartermaster warehouses on Topside. One
gun was defective, but
the second fired a
significant number of rounds at Japanese artillery
Battery D was commanded by Captain Jerome Byrne.
Benito Cabal was the First Sergeant.
The Battery manned Battery Sunset. Although
originally designed to fire seaward, the four guns of Battery Sunset were turned
around to fire at Japanese targets on Bataan. One gun was destroyed during the first Japanese
bombardment from Bataan. On 15
April 1942, one gun was removed for use as a roving battery.
It was called Battery Wright, after its commander, 1st Lt. John Wright Jr.,
Battery D's Executive Officer. The
remaining two guns were later removed for Battery Wright, one at a time.
1st Lt. Wright had his CP on the third floor of Topside Barracks, where
he spotted Japanese artillery on Bataan. On
several occasions, he directed fire on Japanese Artillery batteries firing on
Battery Chicago (two 3-inch AA guns) and silenced their bombardment.
He later wrote that "The Philippine Scouts were superb. My enlisted Scouts were far superior to Philippine Army
officers and even more superior to Philippine Army enlisted men.
The Scouts were brave, dependable, willing to work until they dropped
from exhaustion. Completely
to doing their duty.
cannot speak highly enough
of the scouts I knew."
was commanded by Major Joe East.
Francisco Baraan was
First Sergeant. It was given the
code name Ermita and provided the
primary anti-aircraft defense for
Ft. Frank. Japanese aircraft seldom
attacked the Fort, but the Battery did shoot down two planes.
the Japanese artillery that
Cavite Province and later
from the Pico de Loro Hills. Two
anti-aircraft guns were lost to artillery and the gun crews were forced to live
in the tunnels when not on duty.
Battery F was commanded by Captain Robert White and later
by Captain John Davis Jr. Delfin
Pracale was the First Sergeant. Its
primary assignments were Battery Kohler (eight 12-inch mortars) and three 75mm
beach defense guns. The Battery was
engaged in frequent artillery duals with the Japanese.
The Japanese had a huge advantage in that they had forward observers in
the Pico de Loro Hills overlooking the Fort.
Battery F had to fire blind, because it had no observers watching the
Japanese. Several attempts were
made to send personnel to locate the Japanese artillery. They were unsuccessful. In January, a mortar shell from
Battery Kohler burst just outside the pit, killing
one Scout and wounding six, including
Captain White. 1st Lieutenant Davis was promoted to Captain and transferred from
Battery Hanna to command Battery F. On
February 15, the Battery destroyed a Japanese patrol with its 75mm guns. This patrol had attacked a repair party that was fixing
pipelines from Calumpan Dam, the source of the Fortís fresh water.
four months of half rations and many artillery and aerial bombardments, the men
of the 91st continued to fight, but their battle was at an end.
Upon receiving the order to surrender, the men of the 91st destroyed
their equipment and prepared for incarceration.
Personnel on Corregidor were sent to the 92nd Garage where they were kept
with little food and water for 15 days. Ft..
Frank personnel were taken by boats
to Wawa, about 35 miles south of Corregidor to repair a pier.
They received no food or water for several days.
On 24 May, all personnel were taken to Manila and forced to march to
Bilibid Prison. Then they were
shipped to Cabanatuan and later some were shipped to Japan.
The Japanese released the Filipinos in July and sent them home to die.
Many recovered and served honorably in guerilla units until the end of
the war. The officers did not fare
as well. Many were shipped to Japan
and few survived the POW camps and the
hell ships. Of the 49 officers
assigned to the 91st when it surrendered, only
about 13 survived the war.
91st was not reactivated after the war. Air
power made coast artillery obsolete. On June 28, 1950, the Army disbanded the 91st.
Many of the survivors went on to have long and rewarding careers in the
U.S. and Philippine Armies.