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POW mess kit lid trench art


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I stopped in to one of the local museums the other day and as I was walking around looking at the displays I noticed this mess kit lid. I know, big deal a mess kit lid, right? This piece stopped me dead in my tracks, I studied it for a few moments and realized exactly what I was looking at. After a few more minutes of study I went and got the museum volunteer and started quizzing him, where did it come from? who donated it? did he know the significance of the piece? I was not surprised to hear that the museum didn't know the first thing about it. So I asked if I may remove it from the display cabinet so I can photograph it. So after I got home I studied the photos and started to research and this is what I was able to piece together. This information now is displayed with the mess kit lid. at least now the museum has some information concerning the item and sacrifices of of this soldier.

Private Grady “Ted” Merritt

 

6860431

Private Merritt served with the 59th Coast Artillery Corps

1st Battalion troop D Cheney battery

Stationed at Fort Mills Corregidor, Philippine Islands

Corregidor fell on May 6, 1942

Private Merritt was taken prisoner by the Japanese and moved to Cabanatuan POW camp

Where he stayed until 12-13-44 when he was ordered to board the

Hellship Oryoku Maru For transfer to Japan.

The Japanese did not identify the Oryoko Maru as a POW ship and the ship came under attack by U.S. Air Corps. It was at this time Pvt. Merritt was either killed by friendly fire or by the Japanese when they forced the survivors overboard to swim to shore taking pot shots at the swimmers.

Private Grady “Ted” Merritt rests in the Manila American Cemetery Fort Bonifacio Taguig City Manila, Philippines.

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Thanks for sharing. Nice piece. Shame that the museum didn't make the effort to do elementary research. Wonder what other treasures are out there, gathering dust in museums?

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The question now is how it got there. My bet is it was done in the days before the surrender, and probably left bheind or discarded in the march. And the museum doesn;t even know who donated it?

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That piece is awesome! I have a messkit that is decorated by a Bataan POW but its not as nice as this.

 

On another note, I own a bunch of Clifford Bluemel's POW mail from Taiwan.

 

Kurt

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The question now is how it got there. My bet is it was done in the days before the surrender, and probably left bheind or discarded in the march. And the museum doesn;t even know who donated it?

 

 

Those are the exact same thoughts I was left with. How did it make its way from the Philippines to Florida?

Yup, the fellow I spoke with says he didn't remember how or when they received it. I know it wasn't on display a few years ago. Next time I go back I'll see if I can get some more details.

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That piece is awesome! I have a messkit that is decorated by a Bataan POW but its not as nice as this.

 

On another note, I own a bunch of Clifford Bluemel's POW mail from Taiwan.

 

Kurt

 

 

I kind of figured this piece would catch your eye Kurt. I have to agree it is pretty awesome!!

 

I remember speaking with you about the Bluemel letters you have, that was several years ago.

I know they are in great hands!

 

Chuck

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  • 4 months later...
USCapturephotos

That is an incredible piece! Thank you for sharing the pictures of it with us.

Paul

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jetranger407

This is awesome. Strange that the imagery is WWI specific. I know that the M1917 was used into WWII, but the scene depicted is clearly pre WWII

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This is awesome. Strange that the imagery is WWI specific. I know that the M1917 was used into WWII, but the scene depicted is clearly pre WWII

 

I agree that it has the basic look of WWI, but it matches up with what one would expect to see in use on Corregidor in late 1941 through May 1942. M1917A1 Helmets, the WWII era airplanes (mono wing), the rocky island (it was known as "The Rock" for a reason), are all elements which match up perfectly with WWII usage.

 

Very nice by the way.

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I'm not sure, but they look like numbers or letters stamped into the lid; if that is correct then they are likely the last four digits of a service number.

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That is a great piece of history. What a story behind that simple mess kit lid. Good stuff, thanks for posting it.

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  • 3 years later...

Bumping this older thread to chime in.....

 

"Ted" Merritt is my grandfather's brother. I was doing some research last weekend on the family and this thread popped up in my search. Many thanks to ghost for taking the time to post the pictures of that mess kit lid and sharing them on this forum.

 

I grew up hearing the story on what happened to "Uncle Ted" in the war but from what I remember, the family really did not know exactly what happened until after the war when someone showed up and told them that they saw Uncle Ted drown when the Oryoku Maru was sunk by our forces. As I grew older I gained an intense interest in researching WW2 as well as my family history. My grandmother gave me pictures back in the 90s that I have kept and will share some pictures of Grady "Ted" Merritt.

 

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This is completely awesome!

Thank you Matt for bringing this full circle. We now have an idea who Pvt. Merritt was.

RIP Pvt. Grady Merritt

You will not be forgotten

CB

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Simon Lerenfort

Great story, a pity the museum did not track the history of the lid. I hope a copy of

Pvt Merritts photo can be displayed alongside the lid. Always good to bring a story of an ordinary item back to life with the image of the doughboy who it was issued to.

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The question now is how it got there. My bet is it was done in the days before the surrender, and probably left bheind or discarded in the march. And the museum doesn;t even know who donated it?

Museums often receive unsolicited donations, artifacts that simply arrive in the mail (almost untraceably in the old days), or are simply dropped off beside a door or at a front desk. It happens more often than we might think.

 

Conjuring up a scenario for this piece, perhaps at the time it came into the museum there was not the instantaneous access to the records we now can research... a curator would have had, essentially, next to zero way of finding the book or file or document to connect this piece with. For a photograph to be seen and shared or compared with a cross-reference, it had to be a physical photograph, made one-at-time, on paper and then sent by mail somewhere.

 

It is a rule-of thumb, basically, that most museums can only display about 25% of their holdings at any given time; for starters. In addition (and this irked me no end when I was active in the industry) for some reason having to do with pride (I suppose?) few museums will put anything on exhibit and actually ASK the public for help in figuring out what it is - when it is what we catalogued as being an "Unknown"

 

As the curatorial profession is being channeled more and more into education enterprises, things are likely to not get better anytime soon. Everybody can be a curator, they say today, and even the Wall Street Journal claims to be "curating" its publication.

 

The artifact and history which is the topic of this thread is so great to see revealed, by whatever means and in whatever time it took! Museums traditionally have/had four duties:

 

- Collect

- Preserve

- Exhibit

- Interpret

 

Not all four always happen in perfect precision or balance, but the museum who held this piece saved it, and finally its history has been, or is being, discovered.

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  • 2 months later...

From the May 10, 1942 Edition of the Dardanelle Post-Dispatch, Dardanelle, Arkansas.

 

Local Boy Taken By Japs at Corregidor—Grady (“Ted”) Merritt, son of Mrs. Ruth Sexton, of Carden Bottom, was stationed on Corregidor in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands when that is-land fortress was taken by the Japs after terrific bombardment last week. If Ted survived the bloody struggle preceding the capitulation, he is now a prisoner of war. Ted was with the 59th Coast Artillery at Fort Mills. He has been in the Philippines since February, 1941. His family has not heard from him since last November, and all mail forwarded to him since then has been returned.

 

Carden Bottom is a small community about 16 miles south of Dardanelle.

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Great [piece of military history. Congrats on getting its owner's history displayed with this wonderful piece at the museum. Bob

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