FIRE FOR EFFECT: John D. Morrison publishes book of war memories

Published 2:00 am Saturday, September 26, 2015

John D. Morrison now makes his home in Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio but his heart will always be in his native Pike County.

Morrison doesn’t consider himself a writer, not even a historian, just one who appreciates the service and sacrifices of those acknowledged as America’s Greatest Generation. That “Generation” includes the “cannoneers of Pike County and Southeast Alabama.”

And, for that reason John D. Morrison is telling the story of the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion in World War II. His recently published work, titled “Fire For Effect” is dedicated to the memory of all who served and sacrificed for their country in World War II and to the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion and his dad, Daniel “Huey” Morrison, Pike County native and veteran of the 933rd.

MESSENGER PHOTO/JAINE TREADWELL John D. Morrison told the story of the 933rd Field Artillery Battlion in World War II in his recently published work title, “Fire for Effect.”

John D. Morrison told the story of the 933rd Field Artillery Battlion in World War II in his recently published work title, “Fire for Effect.”

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“The work is dedicated to all men and women from Southeast Alabama, regardless of their branch and unit of service,” Morrison said. “However, it is a very specific story about a combat service arm not often portrayed in film and not written about in popular books. It’s the story of the artillery – men from several counties in southeastern Alabama who became cannoneers.”

Morrison said the soldiers’ National Guard units were inducted into Federal service as two artillery battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 117th Field Artillery Regiment. Fox Battery of the 2nd Battalion was composed of men living in Pike County and Troy.

“On December 16, 1940, these soldiers received a large sendoff by the citizens and leaders of Troy as they left their homes to train in Florida. This artillery battalion was renamed the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion before they left the United States for combat,” Morrison said. “Five years later, in the fall of 1945, these soldiers came back home. I can find no record for any welcome home other than a short article giving the date of the very first reunion of these fighting men held on Orion Street in Troy.”

Morrison said not all of the cannoneers came back home. The first combat casualty from Pike County was in Italy and several men died in a training accident in North Africa even before entering combat.

Morrison said he wanted to tell the story of the 933rd because most all of these veterans have died but memories and photographs still exist.

“The memories are held in albums, in letters and in service records by their sons and daughters,” he said. “My veteran father rarely discussed the war. One of the few stories he told was of being in the heat of battle in icy cold, wet and muddy field and hearing a bugler playing, ‘I’m Sitting on the Top of the World.’ He said it was so ironic that he laughed amid all the shelling. I tried to imagine what that might have been like for him. So, I wanted to learn all I could about how the 933rd trained, where they fought and why they were sent to the places in Europe they had never heard of – places like Oran, Bizerte, Venafro, Siena, Marseilles, Wurzburg, Schweinfurt and Kufstein.

“Our fathers and uncles fought in a relatively obscure area on the southern edge of the Allied effort in Europe and they were considered a secondary fighting force on the flank of the more famous Armies attacking Normandy in France and the Ruhr region in Germany.

Much of the time, the cannoneers were firing artillery missions directly for French Forces that fought in U.S. Army Groups in Italy and France.”

Morrison said the Invasion of Normandy grabbed headlines and but there is no “Band of Brothers” film about the artillery.

“But, General George S. Patton was to have said, ‘I don’t have to tell you who won the war. You know the artillery did.’ Only in a very limited way can we understand the daily life of these artillery enlisted soldiers,” Morrison said. “Only the cannoneers can really understand the stress of firing under pressure, displacements and being shelled by the enemy and the satisfaction that a target was hit and hard.

“They were mired in mud for months and in frozen snow in ‘sunny’ Italy and again in France. They raced to strike their defeated enemy in Germany in the final days of war in Europe. Theirs is a remarkable story and one that should be told.”

For almost a year, Morrison collected “scraps” of information from the families of the men of the 933rd and from newspaper articles and other sources in an attempt to tell a small part of the story of the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion in World War II.

That small part of the story is told in photographs, character sketches of the soldiers as told by their sons and daughters, newspaper articles, maps and records.

Morrison is committed to telling a larger part of the story of the 933rd and would like to have more stories, photographs, recollections and other memorabilia of the 933rd Field Artillery Battalion veterans for future volumes of his work.

Anyone with information about the 933rd is encouraged to contact Morrison at or at 895-344-1472.