Photo of the Day

Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas "Cotton?" Jones, including a portrait of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis, at right. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his "last life request" to anyone who might find his diary: "Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved."CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones, including a portrait of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis, at right. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his “last life request” to anyone who might find his diary: “Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved.”CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

Woman Finds Diary of Man She Loved In World War II Museum

Corporal Thomas ‘Cotton’ Jones had one ‘last life request’ before he was killed by a Japanese sniper on a South Pacific island in 1944: Please give my diary to Laura Mae Davis, the girl I love…

During 1944, the scale of the fighting in the Pacific ? and the length of the casualty lists ? grew markedly.

One of the costliest amphibious operations that year was the invasion of Peleliu, a small, but heavily-defended island in the southwestern Pacific. Nearly 10,000 Army troops and Marines were killed or wounded in the battle for Peleliu. Among the dead was Corporal Thomas Paul “Cotton” Jones.

Jones served with the 1st Marine Division. On September 15, 1944, American forces assaulted Peleliu. Jones’ unit came ashore on September 17. As he approached the beach carrying his machine gun, Thomas Jones was shot in the head and killed.

Corporal Thomas ?Cotton? Jones?served as a marine for the United States military during World War II. Before he was killed by a Japanese sniper in the Central Pacific, he wrote a ?last request? to whoever found his diary. He wanted it to be given to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved.

Laura Mae Davis did in fact get to read the diary, but it took almost 70 years for her to see it. She was finally able to read her old love?s diary in a most surprising way. In 2013, while she was visiting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans she saw the diary in a display case. She was then 90 years old, and the? discovery brought tears to her eyes. There was no way to predict something like this happening after so many decades.

Her name is now Laura Mae Davis Burlingame. She married an Army Air Corps?pilot in 1945. She went to the New Orleans museum to see a?display commemorating the young marine who had been her high school sweetheart. Mrs. Burlingame expected to see pictures of him and his fellow servicemen and maybe even some articles written about them. But she was absolutely stunned to see the 22-year-old machine-gunner?s diary on display.

The curator Eric Rivet said that in 17 years of working at the museum he had never met someone who was actually mentioned in any of the articles or records on display. He happily facilitated Mrs. Burlingame?s wish to get a closer look.?He also provided?her with white gloves to protect the old pages from being damaged by the oil from her skin. The diary had been a farewell gift from her to Jones before he left for the war.

Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, 90, was visiting the National World War II Museum in New Orleans when she saw the gift to her 22-year-old machine-gunner boyfriend, which had been recovered after he died and eventually donated to the museum.

“I didn’t have any idea there was a diary in there,” said Laura from the state of Indiana. She said it brought tears to her eyes.

Back Next by Taboola Promoted Links . The first entry from the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas "Cotton" Jones, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II. CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

The first entry from the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II.
CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, 90, holds a photo of herself from high school, in her Moorseville, Ind. home. The photo filled the back cover of a diary she had given to a Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones, a 22-year-old machine gunner, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II. (MICHAEL CONROY/AP)

Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, 90, holds a photo of herself from high school, in her Moorseville, Ind. home. The photo filled the back cover of a diary she had given to a Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones, a 22-year-old machine gunner, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II. (MICHAEL CONROY/AP)

This photo provided by the National WWII Museum shows a photo of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his ?last life request? to anyone who might find his diary: Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved. Laura Mae Davis Burlingame _ she married an Army Air Corps man in 1945 _ had given the diary to Jones, and didn?t know it had survived him until visiting the museum on April 24. (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)

This photo provided by the National WWII Museum shows a photo of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones, who died in the bloody assault on a Japanese-held island during World War II. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his ?last life request? to anyone who might find his diary: Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved. Laura Mae Davis Burlingame _ she married an Army Air Corps man in 1945 _ had given the diary to Jones, and didn?t know it had survived him until visiting the museum on April 24. (AP Photo/National WWII Museum)

Jones made his first diary entry while a private at Camp Elliott in San Diego, a little less than a year before he was killed. He described it as ?my life history of my days in the US Marine Corps ? And most of all my love for Laura Mae for whom my heart is completely filled.? He added: ?So if you all get a chance please return it to her. I [am] writing this as my last life request.? Jones ? nicknamed ?Cotton? due to his blond hair ? had written several touching entries about his girlfriend, and stuck a photograph of her inside the back cover, which she had signed ?Love Laurie?. The pair had met in 1941 at Winslow High School, Maine, where he had been a basketball player and she was a cheerleader. They dated throughout high school and attended the prom together. Jones had given her his class ring ? a high-school graduation token ? but they were not engaged, she said. After graduation, Jones went on to join the 1st Marine Division?s L Company, 3rd Battalion.

Telegram to the family of Corporal Thomas Paul "Cotton" Jones informing them of his death. Gift of Robert Hunt, 2001.116.

Telegram to the family of Corporal Thomas Paul “Cotton” Jones informing them of his death. Gift of Robert Hunt, 2001.116.

A copy of the first pages of the diary of Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones. (MICHAEL CONROY/AP)

A copy of the first pages of the diary of Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones. (MICHAEL CONROY/AP)

The first entry was written less than a year before his death while he was a private at Camp Elliott in San Diego. In it he described the diary as a history of his days in the U.S. Marine Corps, and most of all declared his love for Laura Mae. It is clear from the diary that he was deeply in love with the?girl. He closed the entry with what he dubbed as his life?s last request, which was to please return the diary to her.

Peleliu was where U.S. forces learned the Japanese had changed their island defense tactics. Instead of concentrating units on the beaches and finishing with reckless banzai charges, the Japanese holed up in bunkers, trenches, pillboxes and caves – many of them blasted into the island’s hills and mountains – that had to be taken one at a time.

A page of out of the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas Jones featuring a photo of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, on display at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. (GERALD HERBERT/AP)

A page of out of the diary of 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas Jones featuring a photo of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis Burlingame, on display at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. (GERALD HERBERT/AP)

He made his first diary entry while a private at Camp Elliott in San Diego, a little less than a year before he was killed. He described it as "my life history of my days in the U.S. Marine Corps ... And most of all my love for Laura Mae for whom my heart is completely filled. So if you all get a chance please return it to her. I (am) writing this as my last life request."

He made his first diary entry while a private at Camp Elliott in San Diego, a little less than a year before he was killed. He described it as “my life history of my days in the U.S. Marine Corps … And most of all my love for Laura Mae for whom my heart is completely filled. So if you all get a chance please return it to her. I (am) writing this as my last life request.”

This photo provided by the National WWII Museum shows pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones,who wanted his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Burlingame, to have it.. (UNCREDITED/AP)

This photo provided by the National WWII Museum shows pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas ?Cotton? Jones,who wanted his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Burlingame, to have it.. (UNCREDITED/AP)

Sadly, a sniper shot Jones on September 17, 1944, the third day of the?U.S. assault on the Pacific island of Peleliu, in Palau. Peleliu was where the Unites States learned the hard way that Japan had?changed their tactics.?The battle for this island was the beginning of two and a half months of utter hell.

Thomas Jones was buried on Peleliu. A wooden cross marked his grave. After the war, his body was returned to the United States for burial in Winslow, Indiana.

Jones was among 1,794 Americans killed on Peleliu. A total of 7,302 Americans were injured, about 10,900 Japanese were killed, and?some 19 soldiers and sailors from Japan became prisoners of war. These figures indicate the ferocity of the battle.

Burlingame was not sure why it took so long for her to get the diary. It turns out the diary originally went to one of Jones?s sisters whom she did not know very well. Jones?s nephew, Robert Hunt, who turned Jones?s artifacts over to the museum in 2001, received the diary some years after Jones was killed but did not pass it on to Burlingame because he was concerned it would cause issues with her marriage. (She said Jones and her husband?had been?good friends and there would have been no issue.) When Mrs. Burlingame heard that Hunt was collecting artifacts for the museum she gave him pictures and Jones?s class ring, which she had saved all those years.

It was not uncommon for soldiers and sailors to write to the family of dead comrades, expressing their sorrow and offering words of comfort. Private First Class George W. Harbin wrote to Jones' sister with the reassurance that, at least, Jones had died instantly with no pain.

It was not uncommon for soldiers and sailors to write to the family of dead comrades, expressing their sorrow and offering words of comfort. Private First Class George W. Harbin wrote to Jones’ sister with the reassurance that, at least, Jones had died instantly with no pain.

letter-2-lb

In Jones?s very last entry on December 1, 1943, he mentioned winning $200 in a game of craps and how he had $320 total saved up. He thought about what a nice Christmas he could be having with his love, and contemplated how he could wire the money back home to her. He was never able to do that, but Burlingame said she was touched at how many times Jones mentioned getting letters from his parents and her. The museum scanned the diary and mailed her a copy. The diary’s 4-by-7-inch back cover was nearly filled with her photograph. The picture itself was black and white, but the photographer had tinted her cheeks pink and her lips dark red.

She had signed it, “Love, Laurie.”

Though it took almost seven decades, the last wish of this gallant marine had finally been granted.

US soldier’s WWI diary returned to sweetheart – The Scotsman

Wartime diary a love letter to 90-year-old – NY Daily News

Corporal Thomas “Cotton” Jones – Remember Them | mymemorialday …

Woman Finds Diary Of Man She Loved In World War II Museum

Surprise discovery means Marine’s last wish is fulfilled after 70 years …

WW2 Soldier’s Diary Returned To Sweetheart… At The Age Of 90 | Her.ie

40%
×