Inventory of the Thomas W. Davis, III Manuscript:
According to the biographical information contained within the manuscript, the parents of Thomas W. Davis, III lived in Brentwood, Tennessee. Davis had one brother named W.A. Davis. Thomas Davis graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University before entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1935. He graduated from the Academy on June 12, 1939 and received a second lieutenant's commission in the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) of the U.S. Army. While a student at West Point, Davis met Betty McDonnell of Mill Neck, Long Island. They became engaged in 1939, and married on February 24, 1940. The newlyweds lived with her parents for the first four months of the marriage while Davis was assigned to the 62nd CAC (AA) at Fort Totten, Bayside, Long Island. At the urging of his brother and without foreknowledge of the impending war, Davis volunteered for duty in the Philippines. The cost of living was more amenable to a second lieutenant's pay and his brother advised Davis that the duty was easier than most. Davis and his wife arrived in Manila on July 20, 1940, for his two-year tour of duty with the 59th Coast Artillery (CA). During the difficult trip to their new home, the couple discovered that Betty was pregnant with their first child. Their daughter, Kathleen Chilton Davis, was born on February 6, 1941. The Davis family spent the first three months of his Philippine tour of duty at Fort Hughes, one of the three isolated islands located in the entrance to Manila Bay. In November 1940, Davis was reassigned to Corregidor Island. Betty and baby Kathy left for Long Island on May 1, 1941, after the Army ordered that all Army dependents to evacuate the Philippine Islands. Davis was appointed Commander of Battery H (also known as Battery Geary) of the 59th CA in January 1942. On May 6, 1942, he was taken prisoner when Corregidor fell to the Japanese. While a prisoner of war, Davis was detained in Japanese prison camps in the Philippines and Japan including the Cabanatuan Camp and the Kosaka Camp. He was held as prisoner of war until the war ended in August 1945. Davis arrived back in the United States in October 1945. Davis' marriage was not strong enough to withstand the long separation. Betty divorced him on August 10, 1946.
The Thomas W. Davis, III manuscript of "A Former POW Looks Back" chronicles Davis' World War II experience as an American battery commander on Corregidor Island and as a prisoner of war held by the Japanese. The manuscript includes his observations of life as an Army junior officer, and American military preparedness before the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and the military's initial war mobilization in the Philippines. It also contains a vivid account of the fighting on Corregidor before American forces stationed there surrendered to the Japanese in 1942 and the dismal conditions prisoners of war faced. Davis provides several anecdotes about how soldiers dealt with the war and being held as prisoners. He describes in detail the conditions of Japanese POW camps including the lack of food and water, the bad sanitary conditions, the many diseases afflicting prisoners, camp routines, and Japanese treatment of their prisoners.
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Processed by Stephanie Oriabure in January 2004
Detailed Description of the Collection