Edmund J. Lilly, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #306
Lilly, Edmund J., Jr., 1894-1978
Physical description
0.143 Cubic Feet, 69 items , photocopies of papers (1941-1974) consisting of correspondence, clippings, a hymnal, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Edmund J. Lilly, Jr., Papers (#306), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access to audiovisual and digital media is restricted. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Papers (1941-1974) of U. S. Army artillery officer in World War I and World War II, who served as commander of the 57th Philippine Scouts and regimental commander, experienced the Bataan Death March and was a POW until 1945, consisting of correspondence, clippings, a hymnal, letters, and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

Colonel Edmund Jones Lilly, Jr. (b. 1894), is a native of Fayetteville, N.C. After graduating from the University of North Carolina (1915), he taught school before entering officers training school at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He was commissioned (1917) as a second lieutenant in the field artillery reserves. As a member of the American Expeditionary Forces, he saw duty in France during W.W.I. Lilly subsequently commanded a machine gun company in Panama and headed the ROTC program at Georgia Tech, where he remained until 1940. In 1940, he was sent to the Philippines where he initially served as officer in charge of both the American and Filipino schools. Lilly became battalion commander of the 57th Infantry Philippine Scouts, executive officer of the regiment, and regimental commander. In April 1942, the U.S. Army in the Philippines was forced to surrender to the Japanese. Col. Lilly was a participant in the infamous Bataan Death March, and he remained a P.O.W. for the next three years. In the years after World War II, he served in France as the inspector general of the American Graves Registration Plan (1947-1950). He returned to the States in 1950 and was assigned to the Inspector General section at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he served until his retirement in 1953.

Scope and arrangement

The most important correspondence in this collection centers around the fall of Bataan to the Japanese Army. The correspondence (1947-1974) contains information on the conditions of the U.S. Army before the Japanese attack, the order of withdrawal, and Colonel Lilly's ability as a leader. There are also several items which specify the Japanese policy towards prisoners of war. Of further interest is a newspaper clipping which depicts the notorious Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita's background, war record, and his hanging. There is also a letter (August, 1957) which has some specifics on the hanging of General Yamashita.

Correspondence (1942-1945) contains commendations to the Scouts of the 57th Infantry and congratulations to Colonel Lilly on his safe return home. There is also a brief account of Col. Lilly's liberation from the Japanese. There are several letters (1947-1953)which deal directly with Colonel Lilly's performance record. Most of these are in the form of commendations, which were written in support of his promotion.

The last set of correspondence (1950-1951) revolves around the death of Colonel Lilly's son, Lt. Edmund J. Lilly, III, who was killed in action in Korea. These letters are mainly condolences to the family. Two letters (September 21, 1950 and October 17, 1950) give specific accounts of the battle in which Lt. Lilly was killed. Also included is a poem written in the memory of Lt. "Ted" Lilly.

Miscellaneous items include a hymnal used by the P.O.W.'s during W.W. II, newspaper clippings on the death of General Jonathan Wainwright, Colonel Lilly's certificate of retirement, and photographs of the 57th Infantry (PS) and of the plaque of the United State Military Academy which contains the names of its graduates that were killed in Korea.

For related material, see Edmund Lilly Oral History Interview, O.H. 32.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 4, 1976, 69 items; Papers (1941-1974) consisting of correspondence, clippings, and a hymnal. Loaned for copying by Col. Edmund J. Lilly, Jr., Fayetteville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Col. Edmund J. Lilly, Jr.

Processing information

Processed by D. Lennon

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Lilly, Edmund J., Jr., 1894-1978
Yamashita, Tomobumi, 1885-1946
Corporate Names
United States. Army--Officers--Correspondence
United States. Army. Infantry Regiment, 57th
Bataan Death March, Philippines, 1942
World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners and prisons, Japanese
Philippines--History--Japanese occupation, 1942-1945