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BM1 Thomas William "Tommy" Stanborough
Birth: Jul. 22, 1922
New Orleans
Orleans Parish
Louisiana, USA
Death: May 30, 1943, Solomon Islands

Biography written by Evey Blalock (EveyBl). Please do not publish biography or photos elsewhere without providing full and proper credit. Thank you.

Greater love hath no man than that he gives up his life for a friend. (John 15:13)

Thomas William Stanborough (Tommy) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Thomas Stanborough of Australia and Catherine Johnson Stanborough of New Orleans. The youngest of three children, he had a brother, Zachariah T. Stanborough, and a sister, Thelma Rita Stanborough Blalock. Tommy was an active, well-liked youth. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, was active with the Sea Scouts, and was a thespian who held leading roles in several school productions. He also participated in sports, but his small stature prevented him from excelling in these endeavors. Tommy graduated from Metairie High School in 1940 and he dreamed of seeing the world. He wanted to sail, as his father did.

Tommy enlisted in the United States Navy on July 22, 1940, and he received his training at San Diego, California. On September 14, 1940 he was selected honor man of his company of 128 recruits. Tommy was assigned to the USS Arizona on October 1, 1940.

On December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Tommy was aboard ship. Here are Tommy's words, written to his mother regarding that eventful day:

"I was up in the lookout tower about 8am when I was first hit. A shrapnel shell exploded and gigged my left leg... later on after we abandoned ship and started swimming for shore 600 feet away I was struck in the right wrist by machine gun fire from a low flying Jap plane."

Tommy didn't talk much about the attack after that letter. The magnitude of the event and the loss of his shipmates weighed heavy on his heart and mind for the remainder of his short life.

Following Pearl Harbor, Tommy was sent back to New Orleans to learn about the Higgins landing Eureka Boats. After graduating with honors from this course of instructions, he was assigned active duty in the North Africa section. This is what he wrote about that assignment:

"In the landing of troops in French Morocco there was perfect coordination between all branches of the American service. It was a perfect teamwork. Every man in it knew what he and the other fellow had to do - and did it with lots of spirit and courage. I was operating a small landing boat. We would land a detail of soldiers, and if there was nothing which we had to do toward seeing that the troops got under way, we spun around and ploughed back to our ship. One of the most thrilling parts of the landing was the whole-hearted reception we got from the French. Most of them were in tatters, and many of them were practically starved. We dug up dungarees and wholesome food for them. Their shouts of welcome and gratitude made us feel mighty glad that we were fighting with the Allied forces."

By 1943, Tommy was serving aboard the USS LCI (L) 69, near Banika Island in the South Pacific Ocean, under the command of Frazelle L. O'Leary, U.S.N.R. He had risen from the rank of Seaman Recruit to Boatswain's Mate, 1st Class, when he met his death by drowning in the Solomon Sea. Here is an account of the details surrounding his death, as written by Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs in a letter to Tommy's mother:

"At approximately 6:30 in the evening on 30 May 1943, the ship on which your son was a member of the crew noticed that a ship ahead in column had stopped, turned on a searchlight, and showed a man overboard. Your son's ship was maneuvered into a position alongside the man overboard. The man overboard was a passenger soldier, who was found to have a broken arm, and was unable to utilize any of the life saving aids thrown to him. Then your son went over the side of the ship (held by three other enlisted men). During the endeavor to bring the soldier aboard, the heavy seas and strong current swept him from the grasp of his mates and both men were swept away from the ship. Stanborough had given his life jacket to the injured soldier. Although he did have hold of a life ring, he let that go in order to go to the aid of the soldier. After both men had been picked out again by the searchlight, your son drifted away before the ship could be maneuvered to pick him up. An extensive search was made to no avail, and it is presumed that your son's death occurred by drowning."

A followup letter arrived informing Tommy's parents that he was recommended posthumously for a citation for his heroic actions; however, no award was ever forthcoming. Tommy is memorialized on the Wall of the Missing at Fort McKinley's Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines, and also in the Louisiana Memorial Plaza at the U.S.S. Kidd Veterans Memorial Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After the war, the Veterans of Foreign Wars established the Thomas W. Stanborough Post No. 4275 in Metairie, but it is no longer in operation.

A trunk full of many unique and interesting artifacts from Tommy's service with the Navy, including a personal letter from the Admiral of the British Navy, letters to and from Tommy's family, items from the attack on Pearl Harbor, and vivid descriptions of service in both theaters, now resides with the museum of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Tom Blalock (Tommy's nephew) and his wife Evelyn were invited to participate in "The Last Toast" ceremony for U.S.S. Arizona shipmates and their families on December 7, 2014. They presented the artifacts to the museum's curator at that time.

Other members in Tommy's family who served during World War II include his father, Thomas Stanborough (a naturalized American who served as Ship's Master for the Merchant Marine, sunk by U-158 in the Gulf of Mexico); his sister, Thelma Stanborough Blalock (a civilian employee with the Army Air Corps); his brother, Zachariah T. Stanborough (a bomber pilot with the Army Air Corps); his brother-in-law, Dennis Ferrell Blalock (an infantry commander with the Army); and numerous cousins.
Family links: 
  Thomas Stanborough (1894 - 1962)
  Catherine Annie Cora Johnson Stanborough (1887 - 1966)
  Zachariah T. Stanborough (1915 - 2006)*
  Thelma Rita Stanborough Blalock (1921 - 2010)*
  Thomas William Stanborough (1922 - 1943)
*Calculated relationship
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Metro Manila
National Capital Region, Philippines
Plot: Wall of the Missing
Maintained by: EveyBl
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56763613
BM1 Thomas William Tommy Stanborough
Added by: EveyBl
BM1 Thomas William Tommy Stanborough
Added by: EveyBl
BM1 Thomas William Tommy Stanborough
Added by: EveyBl
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- lisse
 Added: Sep. 24, 2015
In your memory....what an unselfish act you did to try and save that man. God bless you and your heoric deed. Rest in peace.
- sjb
 Added: Jul. 14, 2015
Thank you for your service. Such a sad reminder of our beautiful brave young men and women that gave their lives for our country.
- Kathy Shaw
 Added: Jun. 27, 2015
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