Col. Lilly was born in North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1915. In 1917, he received a commission in the regular Army. In 1941 he was sent to Manila in the Philippines to serve in the U.S. Army's Philippine Division. He became the commander of the 57th Philippine Scout Regiment. The unit served on Bataan during the Japanese invasion. He became a P.O.W. in April 1942 when the Americans surrendered to the Japanese. For the next 40 months he was in various Japanese P.O.W. camps. To keep his sanity, he maintained a diary in tiny notebooks. In addition to the diary he wrote down poems, songs, recipes, rules for Bridge and everything he could remember.
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