The Mementos from a World War I Trunk

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This World War I era trunk belonged to Richard Thornton. The trunk was restored (repainted, new handles, and new lining) and used as a keepsake saving WWI, WWII, and Korean War mementos from Richard Thornton, his brother Francis Thornton, and later his son James Thornton. 

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Richard Thornton



Richard Thornton (1896-1973) enlisted on April 4, 1917. Richard was overseas from January 1918 until May 1919, when he was honorably discharged. 

On February 5, 1918, the steamship Tuscania was transporting over 2,000 American soldiers bound for Europe. The steamship was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-77. 213 people lost their lives. Richard survived the attack.

After his return home, Richard was a member of the Last Man's Club of Chippewa Falls and the Roy L. Vingers American Legion.

Richard and his wife Elizabeth moved to La Crosse, WI and spent the rest of their lives there. 

Francis Thornton



Francis Thornton (1898-1963) was the brother of Richard Thornton. Francis and Richard had eight siblings. Francis enlisted October 7, 1918 and was mustered out December 21, 1918.

Upon his return, Francis went on to university to study for the priesthood. During WWII, Francis served as a chaplain in the Canadian army.

Later in his life, Francis worked as an editorial assistant at the Catholic Digest. He also authored multiple books.

Some of his most valued possessions included: a letter of thanks from Pius XII after writing a biography of him and a relic of Pius IX set in a reliquary of topaz from the Sacred Congregation of Rites. 


James Thornton





James Thornton served in WWII in the Marine Corps.

Mementos from James' Korean War service were saved and added to mementos saved by his father from WWI and were placed in the trunk. 

The Marine Corps uniform was not worn by James, but saved by him in an attempt to preserve his service. The dress uniform belonged to R.E. Currie--an acquantaince of James in the same barracks, Thornton bought Currie's uniform when Currie left the service as it was in better condition than his own.