THE TALE OF TOM MALLOY
By: Bill Wright
“STEP ASIDE, POLICE BUSINESS!”
The startled nurse certainly moved out of the way, though with measured reluctance. In 1949, the
maternity ward, absent doctors, perhaps maintenance men and visiting new fathers (during
scheduled visiting hours) was a female dominated bastion.
The individual, purposefully, powerfully pushing through the fire doors was clearly not female and
visitations were a long way along the clock from that moment. The yielding nurse directed only the blur
of a powerfully built, uniformed police officer, indeed, Police Chief, to the room of his only child, Mary
June (Malloy) Wright. “June”, as she chose to be known, had just given birth to a baby. A boy (your
humble writer). The first grandchild of Thomas F. Malloy, Hopedale’s Police Chief and a new, proud
grandfather. My Papa.
Thus began a great friendship that ultimately spanned over four decades.
PART ONE, THE EARLY YEARS
“Papa” was born on April 9, 1898 of Irish immigrants Tom and Mary Malloy. From what I gather, his
parents settled first in Boston, then Medway and finally in Milford. First born Tom was one of eight
children, Peter, Danny, Billy, Ed, Margaret, Celia and Theresa soon joined him.
A few stories of his youth can be recalled. He remembered playing with the “Sonya” (sp?) boys,
walking the dirt roads around Sumner Street, finding things to do. Certainly catching frogs was fun
until one day the frog in his pocket jumped out. In class at St. Mary’s, Sister was displeased with the
hopping amphibian creating chaos. From all accounts, this ended his frog catching days.
But ever the animal lover, he began catching and keeping pigeons. He built a wire cage in the
backyard where his pets were kept, for awhile. For supper one night, his mother served “chicken”
soup. Having finished his meal he commented that the soup tasted a bit different. He then looked at
his pigeon cage and noticing a distinct lack of occupants. “Where are my pigeons?” he cried. “I rung
their necks and made chicken soup,” his mother explained. The chagrined former bird keeper went for
Having experienced less than success with wildlife, he developed a love of sports, becoming a left
handed pitcher of some repute. Boston cousins could be visited by catching a train and summers
brought lots of opportunity to play baseball. On one trip, his cousin’s team was playing the local
league leaders. Papa was asked to pitch and immediately began to mow down batter after batter. Not
taking kindly to having been duped by a ringer, Tommy and his cousins were chased from the field, all
the way home. Baseball however continued to play a big part in his life. As he was walking home from
a sandlot game, ball and glove in hand, a well dressed stranger, climbing the stairs to a second floor
apartment called out, “Hey sonny, throw me the ball.” Innocently, the lad lobbed the ball to the
gentleman. The ball was expertly caught and immediately fired back at the boy, an obvious head shot.
Papa caught it and not to be outdone, aimed a head shot at the man who, gloveless, ducked, allowing
the ball to crash though a window. The older man stood, laughing saying, “It’s okay sonny, I had that
one coming. I’ll get your ball and pay for the window.” And indeed George “Babe” Ruth recovered the
ball and returned it, saying, “That was a good one.” Papa recalled that the Babe may have been a little
Of course, with so many brothers and sisters, there was a family life. Peter (later Father Peter B.
Malloy) was in the eyes of Mother Mary a really cute child and had a long, bowl shaped haircut. To his
elder brothers he looked to be a sissy, an opinion quietly shared by Big Tom, the family patriarch. This
egregious breach of youthful manliness cried for correction. Tom and younger brother Ed (if the writer’
s memory serves) asked Peter to come “down cellar”. Thrilled to join his brothers, Pete accompanied
them, unaware of the plot to shear his lovely locks. The dastardly deed was done with dreadfully
unattractive results leaving the three boys to hide out until “Big Tom” returned from work and supper
was served. The two offenders and their victim were the last to appear at the table. Mother was aghast
and began to roundly bawl out the neophyte barbers. Though trying to support his wife, dad was trying
equally hard to suppress his chuckles. When supper and the chastisement were finished Tom and
Ed, both out of view and earshot of mother got a knowing loving wink and smile from dad,
accompanied by whispered, “Good boys.”
Milford at the time was a haven for Irish Catholic immigrants, a situation not well embraced by the
largely “Yankee” population. Indeed, Papa recalled signs reading “Rooms for Rent…No Irish” or “Help
Wanted, Irish need not apply,” In the second decade of the twentieth century the Irish were largely
relegated to tenements located around Sumner, Winter and Pearl Streets and environs. Further, new
fangled contraptions such as indoor plumbing were a rarity meaning that “one’s business” occurred
in an outhouse. Such conveniences required attention, frequently performed by the landlord. One lady
neighbor however had a particularly unpleasant landlord who refused to shoulder the burden of
required upkeep. The outhouse was a foul experience for her and rather unpleasant for the neighbors.
In the latter days of the twentieth century, juvenile mischief occurs on Halloween (decades later, more
stories of that and Chief Malloy). But in the second decade of the twentieth century it was the night of
the Fourth of July.
Within the neighborhood was a hat manufacturing factory which is probably where Big Tom worked
and where lots of highly flammable excelsior was stored. Here perhaps we see the beginnings of
Tom’s long career of public service. He organized some (unidentified) friends to collect excelsior and
somehow, a bit of kerosene. The goods were carried to the site of the offended facility which was
knocked over, packed with the combustibles, doused with kerosene and ignited as the delinquents
headed for the hills. It was a lusty, smelly fire that briefly left a rather nasty stench through the area
after the flames exhausted. The next day saw the filling in of the existing hole (with charred remains
and dirt), the excavation of a new one and the erection of a new structure. A flowery ambience
embraced the area. No direct blame was ever placed upon the band of merry arsonists, though again
secretive winks, smiles and whispered “good boys” were experienced.
The call to public service sounded again through Milford. It was years before motorized vehicles
came into vogue. The wheeled town equipment was horse drawn with the town barn located next to
the Milford library. The feed and manure at the barn attracted an enormous pigeon population which
roosted on the roof of the library. The avian population, having no “sense of occasion,” freely relieved
themselves upon patrons of the library. A public outcry erupted in word and print demanding a solution
to the “pigeon menace.” Numerous and sundry cures were attempted, all meeting with miserable
failure. Here again, Malloy’s (devious?) inner drive for problem solving revealed itself.
He and (again if the writers memory serves) one of the Sonya boys collected a great deal of grain
and somehow came into a substantial amount of grain alcohol. The grain and alcohol were mixed,
packed into burlap bags and shouldered to the library grounds, where the mixture was liberally
spread. The birds hungrily ingested the new largess, temporarily flying back to the library roof.
Temporarily, because in their inebriated state, the drunken birds experienced extreme difficulty in
hanging onto their perches and tumbled to the ground where they aimlessly flopped about. Years
later, Papa’s recitation of the scene, with one thumb in his armpit, his elbow flapping while making
cooing sounds left his eldest grandson (siblings and friends) laughing hysterically. The appearance
of Mike Nolan tempered the sense of accomplishment shared by Malloy and Sonya.
Mike Nolan was reputed to be the largest cop in New England, reportedly 6’6” – 6’10” tall with size
14 boots. He came upon the pair who were collecting the fallen birds and stuffing them into the now
empty burlap bags.
“What are you two up to?” Nolan bellowed.
The surprised (possibly contrite?…naaah) pair explained to a now thoroughly amused officer the
whats and whys of their actions. The good cop sent the kids on their way with the explanation that,
“The old biddy in the library is complaining of animal cruelty. I’ll straighten her out.” No subtle winks or
smiles this time, Nolan was laughing out loud at the situation. The timeline is a bit muddled, but the
writer wonders if this is the evolution of the pigeon collection and subsequent chicken soup.
Another tale comes to mind, one in which the mischievousness of the pigeon catcher and the
pyrotechnic skills of the “outhouse arsonist” as well as local disdain for the Irish could blend.
There were a couple of groups of teens in Milford at the time. Tommy’s were Irish, though the make
up of the others was never clear. There was never a mention of overt violence but “The Others” pretty
much hung out on a corner now called Lincoln Square, on the sidewalk adjacent to where Morin’s
Studio currently stands. Through Main Street, recessed or submerged trolley tracks existed with a
significant bend where Main Street curves at Lincoln Square. Somehow, Malloy’s friends came into
possession of a skyrocket. The young rocketeers placed the device in the tracks not far from the
Milford Town Hall. It was ignited and blasted up the tracks until the physics of making the turn revealed
themselves causing the rocket to jump the tracks and explode against the brick wall where “The
Others” were standing. Suffice to say that the domination of that corner was yielded and all could pass
But all could not be fun and games. A large family, ultimately ten mouths to feed required more
money than Big Tom could make alone. As the eldest son Tommy had to find work. So, prior to going
to class at St. Mary’s Elementary School, he rode a horse drawn wagon delivering milk and eggs. But
no good deed goes unpunished. The job often caused him to be late for school, earning a slap on the
wrists with a ruler. Tardiness was sinful in the eyes of the good nuns. But a slap on freezing cold
hands after working in the freezing winter? No good deed goes unpunished. It is unclear whether
frequent lateness or the need for more income was the cause, but Tom Malloy’s formal education
ended in the eighth grade. Never did he speak with bitterness of this, though speak he did. He knew
the value of schooling and craved learning. In later years he read voraciously. Read anything, books,
periodicals, newspapers. He was a news “junkie.” Current events were important as was history. In
his later years his eldest grandson often teased him that he didn’t have to study history, he was so old
that he was present when most of it occurred! This earned a chuckle, but an observation as well. He
often said, “I could not have chosen a better time to have been born. I remember hearing of the Wright
Brothers first flying and later watched men walking on the Moon! On television! We never imagined
television. What I have seen in my life….”
Formally educated? No. Smart? Wise? Absolutely. Your writer has often said that “I’ve met and
enjoyed the friendship of men with far better educations, but never one wiser or smarter than Papa.”
Schooling finished, young Tom was helping to support a family. If not a man already, Tom Malloy
was fast becoming one.
END OF PART 1
Tom Malloy with kids on Mendon Street near
the IGA Market. Click here for names.
PART TWO: TOM GOES TO WAR
Tommy was now a working man, helping to support his family.. Deliveries were part of the mix as were perhaps
manufacturing and somehow, painting was in the picture. Whether or not the painting was pre- or post-war has been lost in
the mists of time. Whatever it was he did for work clearly helped the family finances. He was about 12 years old.
Employment however, was not the only thing on Tom’s adolescent mind. East, across the great water, the Mighty Hun
was stampeding across Europe. Though the United States had declared neutrality, the horrors of invasions filled the
papers, exciting a patriotic fervor. As he recounts it, both he and his friend Tommy Eckles enlisted in the Massachusetts
State Guard without being completely honest about their ages. That date has never been known but history well records
that the United States entered what we have come to know as World War One. That which Tom’s unit was, became
Company M, 104th Infantry U.S.A.
Apparently Company M mustered originally at the Milford Armory though at some point conducted maneuvers on
Nantucket Island. Here again, Tom showed his skills at problem solving earlier described in the “Outhouse Arson and
Pigeon Wrangling” segments.
One particular recruit was something of an irritant. The tool for correction was clearly at hand, the Atlantic Ocean. In the
wee hours of the morning the sleeping pest and his cot were gently carried to the water’s edge as the tide rolled in, and
deposited. Back to bed for Tom and his cohorts. There was no need for reveille as dawn approached; the air was filled with
screams of “Help, I’m drowning (in knee deep water).” The victim’s comrades of course (innocently) ran to his rescue. He
must have been gratified for the daring retrieval for never did he run afoul of his tent mates again.
Soon after the return to Milford Company M marched to Ayer, MA where they camped while beginning the construction of
Fort (nee: Camp) Devens. On September 25, 1917 they departed for Montreal, arriving September 26, the same day that
they departed for Liverpool.
Little was told of this period with one exception. Yanks were not accustomed to seeing men in kilts. England used
double-decker buses where access to the upper level occurred via ladder. After only one experience the Americans
decided that they didn’t want to follow a gent in a kilt up the ladder leading to the top deck.
The British experience was brief, for Company M landed at Le Havre, France on October 24. At some point Company M
joined British and French troops in the trenches. The German lines were clearly visible. The Americans made a distinctly
poor but lasting impression upon both sides of the battlefield.
One morning, the Americans noticed a contingent of Germans bathing and doing laundry at a pond well within rifle
range. The Americans promptly released a fusillade upon the enemy. The loudest protests were however from French and
English trench mates. The Yanks were rather sternly advised that with the war at something of a stalemate that an
arrangement was made declaring the pond a neutral zone with scheduled use for either side.
The members of the Yankee Division informed their “friends” that being over a thousand miles from home, this war was
going to be finished, NOW! (Authors note: Tom told me that during weekends, French troops who had family nearby could
go on visits and that other nationalities might find a town for R and R. This tradition ended with the appearance of Company
M, et.al.) Apparently the American forces were compelling debaters; all such traditions ended then and there.
Tom’s retellings of his experiences were never told in chronological order and rarely if ever cited dates. His recitations
were most often humorous but sometimes thought provoking.
He told of receiving a letter from home in 1918, while awaiting orders to go “over the top” for an attack. An unheard of
disease, the Spanish Flu had taken the life of his brother Billy. He was devastated to the point where he recounted “I didn’t
care if I lived or died in the battle.” (Authors note: William Malloy’s name is memorialized on the family headstone at St.
Mary’s Cemetery in Milford, MA, but his body is somewhere in a mass grave at St. Mary’s, specific location unknown.)
Tom’s most harrowing tale was of being the unit’s burial officer. Following a winter battle, the battlefield was patrolled for
casualties. Tom saw a body in the snow and attempted to turn it over. The turning revealed two dead soldiers, one
American, one German. Each man’s bayonet was imbedded to the hilt in the other’s chest, the bodies frozen together in
death. “They were just kids. Cripes, in another day and time the might have become friends”. Papa was often emphatic
about a particular tradition of the day. One was not an adult until the age of 21, until then you were a child. He viewed the
war as one fought by children, frequently expounding on his disgust. Upon his discharge, April 20, 1919 he was 21 years,
11 days old. Barely a man.
His most oft told story involved his best friend, Tom Eckles with whom he had enlisted. The events occurred at the battle
of Chateau-Thierry in 1918. The troops had returned to their trenches and Malloy tried to account for all of his men. One was
missing, Eckles. Upon being given a description of where Eckles went down, he put on his pack, grabbed his gun and
started over the top. His lieutenant stopped him and Malloy said “My men, dead or alive, come home.” His attempted
rescue mission was briefly delayed when the lieutenant grabbed him, earning the officer a strong left fist.
It took hours, but he located the badly wounded Eckles. The wound was bound; Malloy hoisted him over his shoulder
and began his hike back to the lines. A German sniper shot Papa. The round went through his pack and through his armpit,
hitting no bone. Malloy and Eckles fell. They waited, motionless until the sniper moved. Through his last telling of this story
he spoke with regret that his one shot killed the German, but it was kill or be killed. Eckles was successfully delivered to a
hospital where Malloy was told to stay put for treatment of his wound. He advised the medical staff that with him and Eckles
in the hospital, his unit had neither a sergeant nor corporal and he was returning. That having been said, Tom threw his
pack and gun out a window and exited the same way, walking back to the trenches. An account of this event, written by
Tommy Eckles can be found elsewhere on this website.
(Authors note: In later life I asked Papa if he was ever worried about being court martialed and shot for having struck a
superior officer under combat conditions, constituting mutiny. His reply: “Nope. They knew what happened to the last clown
that took a shot at me.”).
The battles and skirmishes continued until November 11, 1918. Company M sailed from Brest, France on March 27,
1919 arriving in Boston on April 4, 1919. They mustered out at Camp Devens April 20, 1919.
The War to end all Wars was over.
END OF PART II
Memories Menu HOME
Somewhere in France
Dec. 7, 1917
One of your letters arrived here yesterday and believe me I was glad to
hear from you because it’s only the second letter I’ve received since I left the
States. The other one was from Rosie Sonier and I received that about two
weeks ago. I haven’t heard from home or received the package but except (sic)
things as they come and I expect those any day now if they haven’t gone down to
Davey Jones locker.
During the day we work pretty hard because our drills are stiff and snappy but
after hours they leave it to us to make a good time for ourselves somehow. Say!
We’ve got a ____________ in our room that would make you die laughing if you
could see it. In the first place it _______ one half resting on the other. We have
an iron plate for a cover and a piece of a Karo _________
Then we have a _________ that’s so big that I’m afraid a good draft will draw it
up through the chimney. I’m in a __________ with ________ and a fellow
named Clifford from the Eighth and they call us the “Wild Trio” because when
we get going why it’s not safe to come into the room without a ________ on
because your liable to get a trench shoe on the head. Oh. I’ve lost a lot of hair on
account of this war I have. I got a hair cut yesterday.
I don’t know what kind of stuff that “rat tail” is that they have in Ireland but if it’s
any worse than French tobacco why I’ll pass.
If we get into this scrap alright, if we don’t alright, that’s how much we’re
worrying. But while we drill we drill and theres no fooling about it. I sent a twenty
seven dollar money order home.
How is everybody at your house and mine? Tell Aunt Maggie that I was asking
for her and that I will write her a letter soon. It isn’t easy to send letters from here
the states. Show this letter to my mother and tell her not to worry about me
because I’m taking good care of myself. I’m liable to be passing on my stripes
anytime because I’m still under that same captain that I was telling you about the
last time I was home and you know how I pulled with him. He’s the one that
wouldn’t give me the telegram. I can be as good a private as a non-com. I’ve
been there before. Well don’t worry about me old scout because I’m alright.
From your kid nephew who thinks about you a lot.
Corp. Thomas F. Malloy
Co. M. 104th U.S Infantry
Am. Ex. Forces
beneath a basket of flowers.
Somewhere in France
Aug. 3, 1918
Dear Aunt Maggie,
Just a line to let you know that I am well and happy and hope that both you and all my cousins are the same.
How is Uncle Bill and his family? Tell him and all my friends that I would like to hear from them all.
From your loving nephew
Corp. Thomas F. Malloy
Co. M 104th U. S. Inf.
Sept. 22, 1918
I received your letter of Aug, 18 on the 20th of Sept, and believe me I was glad
to hear that everyone was well at your house and mine.
Where did you get that stuff that I wasn’t in the drive? Sure I was an I was with
Jack Powers the night he got his also Esmond and Fuller and believe me the air
was quite crowded with shells, machine gun bullets and gas, so you see I wasn’
t in Paris. I haven’t missed a day with the company
since I’ve been in France and I’ve been through everything with them. But I don’t
blame you for thinking I wasn’t with them because I don’t like to mention those
things and it’s been so long since I’ve really been in a house that I wouldn’t
know the kitchen from the bedroom, so when I said a nice French bed I meant a
pile of straw in a hayloft with the lovely cows and chickens below.
That picture you saw was taken by Louis Costello after we came out of the
trenches and were resting.
I had to laugh about what you said about Ike Sniderman, and I’ll bet if the old
gang was home his team
The Boche certainly has a great respect for Americans now and when we get
close he won’t fight because he thinks we are too willing. I’ve had the
satisfaction of being in the first line and be among the first to cross over land
the Germans held from the French since the beginning of the war. The people
of Milford needn’t worry about company M because they are head over heels in
this scrap to the finnish with the rest of the regiment. Was glad to hear that the
governor was better.
Give my regards to all From your nephew.
Corp. Thos. F. Malloy
Co. M. 104th Inf.
The Malloy family, Tom on right, after the war.
Tom on the right.
would have had a ten to one chance of going into the fire.
This is no place for you because things fly too thick for a married man with a
family like yours.
Have had a letter from both Johnny Connelly and Pete Norton but haven’t
heard from Barney Tarpey yet.
Thanks just the same for the tobacco, because by the time I sent an order for
some the rules would change and I’d have to start all over. We are issued Bull
Durham and that has the French weed beat forty ways.
Well what do the people think of the Tin Soldiers now? I think by the showing
the fellows have made they are not bowing to any outfit in France or the States.
the IGA Market. Click here for names.
A few notes regarding the letters below. I made every effort to follow his spelling,
paragraphing and punctuation such as to retain it's authenticity. Where I have
printed lines, they are representative of erasures. I can't imagine him erasing
something without correcting it so I think that a censor did the editing before it left
We're fast running out of relatives that might help with identifying these folks
leaving me with no clue as to the identity of "Unc." BW
ELECT THOS. F. MALLOY
I was pleased to learn that Thomas F. Malloy was going to be a candidate for Selectman at the next
election, and I feel that I should let the public know certain facts about him that modesty will probably
prevent him from telling you. I have known Thomas F. Malloy for about 15 years. He was a member of
the original Company M of Milford in the National Guard in 1916. When the war broke out, I was in the
same Company with him, which was Company M of the 104th Infantry, 26th Division, and it was this
same 104th Infantry that received from the French Government the first decoration received by any
American Infantry during the World War. We landed in France in September 1917, and the boys of our
Company were engaged in every serious encounter that took place during that hectic series of
campaigns that extended from February 1918 to November 1918. He was in the engagements at
Ainse, Marne, Apremont, Seichprey, Chateau-Thierry, and the Meuse-Argonne.
I will never forget July 19, 1918, and what happened on that day is what has caused me to come
forward and tell the people of Milford what kind of a man Thomas F. Malloy is. We were fighting in the
front line trenches in the offensive at Chateau-Thierry on July 19 when a machine gun bullet wounded
me in the left thigh, at about 3:15 p.m. and that wound disabled me so that I lay there in the battle area
while the fight was raging during the night, We were at the tip of a triangle driving in and our two
supporting flanks had not reached the advance that we had reached. There the fighting was raging all
day and all night, and it was dangerous to move anywhere until our two supporting flanks came up. I
was there on the ground from 3:15 in the afternoon until 9 the next morning, in a serious condition,
without any medical attention, and realizing the danger that I was in, it was this same Thomas F.
Malloy who took me up over his shoulder and carried me back about one mile. Most of the way he had
to carry me through muddy, swampy soil with the water up to his hips, with the battle raging and being
in extreme danger every minute of the time. While he was carrying me, he was hit by a bullet that had
gone through his pack and mess kit and wounded his left shoulder, and in this condition he carried
me back to our base where I could receive first aid. I was laid up in the hospital for months.
I know the heroic deed of Thomas F. Malloy saved my life, and I feel that the people of Milford should
know this. I believe that Malloy's service to his country entitles him to consideration by the voters of this
town. He was a soldier and a good one. For two years he was a patrolman on our streets and a good
one. He has always lived in Milford and has always proven to be a good, clean cut, honest fellow, and
I believe that if he was good enough to fight for his country, he ought to be good enough to be given a
chance to sit as one of the members of our Board of Selectmen. I know that he has the right stuff in
him. For what he has done in the past, I urge the people of Milford to support him.
Yours very truly,
THOMAS S. ECKLES
10 Thayer Street
Tom won the election. Both Tom Malloy and Tommy Eckles later lived and worked in Hopedale.
Eckles was a mailman and Malloy a police officer, and from 1943 to 1963, chief of police.
Tom's grandson, Gary Wright, wearing Tom's uniform.
Tom, front row, right, at the Chapin Street School.