906th Company, Royal Army Service Corps (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
James Lynn was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn, of Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. James was born on 23 September 1882 in County Tyrone. The 1901 census shows 18 year old James as living with the family at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone. His father was a railway porter. Elizabeth was a dress maker. Sergeant James Lynn was serving with the 906th Company of the Royal Army Service Corps when he died in Haifa, Palestine on 7th August 1920, aged 37. The 906 Company, ASC, was formed in February 1917 and disbanded in June 1922 They served with Ismaila District in Egypt, as Corps Troops with the Desert Mounted Corps, and with North Force. Their role was 52 Auxiliary (Petrol) Company. Sergeant James Lynn was one of four brothers who died on service; two are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel.
James was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn (nee Abernethy). They were married in the Coalisland area on the 20th February 1883.
James Lynn was born on 23 September 1882 in County Tyrone.
The 1901 census shows 18 year old James as living with the family at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone. His father was a railway porter. Elizabeth was a dress maker.
Family: James Lynn, Elizabeth Lynn, James Lynn (born 23rd September 1882), Margaret Lynn (born 21st January 1884), Robert Lynn (born 13th November 1885), John Lynn (born 28th October 1887), Mary Lynn (born 27th July 1889), Eliza Lynn (born 5th July 1891), William Edward Lynn (born 3rd July 1895), Charlotte E E Lynn 1 (born 24th January 1900).
James Lynn enlisted on 19th August 1903. His Medal Card records indicates that he was with the Royal Field Artillery.
The 1911 census shows James is not living with the family at Mousetown, Meenagh, Tyrone. James's father was now a farmer.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 14th November 1914:
Mrs Lynn, Mousetown, has two sons, Bob and Jimmie, serving their King and country at the front. They are attached to the Royal Field Artillery. She has two others, Willie and Johnnie, preparing for the fray with the North Irish Horse
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th November 1914: Bombardier James Lynn, R.F.A.
Bombardier James Lynn, RFA, writing to his parents at Coalisland says ‘We are having it hot and heavy, but thank God I am safe yet, though I have had several narrow escapes. On Monday the corporal and I were laying out some field telephone wire over ground in view of the German trenches, not knowing how dangerous it was. When we got to the end of the wire, we knelt to attach the telephone, when the Germans opened up on us with a battery, machine guns and rifles. I shall never forget it. The Corporal was killed at my side, and a lance corporal of the Engineers about thirty yards away was wounded in the thigh. It was so decreed that I was not to fall. Humanly speaking, nothing could have lived through that hail of lead. Our trenches were about eighty yards off, and I did a sprint and fell into the first trench on top of two men, who were crushed, so I had to go to another trench fifty yards further on, which I reached, thank God, without a scratch. I have been recommended for gallantry on the field for obeying orders, and carrying them out under fire.’
Writing on 8th November to his brother, he says:- ‘I have been through the mill since I last saw you, but I am getting quite used to it now, though I have seen some sights I should not like to see again. No one knows it only the boys in the trenches and our boys behind the guns. The Royal Field Artillery have covered themselves in glory in this war, for it has been nearly all artillery work. The infantry have a hat time of it with ‘coal boxes’ and ‘Black Marias’, as we call the German shells. The noise of the explosion is something awful, and even when they do not take effect, the noise knocks one stupid. Our Indian soldiers, especially the Ghurkhas, made the enemy quake, and fairly back them with bayonets and knives. The weather is getting cold, and today is misty, and frost is threatening. We dig holes behind the guns and get straw and live like rabbits. You would laugh if you saw some of us boys with beards. I hear Bob Patterson is a prisoner of war.’
From the Tyrone Courier 3rd December 1914: Coalisland Man's Gallantry
Bombardier James Lynn, RFA, writing to his parents at Coalisland says 'We are having it hot and heavy, but thank God I am safe yet, though I have had several narrow escapes. On Monday the corporal and I were laying out some field telephone wire over ground in view of the German trenches, not knowing how dangerous it was. When we got to the end of the wire, we knelt to attach the telephone, when the Germans opened up on us with a battery, machine guns and rifles. I shall never forget it. The Corporal was killed at my side, and a lance corporal of the Engineers about thirty yards away was wounded in the thigh. It was so decreed that I was not to fall. Humanly speaking, nothing could have lived through that hail of lead. Our trenches were about eighty yards off, and I did a sprint and fell into the first trench on top of two men, who were crushed, so I had to go to another trench fifty yards further on, which I reached, thank God, without a scratch. I have been recommended for gallantry on the field for obeying orders, and carrying them out under fire.'
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th December 1914: Bombardier James Lynn
In a letter to his parents in Coalisland on 13th November, Bombardier James Lynn, Royal Field Artillery, says he is still attached to the field telephone party. It is, he writes, a most dangerous job, for when the wires are cut by shell fire, they have to go out in the open and make the necessary repairs, and they are thus an easy target for German snipers. There is, in his opinion, a great slackening down on the part of the Germans.
In a further letter, dated 23rd November he says:- ‘It is awfully cold here now. There is snow on the ground, and it has been snowing for the last four or five days. I am not in the trenches now, as we have taken shelter in a French restaurant, which has been fairly well riddled with shot and shell. The infantry in the trenches have provided themselves with all kinds of things that might serve as cover. They even have umbrellas, and the sight they present in their dug outs is very funny. I am well provided with clothes for the winter.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 26th December 1914: Bombardier James Lynn
Bombardier James Lynn, Royal Field Artillery, in a letter dated 30th November to his parents says:-
‘The weather is most unpleasant; the snow has cleared away, and we have wind and rain instead, which is most monotonous. We are living in underground trenches, which we have covered with a layer of thick branches, thin straw, and earth on top of all this. We have made fire places in them and have fires during the day, though it is very cold at night. We are doing very little firing at present, and with the exception of a little bit of sniping, the Germans are also quiet. I hope you are not worrying about your two sons being away at the war, as lots of other parents have given a number of boys to the Empire, and thousands of brothers are fighting side by side at this very moment, and a good many of them have died, while, thank God, Bob and I are still spare. I must say I am ashamed of the country I belong to. I saw in the paper that some young men from Rock went off as fast as they could to America when mention was made of compulsory service. I would like to see some of them in the trenches. Remember me to all at home.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 26th December 1914: Bombardier James Lynn
Writing on 5th December, Bombardier Lynn says:-
‘I was glad to have the Mid Ulster Mail, and was very glad to see some of my previous letters appearing therein. I enclose you now a special contribution, which I hope will also be published as it will show up the slackers. As the time goes on, one can realise more the seriousness of this struggle. It is an awful sight to see the refugees day after day as we see them pass by, some with little children looking for shelter, generally a barn or outhouse, until they can safely return to their homes, then perhaps only to find them looted or levelled to the ground. It is a good job this is not happening at home. Just fancy being shelled out of house and home, perhaps wounded, and looking back at your home in flames. One’s thoughts are then - Where shall I go; which way shall I turn, or where shall I get my next meal? We see thousands of people in this predicament every day, trudging along in rain and snow, with the odds of the world against them on all sides. Yet there are many able-bodied men at home standing back while these poor wretches are suffering such hardships. Should this not make them ashamed of themselves, and say ‘I’m going to enlist and keep the old flag flying, and die fighting on the battlefield for its glory and honour, sooner than remain at home and die with friends around my bedside’. Let us hope these eligible young men who are holding back will adopt this course before too late. Although we are not fighting much at present, we shall soon be in the thick of it again. I heard from a very good source that the war will finish up early in summer, as German supplies will then be exhausted, and she finds it difficult to fill the ranks afresh of the countless numbers she has lost. She lost the best of her men in the retreat from Mons and in the battle for Calais. ‘French’s contemptible little army’ wastes too much for the Germans, and no praises are good enough for our lads when you think of all we have been through, to give them their due, they are very game.’
From the Tyrone Courier 21st January 1915:
Coalisland Man Wounded. Bombardier James Lynn, writing from 'Somewhere in France', to his parents in Coalisland on 5th-inst, states that he has been slightly wounded in the head, but remains at his post. He is also worried with a very severe attack of cold. He has heard that they will shortly be allowed home for a short holiday, and that there places will be taken by Kitchener's new army. Three months more he says, should see the struggle nearly over. He sent Princess Mary's Christmas Box and their Majesties photo Christmas Card to his parents to be carefully preserved for him. He also mentions that Alex Proctor and Hugh John Cairns of Coalisland are now in the firing line.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 27th March 1915: Letter from the King
Mr James Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, whose four sons, Bob, James, Willie and John are now at the front, has received the following letter from Buckingham Palace. 18th March 1915.
‘Sir, I have the honour to inform you that the King has heard with much interest that you have at the present moment four sons in the army. I am commanded to express to you the King’s congratulations, and to assure you that’s His Majesty much appreciates the spirit of patriotism which prompted this example, in one family, of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign and Empire. I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant, T M Ponsonby, Keeper of the Privy Purse.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 10th April 1915: Coalisland Chums in the Trenches
Private Alexander Proctor, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, writing to his father, Mr Joseph Proctor, Coalisland, says that he and Willie Lynn are of the same company, are quite well, and go to the trenches together. He received a number of letters from Coalisland friends and a parcel of socks, shirts and other comforts from Miss Adams, Torrent Hill, and the members of the sewing class. The parcel came at the right time. His thoughts had been with them on the night of the annual ball in Coalisland, and he had been very glad to know they had a good time. But they would have greater festivities when, with God’s help, they would all arrive safe at home.
Private William Lynn also wrote mentioning they had taken part in warding off a great attack by the Germans on Sunday 14th March. It lasted from the afternoon until the following morning, and at times he thought it was all over with them, but he and Proctor had come safely through. It was a terrible position lying in the trenches with shells bursting around them and bullets whistling past and seeing their comrades fall.
Sergeant James Lynn, 43rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, also writes to Coalisland that his brother, Willie Lynn, and Alex Procter, are ten miles from him, but they are in the right place for plenty of fighting. There had been lots of fighting, and as the weather was clearing up, much more might be expected. There were a great number of his Orange brethren there from all parts of Ulster, and he could say that they were the boys that feared no noise.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 15th May 1915:
Private James Lynn, of the 43rd Battery Royal Field Artillery, writing to friends at Coalisland, under date 3rd May says:- ‘I am sorry at not writing before, but I had plenty to do this last few weeks. I have not heard anything from Willie or Alex this good while as their regiment was attacking, and the other battalion that Robert Cardwell and Abernethy are in were also fighting very hard. I hope they are all safe. It is lovely weather now, and I feel quite a new man after what we had to put up with all winter. I am very much afraid the war is going tom last another winter unless we make a good start now. Remember me to all the boys.’
From the Tyrone Courier dated 17th June 1915 – Coalisland Men in the Trenches – An Appeal to Shirkers
Mr William Cardwell, Derry Green, Coalisland, has received the following letter from his brother, Private R Cardwell, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers:-
‘Just a few lines to let you know I received your letter and papers, as did also T Abernethy. The Germans used the gasses on us again for the second time; they gave us a better does this time but we have got respirations (respirators) for putting over our mouths. It is a terrible thing. We had a letter from J Lynn; he was only slightly wounded by shrapnel. They had a night attack and I am sorry to say they lost a good few. J Cunningham, P Corr, Young Patton from Pike’s Bridge and R J Frizelle were all killed. Another man we knew is missing but might turn up yet. We lost our machine gun sergeant; he was sniped through the head beside me. He belonged to Scarva and was a right good chap.’
Private Cardwell mentions that he and T Abernethy received parcels of comforts and concludes by asking to be remembered to all his old friends. Mr Cardwell also received a letter, signed by Private Albert Buckley, of the 1st Irish Fusiliers, in which he states:-
‘Just a few lines hoping to find you well as we are enjoying the best of health. We had a very rough time this last while. The Germans have been using poisonous gasses and several other poisonous shells. But we are holding our own. Since the 25th April up to the present we have had some heavy engagements but have come through safe so far. I hope to see the Ulster Volunteers out here soon. We are waiting for Kitchener’s army to come up to the fighting line till we get a week’s rest. We have done our share of fighting since we started. One thing we enjoy is the issue of rum; when we get it we are in proper fighting order. I would like the young men of Coalisland and surrounding districts to realise we are engaged in one of the greatest struggles the world has ever seen and the more men we have, we will beat them the sooner. We are not downhearted yet.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 19th June 1915: The Lynns
The four sons of Mr and Mrs James Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, now fighting in France for King and country.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 24th June 1915 – Four Sons at the Front
The four sons of Mr and Mrs James Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, are at present at the front; Driver R Lynn, and Bombardier J Lynn being with the 6th Division Royal Field Artillery, Sergeant W Lynn on the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers and Private J Lynn with the 2nd Inniskillings.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 26th June 1915: Bombardier Lynn and the Twelfth
Bombardier James Lynn, 43rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, writing from the western front to friends in Coalisland says:-
‘I saw Alex (Private Alexander Proctor, 2nd Battalion Irish Fusiliers) and Willie (Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Irish Fusiliers) the other day, and both of them looked well after having such a rough time of it. They were glad to seem me and I to see them. I have heard that Jack and Hugh Cairns were wounded Their regiment went forward with the same old dash and soon made the Germans hop it – Good old Inniskillings; they did some good work but they have lost heavily. The Germans are very cunning, but they don’t like to meet the British, as they know they always get a good basting. I see by the papers that there will be no Twelfth this year. I think it is a good idea, as it would not look nice on account of all the boys being away. However, I hope with God’s help, the war won’t last much longer and that we will get home safe although I am very afraid of it.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 22nd July 1915 – Coalisland Soldiers' Thanks
Mrs S Gauden, The Rectory, Coalisland, has received several interesting letters from local soldiers at the front in acknowledgment of comforts. Bombardier James Lynn, 43rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, writes “Your very useful parcel reached me safely, and I am very thankful to you and my friends in Coalisland for the same. I don't know what we would have done, had it not been for our friends at home. I am very pleased to say and thankful to God I have come through so far safe in this most dreadful campaign. The people at home cannot realize how awful it is, the destruction of whole towns and villages, especially prominent buildings like churches – they have suffered most. The Germans are not particular where their shells drop. Our people at home may be thankful that the Germans have not got the chance to ruin and destroy our country the way they have destroyed Belgium and France. But a day of reckoning is in store for the Huns and we pray that we may come out victorious. They have tried all kinds of man-killing devices against us but nothing has come up to the inhuman use of poisonous gases. It would make your blood run cold to see the agonies and tortures our boys have suffered but still we hold them and mean to do or die before we surrender. I think it is near time our people started using something against them for nothing is too cruel to use. We had some gas shells over yesterday and we felt the effects of it, but no harm was done. We have our respirators always at hand for we never know the minute when we may have to use them. I am writing this in a dug-out halfway between our lines and the Germans and the roar of guns and rifle fire is deafening sometimes. I am that well used to it now, I take very little heed of it. The job I am at is not a very safe one; it is telephone and signal work between our guns and the trenches and often the wire gets out with shrapnel and we have to go and repair it, not a very pleasant job during an attack where bullets and shells are as thick as rain. I consider than I am more than lucky, although I have had some very narrow escapes. I thank God I am able to write this after what I have seen and come through. I am very glad to hear both father and mother are both well; it must be a very trying time for them. I have just heard that Willie has been wounded and in England and John he is not recovered from his wounds yet. I must now close and am very pleased that we are not forgotten by our friends at home.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th August 1915: Bombardier James Lynn
Bombardier James Lynn, 6th Division Royal Field Artillery, writing from France to friends in Coalisland referred in feeling terms to the death in action of his brother, Driver Robert Lynn, and to the wounding of his other two brothers, but as he says, somebody had to go and he was one of them. It was during the last operations that he was killed.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 25th September 1915:
Bombardier James Lynn, 43rd Battalion Royal Field Artillery, writing from France to friends in Coalisland says:-
‘I am glad to know you are all well at home. I had a letter from Alexander (Private Alexander Proctor, now in France) yesterday and he is safe and well. I hope (word) has been heard from Tom (Private Thomas Proctor, now at the Dardanelles) before that the Tenth Division had a rough time for a few days after they landed but they showed the Turks that the Irish can fight with the best of them. I supposed everything is quiet in Coalisland now, and as I am expecting to get some leave soon, I hope to see you all.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 16th October 1915: Gunner James Lynn
Gunner James Lynn, Royal Field Artillery. Writing to friends in Coalisland on 1st October says:-
‘This leaves me very well at present and I am still in the land of the living. I hope to see you all this winter if everything goes well until then. At present the Germans are getting a good hiding all along the line and I expect you will have heard the news. It is the best we have done yet, but the fighting is very heavy. The weather is awful at present and it is a great drawback, as there is nothing but rain and up to our eyes in mud. Remember me to all the boys.’
From the Tyrone Courier dated 4th November 1915:
Gunner James Lynn, Royal Field Artillery, has returned to Coalisland and looks very fit after fourteen months’ campaigning. He is the third brother who has returned and his fourth brother was killed some months ago.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th June 1915: Bombardier James Lynn on the Gas
Writing to his friends in Coalisland, Bombardier James Lynn, 43rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, states that the infantry had a rough time of it for a week or so, but things were now quiet, although further work might soon be expected. Jack’s battalion had captured two lines of trenches from the Germans. His brother and Cairns were together, but he had had no word from them lately, so did not know how they had got on. The gas that the Germans were using was awful, and nothing could live in front of it. Grass, trees and plants withered up the same as if they were burned. He wished to be mentioned to old friends, a number of whom he particularly named.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 12 October 1916: Dungannon Council - Rank and File's Heavy Losses
The Clerk mentioned that Mr James Lynn, of Mousetown, Coalisland, had had three sons killed in action, and Mr William J Cumberland, of Kilnacart, had lost two sons in action. Mr Harkin said he was personally acquainted with the Lynns and he knew no sadder case than theirs. There were four brothers serving and the three young men who had been killed had volunteered since the beginning of the war and two of them at least had received promotion. The War Office, he understood, intended placing the fourth boy on home service. He proposed that letters of sympathy be sent to both families. Mr Irwin, in seconding, said Mr Cumberland had three sons serving and now only one of them was left. Messrs. McMinn and Elliott supported the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
James Lynn's Medal Card confirms he was the recipient of the Military Medal. His Medal Card also shows he was discharged on 4th December 1917 due to illness. His third brother had died in August 1916.
From the Tyrone Courier and Dungannon News dated Thursday 4 July 1918:
Mr James Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, has just received from the War Office the Military Medal awarded to his son Bombardier James Lynn, Royal Field Artillery, for conspicuous bravery at La Chapelle during the First Battle of Ypres on 21st October 1914 by keeping up communication between the Infantry and the Artillery and for devotion to duty. Three of Mr Lynn's soldier's sons have fallen in action and the fourth after being permitted to return home has been recalled to the colours.
Sergeant James Lynn was serving with the 906th Company of the Royal Army Service Corps when he died in Haifa, Palestine on 7th August 1920, aged 37.
The 906 Company, ASC, was formed 20th February 1917 and disbanded 30th June 1922 They served with Ismaila District in Egypt, as Corps Troops with the Desert Mounted Corps, and with North Force. Their role was 52 Auxiliary (Petrol) Company. These details are taken from Col. Michael Young's history 'Army Service Corps 1902-1918' which also informs that Sergeant Lynn's service number prefix indicates that, post-war, he re-enlisted under AO 4/19.
Sergeant James Lynn was one of four brothers who died on service; two are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel.
A plaque was unveiled in Coalisland Church of Ireland Parish Church in memorial of the Lynn brothers. This original Lynn Memorial Tablet was replaced after damage occurred to it during renovations to Brackaville Parish Church. The original was a beautiful scroll tablet. The current memorial states:
“Erected by sorrowing parents James and Elizabeth Lynn, Mousetown. In Loving Memory of their three sons who fell in action. Driver Robert Lynn R.F.A Killed at Ypres, 6th August 1915. Sergeant William E Lynn, Royal Irish Fusiliers Killed at Mailly Maillet, 16th July 1916. Private John Lynn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers killed at Ypres, 9th August 1916. Also Sergeant James Lynn A.S.C died on active service at Haifa, Palestine, 6th August 1920. In defence of King Country and Right “God is good, he will give us grace to bear our heavy cross, He is the only one who knows how bitter is our loss” ”