1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
17/07/1916 (Killed in Action)
William Edward was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn, of Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. William Edward was born on 3rd July 1895 in Derrywinnen in County Tyrone. The 1901 census shows William as 5 years old. The family lived at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone. Charles was a railway porter. Elizabeth was a dress maker. The 1911 census shows William as a 15 year old general labourer. The family now lived at Mousetown, Meenagh, Tyrone. William’s father James was now a farmer. Sergeant William Edward Lynn was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers when he died on 17th July 1916, age 21. Sergeant William Edward Lynn was one of four brothers who died on service; two are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel. In 1917, a plaque was unveiled in Coalisland Church of Ireland Parish Church in memorial of the Lynn brothers.
William Edward was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn (nee Abernethy). They were married in the Coalisland area on the 20th February 1883.
William Edward Lynn was born on 3rd July 1895 in Derrywinnen in County Tyrone.
The 1901 census shows William as 5 years old. The family lived at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone. Charles 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).
The 1911 census shows William as a 15 year old general labourer. The family now lived at Mousetown, Meenagh, Tyrone. William's father James 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
Sergeant William Lynn arrived in France with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on 22nd February 1915.
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 17th April 1915: Sergeant Lynn’s Experiences
Writing to friends at Coalisland, Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers says he came through all recent fighting safely. On Sunday 14th March, he was sitting in the dugout when at 2:30pm, just as if someone had pressed a button, a tremendous fire was opened by the German artillery and rifles. A mound that his company was occupying was blown up, and for about two minutes, the ground for half a mile in extent shook like an earthquake. The Germans then rushed the English and succeeded in capturing the trenches, which were untenable after the explosion. That was in one part of the British lines; but in another part, the infantry made a most determined stand and kept up such a well-directed fire that the enemy’s losses were terrible. The British stood to their post to the last and were forced back by sheer weight of numbers and the Germans rushed the support trenches and penetrated into a small village. They were not allowed to hold their new positions for long, for a counter attack was made at three o’clock in the morning which however was but partly successful. Another counter attack was made about two hours later when the Germans were completely driven back, except from the mound, where they had placed machine guns. The British artillery, however shelled it with great effect and arms and legs could be seen flying in the air. Those of the enemy who attempted to flee from the mound were fairly bowled over by the British Infantry, who were only some 150 yards away. When morning came, the Germans showed greater humanity than they usually did. They allowed the stretcher bearers to go in at very close range and carry away the wounded and did not attempt to fire on them. Sergeant Lynn’s company were relieved that night for a short rest, which they sorely needed. On Easter Sunday the Germans in the trenches pushed up a sheet of paper on which was written ‘Peaceful Easter’, but five minutes afterwards the British artillery sent them some British eggs (shells) which did not agree with them, as three of their trenches were blown in. Sergeant Lynn states that he is in the best of health and spirits, and hopes, with God’s help, to return home safely.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th June 1915: Coalisland Men on the Twelfth
Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, writing to Mr Joseph Proctor, Coalisland, says:-
‘I am well and getting on all right. We came out of the trenches a couple of days ago for a rest, and I tell you we had need of it. We were properly done up, having ben in the firing line since Good Friday with the exception of a few days. I had a post card yesterday from T Abernethy, saying that Cardwell and he were both well. I had begun to think that some of them were knocked over as they had lost a lot of men in the big battle lately. I was therefore very glad to see they were all right. None of the Coalisland boys had been knocked out yet and I hope it will continue so. I am afraid there will be a small turnout this Twelfth. Alex Proctor and I were just talking about it and wishing we might be home for it, but I doubt that the war is not going to be over so soon. I never saw Alex looking better than he does at present, and you would have to laugh if you could see his big red face. Indeed, I never felt better myself considering the hardships we have withstood since we came out.’
Private Alexander Proctor, Machine Gun Section, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers says:-
‘He is quite well and so is Sergeant William Lynn of Coalisland, who belongs to the same battalion. the battalion to which his chums Abernethy and Cardwell belonged had lost heaving in recent fighting, but they themselves were all right. The Germans were losing along the line, and the French had captured a thousand of them and some guns. He thought, with God’s help, they would be home for the Twelfth of July yet, and hoped that the drums would be in good order.
On 18th June 1915, Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, had his leg fractured and was removed to hospital in Manchester.
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 Belfast Newsletter dated 1st July 1915:
Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has written to his parents at Coalisland, stating that he sustained a fractured leg on 18th June, and is now in hospital at Manchester.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 3rd July 1915: Sergeant Lynn Expects to Get Home
Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, writes:-
‘You will be surprised to see I am in hospital in Manchester. I got my ankle fractured at Armentieres on the 18th June. It was very painful for the first few days, but the pain is now much easier. I never expected to get home with it, and was very glad to see the shores of England. A lot of wounded soldiers from the Dardanelles are in this hospital, and tell wonderful stories of the battles being fought for the honour and glory of Britain. I expect to get home on seven days furlough, and am anxiously looking forward to seeing you all again.’
From the Tyrone Courier dated 8th July 1915:
Sergeant W Lynn, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has written to his parents in Coalisland stating that he had his leg fractured on 18th ult. and is now in hospital in Manchester.
In September 1915, Sergeant William Lynn and his brother, Private John Lynn, returned home to Coalisland to recover from wounds received in France.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 23 September 1915:
Sergeant William Lynn, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers and his brother Private John Lynn 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have returned home to Coalisland to recover from wounds received in France. In addition Private Lynn had contracted enteric fever.
A report in the Mid Ulster Mail from 22 July 1916 reported how Sergeant Lynn had written to his family describing how he had survived the 1st July at the Somme without a scratch. He also reports that he had been 'recommended' for carrying wounded back to friendly trenches. Sadly though, by the time the time the report made the newspaper, Sgt Lynn had been killed in action.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 22 July 1916: Sergeant Lynn on the Great Battle
Sergeant William Lynn, Royal Irish Fusiliers, writing to his mother, Mrs J Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, on 9th July says:-
'I am in the best of health and spirits, and it is only God above I have to thank for it. I have been through one of the fiercest battles that has been yet, and came through without a scratch, although my comrades fell heavy all around me. The Germans put up a very stubborn fight, and we got it tight enough. It was splendid to see how all the boys went forward with a good heart. We were in a position to see the first lot go forward. Then came our turn, and they fairly let us have it with shells of all calibre, machine guns and rapid fire. About fifty of us held part of the captured German trenches for over twelve hours under a heavy bombardment and repeated bombing attacks from the Germans. It was here I did some good work myself – all the time standing up bombing and carrying in wounded between our line and the German second line. I am pleased to hear I have been recommended. It has gone through to general headquarters. It will be a few months before I hear what the returns will be. I wish I could get a chance of sending some of the souvenirs home that I have. I got a helmet and a gas helmet and lots of other small things, but it will be impossible to keep them all.'
Sergeant William Edward Lynn was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers when he was killed in action at Mailly-Maillet on 17th July 1916, age 21.
Sergeant Lynn was killed by a shell while carrying in a wounded comrade. Sergeant Lynn had been recommended for his courage and gallantry.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 27 July 1916:
Mrs Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland, who had four sons at the front, one of whom was killed in August 1915, has received intimation that another of them – Sergeant William Lynn, Irish fusiliers – was killed by a shell on the 17th July while carrying in a wounded comrade. Sergeant Lynn had been recommended for his courage and gallantry.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 29 July 1916: Sergeant William Lynn
Sergeant William Lynn, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers (one of the four soldier sons of Mrs Lynn, Mousetown, Coalisland), was killed by a shell on Sunday 16th July, while engaged in meritorious work of carrying in a wounded comrade. Sergeant Lynn, who had been at the front since the commencement of the war, had played a very conspicuous part in the big advance on 1st July, and had been recommended for his courage and gallantry in heading bombing parties and bringing in the wounded. The sad news was conveyed to the bereaved mother in a letter from Sergeant G Craig, who wrote:-
'I regret to tell you of the death of your son, William, which took place in the firing line on Sunday evening, about 5:30 O'clock. We were getting heavily shelled, and your son was doing a gallant act in carrying away wounded, when a shell burst in front of him and killed him instantaneously. He suffered no pain whatever. Please accept the deepest sympathy of from all the boys of No 16 Platoon, for he was well liked by all of us, and we mourn his loss. He was always happy and cheerful, and had been recommended for his gallant work in the field on 1st July, during our great advance. We mourn the loss of a comrade dear, so good, so king, so brave;
Died on the battlefield of France, Now sleeps in a hero's grave.'
Second Lieutenant A J Butler, of the same battalion, has written to the bereaved mother as follows:-
'I very much regret to inform you of the death of your son, Sergeant Lynn. The trench he and his men were in occupation of at the time was being heavily shelled by the Germans, and three men were buried in a shelter. One of the men was badly injured and your son went for the nearest stretcher in order to take the man to hospital. On returning to the trench with a stretcher, a shell burst close by, and he and a comrade who accompanied him, too cover in a gun emplacement. Immediately afterwards another shell dropped on the emplacement and buried your son and the other man. Both were killed instantly, and that evening he was taken back some distance behind the lines and buried in a small military cemetery, the chaplain and some of his comrades being in attendance. I should like to mention that your son's death is a great loss to my company and also to the regiment, as he was a particularly gallant and courageous soldier on all occasions. For his good work and conspicuous bravery in the German trenches on 1st July, when we commenced the great advance, your son's name was sent in to the higher authority for consideration. On behalf of all ranks of the company, I beg to offer you our deepest sympathy in the irreparable loss you have sustained. If it is any consolation to you to have the knowledge, he died a gallant and true soldier laying down his life endeavouring to succour others.'
Private Robert Cardwell, another member of the same battalion, in a letter to Thomas Holmes, William Street, Coalisland, says:-
'I am very sorry to break the sad news about Willie Lynn. He was killed on 16th July by a German shell when trying to get another chap into safety who was wounded. We all came through the big battle of 1st July quite safe and Willie was recommended by his Company Officer so it was very hard lines and it is a great pity of his mother. He did not suffer very much pain as death was sudden, and one never knows the minute out here. The last time I saw him alive was on 13th July when we were talking about the good old times we used to have, and we had hoped we would be home for the next celebrations. Little did I think it would be the last time I would see him alive. His father and mother would have the consolation that he died a hero's death. He was a good soldier and was well liked by all who knew him.'
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 12th August 1916:
Private William Lynn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed on 16th July. He was the youngest son of Mr James Lynn, Mousetown House, Coalisland, and brother of Private Robert Lynn, who was killed on 6th August 1915.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 2nd September 1916:
In connection with the death of Sergeant William Lynn, who was killed on 16th July Private Robert Cardwell (Coalisland), 1st Battalion, Royal Irish fusiliers, writing to his brother, Mr W J Cardwell, Derry Green, Coalisland, says:-
'Poor W Lynn did not live long after he was hit, nor did he get time to say anything. He was badly hit in the head and body, and there was another chap named Monaghan, a stretcher bearer, killed along with him. They were going with a stretcher to get another man away who was wounded when over came another shell. They ran into an old machine gun pit for cover, but the shell landed right on top of it and buried them. He died a hero's death trying to save others, and both of them were buried side by side at four o'clock in the morning. I could tell you the name of the place but it would not pass the censor.'
Last Will and Testament
Last Will and testament of William Lynn:
'In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my mother, Mrs J Lynn, Coalisland, County Tyrone, Ireland. 6700 Sergeant W Lynn. D Company. 1st Royal Irish Fusiliers. 16 June 1916.'
Sergeant W E Lynn is buried in Auchonvillers Military Cemetery, France. Auchonvillers is approximately twenty kilometres south of Arras
Sergeant William Edward Lynn was one of four brothers who died on service; two are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel.
In 1917, a plaque was unveiled in Coalisland Church of Ireland Parish Church in memorial of the Lynn brothers. The original was a beautiful scroll tablet.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 16th August 1917: Memorial to Three Brothers
A marble tablet has been erected in Coalisland Parish Church to the memory of the three brothers Lynn, son of Mr James Lynn, of Mousetown, killed in action. Driver Robert Lynn, R.F.A., was killed at Ypres on 6th August 1915; Sergeant William E Lynn, Royal Irish Fusiliers, succumbed to wounds received at Mailly-Maillet on 16th June 1916, and Private John Lynn, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, was killed at Ypres on 9th August 1916.
The photo shows the parents of the Lynn brothers, with all four sets of medals.
This original Lynn Memorial Tablet was replaced after damage occurred to it during renovations to Brackaville Parish Church. 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.’
Sergeant William Edward Lynn is commemorated locally on Dungannon War Memorial.
The CWGC record Sergeant William Edward Lynn as the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn, of Mousetown, Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. It also records that he was one of four brothers who died on service during the First World War; two of whom are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel.