Photo of a Poppy

Private John Flynn

1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers

Died 11 November 1914

John Flynn was born on 25 February 1891 at 49 St Michael Street, Dumfries, the illegitimate son of Jane Flynn, a weaver. By 1901 John and his sister were boarding with the Gilmour family at 14 Bank Street, Wigtown. In December 1909, while working as a farm servant, he enlisted with the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers using the name John Thomson. The battalion was stationed at Gosport in Hampshire when war was declared. He was soon sent to France, arriving at Le Havre on 14 August. This initial tranche of the British Expeditionary Force was to gain the nickname, The Old Contemptibles. German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, dismissive of the BEF, reportedly issued an order on 19 August 1914 to “exterminate…the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”. In later years, the survivors of the regular army dubbed themselves “The Old Contemptibles”.

On 11 November 1914, three months after arriving in France Private Flynn was dead, falling in the Battle of Nonne Bosschen, becoming the third man associated with Wigtown to be killed in the war. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres which bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

On 15 April 1915 his outstanding pay of £3 1s was passed to his widow, Jessie Marshall Thomson. After the war she was paid a War Gratuity of £5.