87th Battery, Royal Field Artillery (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
06/08/1915 (Killed in Action)
Robert Lynn was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn, of Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. Robert was born on 14 November 1885 in Gortgonis in County Tyrone. The 1901 census shows Robert is not living with the family at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone. James was a railway porter. Elizabeth was a dress maker. Driver Robert Lynn was serving with the 87th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery when he died in Ypres, Belgium on 6th August 1915, aged 30. Driver Robert 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.
Robert Lynn was the son of James and Elizabeth Lynn (nee Abernethy). They were married in the Coalisland area on the 20th February 1883.
Robert was born on 14 November 1885 in Gortgonis in County Tyrone.
The 1901 census shows Robert is not living with the family at Derry, Tullyniskane, Tyrone.
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 Robert is not living with the family at Mousetown, Meenagh, Tyrone. William's father James was now a farmer.
Robert Lynn is referenced as living at Cecil Street, Portadown, although he is not listed there in the 1911 census.
Coalisland men Hugh John Cairns on the left is pictured with Robert Lynn on the right. Photo courtesy of Robert Butler.
Driver Robert Lynn arrived in France with the Royal Field Artillery on 11th September 1914.
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 21st November 1914: Driver Robert Lynn
Driver Robert Lynn, of the 87th Battery Royal Field Artillery, writing under date of 31st October to friends at Coalisland, says that he was sure they had seen by the papers the accounts of the various battles. The people at home know more how the war is progressing than the boys at the front. We are having a bit of a rough time here with plenty of scrapping. I am still dodging German bullets, though about a week ago we were in none position, and I thought it was all up with us. It started about three o’clock in the morning, and a terrible fire lasted all day, in fact a proper artillery duel. We had twelve casualties in our troop. My two horses got hit just as I was giving them a bit of spur to get out of their range, but I dragged them on. I was never so glad to see a day over in my life. We had a few more severe days at the Battle of Aisne, but we never came as near the enemy as today. We were sure the guns were gone as we had to leave them, but we went back with a rush and got them out again. You should have heard the Germans shout as they advanced. We had a regiment of infantry with us about fifteen hundred strong, but after that terrible night they numbered scarcely two hundred. It was an awful sight to see them; they were running up into the firing line, some without rifles, and we had to give ours. The Germans are very cruel, and sometimes it is all up with our chaps when they get into their heads. They have this country ruined, and it is sad to see every town you come to looted and destroyed , and some of the finest buildings you ever saw tumbled to the ground by shell fire, but their own country will suffer by and by. You would laugh at them coming into action. They come in millions, no skirmishing order, just in lumps, and they make fine targets. They fall in heaps in front of our chaps. They must be losing an awful lot of men, and you would think that after one good hard day’s fighting that they were nearly wiped out, but still they come in droves. Our chaps are all expecting to be home for Christmas, but I think it won’t be over so soon as that. We are all about fed up listening to shell fire day and night; it never stops. I saw R McNally when I was coming through the base. His battery caught it very hard, and he is resting there at present. I have never yet seen Patterson (Robert Patterson officially reported as a prisoner of war). McNally will not forget the Battle of Mons in a hurry. He was nearly in tears when I was talking to him, as most of his chums in the battery had been killed.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 28th November 1914: Driver Robert Lynn
Driver Robert Lynn, of the Royal Field Artillery, in a letter to his mother dated 24th October says:- ‘This week has seen the hardest fighting we have been in yet. One morning it was like open hell with shell fire on our battery. Near night the Germans were almost on top of us, and they fell in heaps before our guns and infantry. Poor fellows! It was the last handful of a regiment, 1,300 or 1,400 strong. Our guns were almost captured only for the bravery of an officer. One of my horses was shot and it put the fear of God into me when I saw horses and men falling around me and I was waiting every second for my turn. It was awful. As I write this the shells are flying around. The country people around here are fleeing for their lives in all directions. I saw one house hit, and a woman and a few children were fleeing from it, and the poor woman with a baby in her arms dropped exhausted at our feet. The South African War was not a pin scratch to one of these engagements. I never had better health or better appetite. I have never caught a cold. We get lots of tobacco and cigarettes, and we are getting more comfortable clothing, but we are fighting fifty to one and need more men. Tell father if I am spared to return I shall take him a souvenir in the shape of a German’s lancer’s belt or helmet. Please send me a weekly paper giving the home news.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 23rd January 1915:
Driver R Lynn, of the 87th Battery Royal Field Artillery, writing to his friends in Coalisland, states:-
‘We are having some terrible bad weather here, a continual downpour of rain and sleet, which makes us very miserable as well as anything else. I can hardly remember anything like it in Ireland. Not even the monsoons in India are as bad. The roads are covered with water. The rivers are overflowed into the fields, but in the trenches it is up to the waist with mud and water, and the banks are falling in. There are plenty of our chaps beginning to feel rheumatism coming on. I tell you it is no wonder. We get an occasional spell to ourselves, which we take the advantage of for a hot water bath and a complete change if we are lucky to get it. The Germans must be in an awful state. When there is any of them captured, they are in a terrible state of filth and starvation. Their officers keep them to it. If they make any hesitation they are shot down by their own men. We are all right for food and clothes, and our chaps are thanking the people at home for what they have done for us out here. We are now waiting for Kitchener’s Army to come up in the firing line to get a week’s rest. I think we have done our share of the fighting since we started. Everywhere we have met the Germans they were always ten to one, but don’t forget when you look over the death roll every week that the Germans are five times that many. There is no mistake, our fellows have never been so pressed before. Never in any campaign have they showed so much courage. The Germans would rather meet any other nation as meet us. They loose all heart, and when the heart is gone, the fight is lost. Many a time I think the Lord must be on our side. There is no ‘kid about it, my luck has been great. I am in the best of health and spirits.’
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 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 3rd July 1915: Driver Lynn’s Experiences
Driver Robert Lynn, 57th Battery Royal Field Artillery, writing to his mother under date 23rd June, says:-
‘I am in the best of form. I was with Jimmie (Bombardier James Lynn, 43rd Battery) for three or four days, and he gone off a bit now. I did not get the chance of seeing Willie nor Mr Dysart. I see all the ambulances going past, and might by chance meet him. The weather is very fine here at present. It is terrible about Hugh John Cairns. The Germans must have captured him and one him in. There are lots of chaps lying in woods and places rotting away, soldiers that nobody knows anything about. We come across them many a time lying there fully equipped. If the Germans capture any of our fellows in small lots, they don’t take them prisoners, but simply butcher them to death. I saw in the ‘Dungannon News’ where Wing Espey was home on leave. We only get four days and that is not much good. I met a young chap named Pherson, whose father used to be gamekeeper at Lowry’s, and was talking to him a few times. You want to see this place in ruins - not a standing building – and it is terrible going through it at night with not a soul about. The people here are very poor, and this will make them worse, but someone will have to pay for it.’
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 15th July 1915: Solicitude For The Dead
Writing to his parents at Killymeal, Dungannon, from France, Corporal Johnston, of the machine gun section 2nd Inniskillings, says:- 'I see by the newspapers that Driver Lynn, R.F.A., (of Coalisland), says he supposes that a Coalisland chum has been taken prisoner and then killed. Well the Germans are not so bad as all that, for some of our men got taken single-handed, and are alive and well. As for British soldiers (presumably prisoners), seen lying dead, I think he is wrong. The only place one could see dead bodies is in what we call 'No Man's Land,' between opposing trenches, and even there it is seldom, for our men often risk their lives to bring in chum's bodies, and place them in a little graveyard.'
From the Tyrone Courier dated 29th July 1915 (one week before he was killed in action) -
Driver Robert Lynn, of the Royal Field Artillery, writes :- 'I received your kind and welcome parcel alright and I am very thankful to you for remembering the soldiers at the front; indeed things like these are a great comfort to us as many a time we don't have a chance to get anything. We are having some very nice weather here this long time which is very pleasant when you are always in the open. We are hoping to be home before long I think this can't last very much longer; the death toll on both sides is terrible. If the Turkish lot was forced, I think it would put a near end on this; it would allow us to draw forces from there to here. I think all of us do not want to stop another winter out here. I will close, hoping we all come victorious.'
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 31st July 1915: The Lynn-Johnston Controversy
The Lynn-Johnston controversy in this paper on the question of German cruelties seems to have aroused the liveliest interest in the trenches, and we have today received the following letter from another artillery man at the front with the 43rd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, 12th Brigade, 6th Division:-
‘Referring to Corporal Johnston’s contradictions of Driver Lynn’s letter in your paper, which has come to my notice, I must say that he knows very little, and has seen very little of the barbarous crimes of the Huns. Perhaps if he had been the great retreat he would have had his eyes opened, when often we took up on our limbers and wagons infantry stragglers, completely done up and afraid to lie down, well knowing the fate that had befallen some of their comrades. The Germans were pretty close on our heels in those days, and were out for any sort of crime. They did not hesitate to bayonet or shoot such of our men as were left behind to their fate. I could give him several other cases, but it best to reserve them for future occasion if necessary. As regards ‘No Man’s Land’ which he speaks of, I think if he had been in our vicinity during some of the gas attacks, he would have seen plenty of the Hun’s crimes. When the Canadian troops had to fall back there were, I am sorry to say, many left behind, and some of their bodies are still there at the present time of writing owing to the difficulty of getting them in to bury. As regards infantry men being the only ones to see this sort of thing, I say again he is mistaken. I myself, as a signaler and telephonist, and also our observers, have been in the front line of trenches every week since the beginning, and but for our guns the infantry would have soon had to retire.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 31st July 1915: Driver Lynn Replies
Driver R Lynn, of the 87th Battery, writing to his people at Coalisland, on 24th July says:-
‘I am quite well and in the best of form. I saw the ‘Dungannon News’ where Corporal Johnston, of the Inniskilling Fusiliers, of Dungannon, had such great faith in the Germans method with prisoners. He seems to know all about it. Does he know what the Germans did at the beginning of the war when they were flushed with their victories before November and December? They captured a few of our chaps and couldn’t send them back, so they shot them out of hand and then ran like cowards. A little incident during the fighting at Aisne does away with all ideas of the Germans. During a lull in the fighting the Prussians were opposed in the trenches by a certain Yorkshire regiment. The Germans took up a white flag, but our fellows took no notice. Two or three times the Germans put the flag up, and the officer commanding at last told the Yorks to stand up in the trench. They had no sooner shown themselves to the Germans than they were shot down like sheep. There have been several instances when a regiment of infantry, seeing themselves outnumbered and beaten, have surrendered, thinking they would be taken prisoners, but as soon as the enemy have got near them, they have shot them down. Another incident I add to German cruelty is of a young fellow of a certain regiment out here. When his regiment had to retire out of the first line of trench temporarily, he stuck to the trench. The Germans had sent gas out and he said his respirator was good, and that he would stop on. When his regiment counter attacked and regained the trench, they found the plucky lad with no fewer than eighteen bayonet wounds in his body. We are not allowed to express things as we would like, especially when a fellow soldier starts contradicting one of us who has come through the thick of the fighting since last August and, thank God, is still alive and well’
Driver Robert Lynn was serving with the 87th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery when he died in Ypres, Belgium on 6th August 1915, aged 30.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 12th August 1915
Official intimation has been received by his parents in Coalisland that Driver Robert Lynn, 87th Battery Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action in Flanders on 4th August. He had gone out to France with the First Expeditionary Force, and was one of four brothers serving at the front.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 14th August 1915: Driver Robert Lynn
The parents of Driver Robert Lynn, 87th Battery Royal Field Artillery, who resides at Mousetown, Coalisland, have received official intimation that he was killed in action in France on 4th August. Driver Lynn, who was one of four brothers serving at the Western front., had gone out with the first expeditionary force, and had participated in all the principal engagements. His interesting letters have frequently appeared in these columns.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 19th August 1915
The parents of Driver Robert Lynn, 87th Battery Royal Field Artillery, who was a native of Coalisland, have received official intimation that he was killed in action in France on 4th inst. Driver Lynn was one of four brothers serving on the Western front.
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.
Driver Robert Lynn is buried grave in Hop Store Cemetery, Belgium. Hop Store Cemetery is located five kilometres west of Ypres town centre.
Driver Robert Lynn was one of four brothers who died on service; two are buried in Belgium, one in France and the fourth in Israel.
The photo shows the parents of the Lynn brothers, with all four sets of medals.
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.
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.’
Driver Robert Lynn is commemorated locally on Dungannon War Memorial.
Robert Lynn is also commemorated on the Portadown War Memorial.
The CWGC record Driver Robert 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.