LYNN, John

Service Number: 6147
Enlisted: 8 November 1915, Perth, Western Australia
Last Rank: Sapper
Last Unit: 14th Field Company Engineers
Born: Bootle, Liverpool, England, 1 July 1892
Home Town: Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie/Boulder, Western Australia
Schooling: St James School, Bootle, Liverpool
Occupation: Electrician
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 30 October 1917, aged 25 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

8 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6147, Perth, Western Australia
20 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Sapper, SN 6147, 4th Field Company Engineers, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Sapper, SN 6147, 4th Field Company Engineers, HMAT Runic, Sydney
30 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sapper, SN 6147, 14th Field Company Engineers, Third Ypres

WW1 medal found and returned to closest family.

The account of Wayne Harper of Bunbury West Australia; relating to the Great War medal awarded posthumously to Mr John Lynn, Sapper, regimental number 6147.

As per RSL records, Mr John Lynn was killed in action at the Battle of Somme, France in 1917.

Upon his death, his sister Elizabeth applied for, and obtained the medals awarded to and deserved by him for his actions in WW1. These medals were issued posthumously to his sister.

In 1965, 48 years after Mr Lynn's passing, Rosemary Harper was a resident of Perth, Western Australia, at 35 Robann Way in Morley. At the time, this address was the last house on the left side of Robann Way, facing east. Beyond this house in the east direction was native bush, which eventually became an open park, as earmarked by the local council.

There was a track through the bush which Mrs Harper would push her baby stroller carrying her son Wayne around to the corner shop nearby. She noticed a medal on the side of the track, which she picked up and retained, and which turned out to be the Great War medal awarded to Mr John Lynn.

Mrs Harper tried to contact military authorities and give the details on the inscription on the side of the medal, detailing Mr Lynn's name, rank of Sapper and regimental number but without success, to locate the nearest next of kin in the hope to return the medal to family.

In 1977, Mrs Harper gave the medal to her son Wayne, as he was an avid stamp and coin collector. Wayne kept the medal for many years but he was always disturbed by the fact that it contained a lot of history and would be much more valuable if it could be returned to Mr Lynn's most immediate family.

In 2012, by this time Wayne Harper was running a business in Bunbury WA, as a ceramic tiler. He was doing kitchen renovation tiling works at Bunbury RSL in WA, and in conversation with local RSL members, mentioned the medal. He was asked to bring the medal in for perusal, which he did. He requested that, if possible, the medal be returned to the closest next of kin to Mr Lynn.

Through RSL records and Internet facilities, a lady member of the Bunbury RSL, Mrs Pat Murray was able to track down the great-niece of Mr Lynn, Mrs Barbara Mills, who lives in suburban Perth, WA.

The medal was sent to the Mandurah RSL where a member, dedicated to the task, re-ribboned the medal and placed it into a presentation case, to be given to Mrs Mills along with a history of Mr Lynn's involvement in WW1.

The details of the story were published in The Bunbury Mail, as per this link:

The account of Barbara Mills (nee Lynn) of Perth West Australia, great niece of Mr John Lynn:

Hi Wayne,

This is absolutely terrific and contains so much more detail than my notes. I would like to attach this story to my “Lynn Family Tree” on Ancestry, with your name given the credit for writing it if you have no objection. This way it becomes part of John Lynn’s Military History and will be around for many generations to come. It really is such an amazing series of coincidences and the medal is such a tactile piece of our Family History which would have been lost forever but for your Mum’s sharp eyes and your hobby of collecting stamps & coins.

Here is a little of John’s family history:

John Lynn was the youngest of three children born (1892) in Bootle, Liverpool England to John Lynn and Anne Fegan. In 1893, when John was only one year old, his father, who was a marine engineer, was killed (age 25) in an accident. His Mum struggled on with the three children but eventually married John Doyle in 1899. John Doyle & Anne had a son Peter in 1902 and he and John Lynn were not only half brothers but the very best of friends. However in 1909 Anne died and with her husband John Doyle being a seaman he was rarely home to take care of the children, so the two oldest Lynn children (Francis and Ceclia) came out to Australia to live with their Uncle (Frances Fegan). John stayed in England with his Uncle James Lynn to finish his electrical apprenticeship. Peter Doyle stayed in England and was brought up by his Doyle relatives so he and John maintained contact for a number of years before John came out to Australia in 1911 to join his brother and sister.

John Doyle enlisted in WW1 on 8 November, 1915. His first overseas posting was in January 1916. He ended up in France where he was wounded several times, the first being July 1916. He rejoined his unit in August. At the end of August he was granted two weeks leave and went to England. There he visited and spent quite a lot of time with his half-brother Peter Doyle. He rejoined his unit in mid September and was killed in action on the 2nd November 1917. During this time, his older brother Francis was in South Africa and unable to be contacted, therefore his sister, who was by now married to Peter Fitzpatrick and living in the Fremantle area, applied for his personal possessions and also for his medals. I believe his sister was incredibly close to him as for many years she continued to put notices in the paper in memory of his death, not only this, her first son, born in January, 1918 was named John Lynn Fitzpatrick. Cecilia Fitzpatrick died in 1961 and her husband Peter died in 1963. John Lynn Fitzpatrick died in 1998.

It would therefore have probably been in the early 1960’s that John Lynn Fitzpatrick would have inherited John’s set of medals.

When Francis Lynn returned from South Africa he had two children, the first in 1920 was Phyllis Lynn and my father Francis Lynn, was born in 1925. My father is still alive and he was the one that spotted the notice inserted in the newspaper by Patricia Murray. As it was known by the rest of the family that I was compiling the Family Tree and was in touch with Peter Doyle’s son, John Doyle (in England) who had already given us the photos and letters written by John Lynn, then it was left to me to follow up the advertisement with Patricia and of course the rest you know.

I have three brothers but only one nephew, Gregory Lynn so ultimately the medal and its history will be passed on to him. I did make contact with Cecelia’s grandson, Peter Fitzpatrick but he was unaware of Great Uncle John Lynn and his medals and was unable to tell me how or where the medals had ended up or if they were even still in the family. It was a disappointing lead as I thought Peter might have some knowledge of how the medals had gone astray as both he and his father were returned servicemen and I have a photograph of Peter Fitzpatrick with a chest full of medals. I have attached the photograph of Peter Fitzpatrick with his granddaughter Holly.

Attached you will find a photograph of John Lynn which was sent to me by John Doyle (England). Also attached is a photograph of the Lynn family at my Mum’s funeral in 2011. The family are, Francis , Barbara (Mills), Simon John, Andrew, my Dad Frank, and Andrew’s son Greg.

Once again, thank you so much for your kindness in returning the medal to our family, it has meant a great deal to me personally and my nephew Greg is looking forward to inheriting it. I have forwarded to him the suggestion that he should apply for the rest of John’s medals to make up the set. I don’t think the re-issued medals would be quite the same as holding the original, or the feeling and reliving the miracle of its chance finding and eventual return to the family. Patricia Murray was also a wonderful intermediary and I wrote and thanked her for her part in returning the medal, she did an extraordinary job in researching and then printing and compiling a complete dossier of John’s War Service records which will stay with the medal.

I am a great believer in “what is meant to be will be” and I think this episode in my life and the chance to be the guardian of a ‘magical’ piece of family history is a fine example of this. It is also a testament to the fact that there are still some wonderful human beings inhabiting this planet.

Thank you once again,

Barbara Mills (nee Lynn).

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

He was the son of John Lynn and Anne (nee Fagan) who were married at the same church on the 14th June 1886.

John Lynn was born at Bootle in 1892 and was baptised at St.James' R.C. Church, Bootle. His siblings Francis and Bridget were also baptised at St James in 1888 and 1890.


1891 Census  46 Browning Street, Bootle - Mother Annie Lynn (Married) with children Francis and Bridget. 
His father John died in 1893 and his mother re-married in 1899 to John Joseph Doyle. They had a son Peter Doyle in 1902.
1901 Census - 64 Clifford Street, Bootle - Stepfather John Doyle and Mother Annie with children Francis, Bridget and John (All shown as Doyle  although they are all children of Annie’s first marriage to John Lynn) 
1911 Census - 63 Boreland Street, Bootle - John Lynn junior was an electrician and was residing with his uncle James Lynn and his wife Mary. 
John  went to Australia aged 19. He was well known in Perth Kalgoorlie Association Football circles.  

His service records  show that John was 23 years and 7 months when he enlisted in Perth on the 29th October 1915. His address was 365 Hay Street, Perth.
He was 5ft 6 inches tall with a 35 inch chest, grey eyes and dark brown hair and was a Roman Catholic. He had worked for G A Smith at Liverpool for 5 years as an apprentice electrician.
John embarked at Sydney on H.M.A.T. A54 (Runic) on 20th January 1916, reaching Alexandria on the 27th February. He was taken on  strength on the 14th Field Company Australian Engineers at Tel-el-Kebir on the 22nd March. From the 28th April until the 1st May he was sick in hospital at Ferry Post.
He  embarked for Europe from Alexandria aboard  HMS Kinfauns Castle

on June 18th, disembarking at Marseilles, France on June 29th.
John was wounded in action on 20th July, suffering a minor gunshot wound to the left shoulder and was transferred to 101 Ambulance Train. He was discharged from hospital after just two days, and re-joined his unit from the Base Depot on 9th August. On  31st August he was granted a fortnight's leave to the U.K..
He was posted as missing, later confirmed as killed in action on October 30th 1917.
His next of kin was his brother Frank of Oraya Links Goldmine, Kalgoorlie. His sister Mrs C Fitzpatrick (Bridget Cecilia), born Bootle, was also living in Australia. Her address was Falcon Street, Naraogen, West Australia and later Montreal Street, Freemantle. She was the executor of John’s will with her brother Frank but upon John’s death Frank had been in South Africa for 5 years and Bridget Cecilia had lost contact with him.


John Lynn is commemorated on the following local memorials:
Bootle Civic Memorials
St.James' R.C. Church, Bootle