Corporal John Quinn

A white circle with a glove crossing it's fingers and the words: Made Possible with Heritage Fund.This man is a candidate for addition to Keighley's Supplementary Volume under the proposal to add further names in 2024, the centenary of the original roll of honour.
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Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.

Corporal. 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). Service Number: 522.

A poor quality newspaper image of a British Army soldier from the Great War. It shows his head and upper body and he is facing the camera.

Corporal John Quinn.

Early life:

John Quinn was born Cleator Moor in 1882 and his birth was registered at Whitehaven, Cumberland in the first quarter of the year. His parents were Michael Quinn and Alice Quinn née Rogan who were married there in 1875.

In the 1881 census they were living at 146, Bog Bowthorn Road in Cleator and have two daughters, Margaret aged five and Ann aged two. Michael was a collier. There are several large iron ore mines in this area, so it's possible he was working at one of them.

By the 1891 census and after John's birth, they were living at 5, Oglanby Terrace in Allhallows area of Fletchertown in Cumberland. This is about 25 miles away from Cleator Moor, in the direction of Carlisle.
Michael was 38 and still a coal miner. Alice is 36. In this census there is no mention of Margaret and Ann. Michael and Alice have three children, but they are John aged eight, Alice aged six and Elizabeth aged one. Michael was almost certainly working at the Allhallows Colliery about half a mile away and John with his sister Alice would have attended the Allhallows School just along the road. Fletchertown was built to accomodate the mine workers and their families. The Mealsgate community have a website.

By 1901 Michael and Alice had moved the family to Keighley. Michael is employed as a general labourer and they are living at 25, Thwaites Lane. These houses no longer exist and were next to Thwaites Bridge and the short lived Thwaites Railway Station, which was closed in 1909. John is now 18 and a labourer at a machine shop, Alice is 16 and a worsted weaver. Elizabeth is ten and at school, probably at what is now Strong Close Nursery School just a few streets away.

Michael died aged 48 in 1901 and his death was registered at Keighley in the third quarter of the year.

In the 1911 census they are living at 81, Gill Lane in Thwaites. Alice is the head of the household aged 60 and a widow. She said she'd been married for 30 years and had five children, one of whom had died although we don't know if this was Margaret or Ann. John is 28 and still single and employed as a borer for a textile machine manufacturer. Elizabeth is 18 and at home, with the 'infirmity' column in the census stating she was 'feeble minded.'

John's mother Alice Quinn died in 1913 aged 60. Her death was registered in Keighley in the second quarter of the year.

War service:

John was already serving with the local 6th Battalion West Riding Regiment before the war. According to the newspaper accounts he'd been a member for fifteen years which gives an enlistment with them in 1901 when he was 18.
John is named in the Keighley Town Clerk's 1914 enlistment records at Keighley Library.
I.D: 1838. Surname: Quinn. Forename: G. Address: 13 River Street. Rank: Cpl. Regiment:Duke of Wellingtons. Battalion: 6th. No.: 522. Company: D. Next of kin: Mother.

He is also named in Keighley's Gallant Sons, printed in the Bradford Daily Telegraph on 6th October 1915.
Name: Quinn. Address: 13, Rose Street. Regiment: WR (West Riding.)

John Quinn is named in the nominal roll of the 1/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment which is listed in the book, Craven's Part in the Great War.
He was part of the battalion which disembarked at Boulogne on 14th April 1915 and as far as we know, he served with them all the time until his death in December 1915.

War diary entry:

The battalion were situated in trenches to the North of Ypres. See the National Library of Scotland map: Squares B21, B22 and B23 for locations of farms mentioned below.

WO-95/2801/1. 1/6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. December 1915.
FARMS. Dec 1:
The 6th Battalion relived the 5th Battalion D of WRR in the trenches (F31-35)
The fth Battalion went into the FARMS. Companies occupied front line trenches. A Company F31, others in succession from the night. Relief complete 11 pm.
Wet and very dark night. Quiet night except for enemy machine gun activity. We threw 90 bombs during the night. Casualties nil. Relief carried out across country.
Our artillery heavily bombarded FARM 14 and FORTIN 17. Very little retaliation.
Fine in daytime but very wet at night. Night very dark. Wire put up by all companies. One of our machine guns from FARGATE fired at intervals during the night enfilading FARM 14 and railway beyond. Few bombs thrown in F 35. Our heavies shelled enemy trenches throughout the day, no retaliation.
5.10 pm: No 2758, Pte. Fitzsimmons, T. 'A' Company. Killed by rifle bullet. Head. Extreme left of F 32.*
12.5 pm. No. 542, Cpl. Quinn, J. 'D' Company. Killed by rifle bullet in head. Left bay of F 34.*
3.15. No. 2512, Pte. Ainsworth, O. 'C' Company. Wounded in neck by bullet.
Unknown. No. 3471, Healey, A. 'A' Company. Wound in thigh in F31. Cause unknown but not noticed until midday.
* Buried sheet 28 B 18.c.8.7. by Rev. Jenkyn.

The Keighley News dated December 11, 1915 pages 3 and 5.

Corporal John Quinn (32), 6th West Riding Regiment, of Worth Village, Keighley, has been killed in action on the western front. The news was conveyed to Mrs. J. Coates, of 13, Rose Street, Worth Village (Quinn'sister), by Second-Lieutenant F. Longden Smith, who, writing on December 2, said: "I am very sorry to have to write and tell you that your brother was killed at noon to-day by a rifle bullet in the head. The spot where he was killed is a part of the trench where the parapet is very low, and he evidently forgot this for a moment, and was sniped. He died a few minutes afterwards, and was never conscious. On behalf of the officers, N.C.O.'s and men, I wish to offer you my deepest sympathy in your great loss. We shall all miss him, as he was one of the old hands, and had been with us since the day of mobilisation." Corporal Quinn had been attached to the Keighley Territorials for about fifteen years, and had won many prizes for shooting, Before the war he was employed by the Keighley Gas and Oil Engine Company. He was a playing member of the Thwaites Football Club, and was well known in cycling circles, having won prizes in various races.

John had been buried after his death in what was to become Talana Farm Cemetery. This was immediately to the West of Talana Farm, which no longer exists. He is in grave 14 of row G in plot IV. Further along this row is 2758. Private Tom Fitzsimmons who was killed on the same day. Tom was an only son and lived at Station View in Silsden before the war.

Post war:

John's sister Alice Coates was his next of kin and received equal sums of money from John's outstanding Army pay along with John' other sister Margaret Asquith They each received £9 3s 5d on 7th March 1916 followed by a further payment of 19s 5d on 17th March 1916.
A war gratuity payment of £6 was also divided into two equal payments of £3 and paid to them on 2nd October 1919.
It's likely that Alice received John Quinn's personal effects as she is named on his Pension card. She appears to have applied for a dependants pension as there are two cards, but it's unclear if she received anything. She most likely received his personal effects and his service medals which were the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, plus a bronze Great War Memorial plaque and a King's scroll inscribed with his name.

In 1921 Alice Coates was living at 13, Rose Street with her husband John Coates and their daughter Evelyn. There is also a mention of her being in Victoria Hospital, perhaps as a casual patient at the time.
In the 1939 register she was 51 and living at 5, Aireworth Grove with her daughter Evelyn who would have been 30.
She died in 1953 aged 66, registered in the Worth Valley in the first quarter of the year.
John Coates died in 1925 aged 44, registered in Keighley in the last quarter of the year.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
1881 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007
1911 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
Keighley Town Clerk's Enlistments at Keighley Library
Keighley's Gallant Sons from Keighley Library archives
National Archives, 1/6th Battalion West Riding war diary - WO-95/2801/1
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
1921 Census Of England & Wales
1939 Register
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007

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