Sapper 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.

Sapper. 1st Siege Company. Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers Service Number: 6544

Early life:

John was born in 1871 and his birth was registered in Bradford in the first quarter of the year.

In the 1881 census he was aged 11 and living at 13, Pitt Street in Keighley. H was an operative in a worsted mill, along with his mother Maria aged 32 and his brother James aged 13. Also living with them were his sisters Eliza Ann aged nine, Emma aged five; Kate aged three and brother Francis aged two.

In the 1891 census John was a wool comb maker aged 21 and living at 46, Eastwood Square in Keighley with his mother Maria aged 41. Also here was his brother James aged 23 and an iron forger; Eliza Ann aged 19 and a worsted reeler; Emma aged 17 and a worsted warper; Kate aged 14 and brother Francis aged 12 and a worsted spinner.

By the time of the 1901 census John had left home and was a 30 year old comb maker living at 64, Britannia Square in Keighley, with his younger brother Francis who was 23 and a tool fitter. Also visiting them was John Templeton, a 30 year old machine fitter.

We could not find a definite 1911 census record for John. We suspect Maria had already died because she is not part of any documentation for John's later life and the family may have gone their separate ways after her death. There is a 1911 census record for a John Quinn living at Hyde in Manchester and employed as a dock labourer but it's only a possibility.

War service:

John's attestation paper for six years General service. He enlisted with R.A.R.E. which was the Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers (Special Reserve)
He signed up for service at Hyde in East Manchester, on 19th March 1914. (this is a potential connection with the 1911 census record above, but it's no more than that.) He stated that he was 29 years and 310 days old and in civil life he was a bricklayer's labourer. His service number was 6544 and he held the rank of Sapper. He was posted to Depot Company at Beaumaris and had 12 weeks of recruit training from 3rd April to 25th June 1914 and trade training until 1st August 1914. He was then posted to the Siege Battalion having mobilised on 5th August 1914 as a Sapper.

Sapper John Quinn entered France on 3rd November 1914, making him an 'Old Contemptible.' His service number was given as 396544 with the 1st Siege Company, Royal Anglesey Royal Engineers but he has the initial T. It states he was killed in action on 22nd January 1915, so we are sure he is the same man.
A second medal roll confirms his entitlement to the British War Medal and Victory Medal

John's Army service records are incomplete, with just eight documents in total. They contain very little information about him:

A letter dated 3rd May 1915 asks if a medical history of Sapper Quinn was in the possession of the Royal Engineers Records office and if so, to please send it through. The reply was that a copy of duplicate records had been sent through on 11th March 1915.

A really useful piece of information comes in the form of a letter dated 9th February 1915, which was sent from the Royal Engineers Records Office, to John's sister Margaret Lovett at 10, Oastler Road, Worth Village in Keighley:
Madam. Special information has been received regarding the death and burial of your brother, the late 6554 Sapper J. Quinn, R.A.R.E. who was Killed in Action on 22-1-15.
He was buried on the South side of a house. Situated 700 yards south of the cross roads, ROUGE CROIX, on the East side of the LA BASSIE Road.
Signed for Colonel in charge, R.E. Records.

There is a slip for posting of the British War Medal and Victory Medal to Mrs. S. Flynn of 15, Oastler Street in Keighley. Dated 11th July 1922.

The letter above plus the CWGC concentration record which gives us a map reference for his original grave. It states the map reference of 36.M.27.d.7.6. there were at least four men buried at this spot. Their graves were exhumed and reburied at the Royal Irish Rifles Cemetery, Laventie in France on 24th November 1919. John was buried in grave 4, row H, plot III.

The map reference for his original grave is in square M 27.

The register of soldier's effects states John served under the alias 'Flynn' but we have found no evidence in his Army service records or medal records to suggest this was the case. At least one of his sisters does seem to have used the name.

John's remaining Army pay was sent to his siblings Maggie, Sarah, Francis and they each received the sum of £3 3s 10d on 13th July 1915. A war gratuity of £3 was paid on 16th September 1919, to Sarah who received £2 and Francis who received £1.

It's likely that Sarah received any personal effects plus the medals, bronze war memorial plaque and King's scroll inscribed with John's name.


John is named on his grave in France. He may be one of the two 'John Quinn' names on the St. Anne's Church war memorial, on North Street in Keighley.
However, there are three men with that name from Keighley who were killed in the war.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1881 England Census
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
British Army World War I Service Records, 1914-1920
National Library of Scotland mapping service
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
The Long, Long Trail website by Chris Baker.

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