Matthew Lynn was born on January 9th, 1895 in Stevenston, near the Clyde Estuary on Scotland’s west coast. He was one of 8 children and could have been “Uncle Mat” to many nieces and nephews.
Matthew’s father James and his older brother William were employed as dynamite workers at Alfred Nobel’s British Dynamite Company factory in nearby Ardeer. Matthew did not follow in his family’s footsteps but instead sailed to Canada aboard RMS Hesperian shortly after turning 18. He arrived in Quebec City on May 18, 1913 and worked as a labourer in Beloeil, just outside Montreal. Less than three years later, on April 12th 1916, Matthew joined the 148th Battalion and was assigned Regimental number 842044.
The battalion arrived in England on Oct. 6th but in December over 250 men were drafted into other Battalions. 57 soldiers were taken on strength by the 14th Battalion (The Royal Montreal Regiment) and Matthew must have been one of them. He did not stay long however as he was soon attached to the No. 2 Tunnelling Company, Canadian Engineers (view a PDF of their complete War Diary, 23MB).
We can only guess as to why Matthew joined the sappers underground. Perhaps growing up in a mining community like Stevenston influenced his decision, or was it his family’s occupation that led him to help construct mines beneath enemy territory? Whatever the reason the behind his decision it would have fatal consequences.
On February 15th, 1917 Matthew Lynn died of suffocation when, according to the War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty) records, “… a fire broke out in one of the galleries of a mine at Mount Sorrel, near Ypres, about 10:40pm on February 14, 1917”. Matthew Lynn was buried in Maple Copse Cemetery, two miles SE of Ypres. The top of his headstone reads “Known to be buried in this Cemetery” indicating that the burial records were such that his exact resting place could not be located.
In Part 3 I’ll relate the story of Matthew Liddell from Durham, England.
[Update: read the latest on this mystery]