John Brunton Daykins VC MM

b. 26/03/1883 Hawick, Scotland. d. 24/01/1933 Edinburgh, Scotland.

John Brunton Daykins (1883-1933) was born on 26th March 1883 at Dodlands Cottage, on the road from Hawick to Bonchester, Scotland. He was the son of John and Bessie Daykins. The family were associated with the Orchard and Sunnyside farms, until moving to Howden near Jedburgh when he was about 5 years old.

John B Daykins VC MM

He enlisted in the Lothian and Border Horsemen and served in France and Greece during early WWI. He was promoted to Lance Sergeant, but succumbed to trench fever and was discharged after the Somme in 1916. He then re-enlisted in the Westminster Dragoons and transferred to the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment, where he was promoted to Corporal and Acting Sergeant. He was noted for bravery at Solosmes, where he took 25 prisoners and a machine-gun post single-handedly, for which he was later awarded the Victoria Cross. He was also awarded the Military Medal in November 1918.

On 20th October 1918 at Solesmes, France, Sergeant Daykins, with 12 remaining men of his platoon, rushed a machine-gun and during subsequent severe hand-to-hand fighting he himself disposed of many of the enemy and secured his objective. He then located another machine-gun which was holding up an operation of his company. Under heavy fire he worked his way alone to the post and shortly afterwards returned with 25 prisoners and an enemy machine-gun, which he mounted at his post. His magnificent fighting spirit and example inspired his men, saved many casualties and contributed largely to the success of the attack.

When John Daykins and his family came from Howden in a carriage he was met at the town boundary (of Jedburgh) by the Provost and Town Council, the horse was taken from its shafts and he was pulled in a procession by soldiers to the Town Hall. He received his Burgess Ticket in a silver mounted casket made from the wood of the Capon Tree. He was also presented with a silver tea set and canteen of cutlery from the people of Jedburgh.

The machine-guns that John captured at Solosmes were presented to the town of Jedburgh and mounted at the Castle Jail. There they stayed until they were removed in 1940 to be melted down for scrap metal during the Second World War.

John returned to farming at Howden and took over the tenancy of the farm on the death of his father in 1924. On 24th January, 1933, he was fatally wounded by his own gun as he searched the farm for a troublesome cat. In the dark he had tripped, and the gun had went off accidentally. He had recently been suffering from influenza and may still have been weakened by the illness. John died in an ambulance on the way to an Edinburgh hospital.

At a well attended funeral, John Brunton Daykins V.C., M.M., was laid to rest in Castlewood Cemetery, Jedburgh. His medals were presented to the Regimental Museum of the York and Lancaster Regiment in Rotherham by his sister.