Thomas Flawn VC

b. 22/12/1857 Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire. d. 19/01/1925 Plumstead, London.

Thomas Flawn (1857-1925) was born on 22nd December 1857 in Finedon, near Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire. He was the son a farm hand also called Thomas, and his wife Fanny. He was educated at the local Church school in Finedon, and enlisted on the 27th October 1876, in Leeds, into the 25th Regiment of Foot (later King’s Own Scottish Borderers). He then spent the next few years transferring between regiments. In 1877, when it looked like that there would be conflict with Russia, he transferred to the 108th Regiment of Foot, but as nothing duly happened, he quickly volunteered into the 26th Cameronians Regiment in order to be posted to South Africa for the Zulu War.

Thomas Flawn VC

Unfortunately, Thomas didn’t make it to South Africa, as General Steel, who was commanding the 26th at Aldershot, thought that too many young officers were going, and stopped the 26th. Flawn was determined to go and fight, so volunteered for the 94th Regiment of Foot (later Connaught Rangers) and managed to go to South Africa for the latter stages of the Zulu War. Then, under the command of Sir Garnet Wolseley, he remained there to take part in the Sekukuni Campaign, where he would be awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 28th November 1879, during the attack on Sekukuni’s Town, South Africa, Lieutenant Dewar of the 1st Dragoon Guards was hit and badly wounded. When Dewar was hit, he had only Privates Thomas Flawn and Francis Fitzpatrick, and six men of the Native Contingent with him. He was incapable due to his wounds of moving without assistance so the natives tried to carry him down the hill. Suddenly, around 30 of the enemy appeared in pursuit, which caused the men of the Native Contingent to desert and run off. Dewar was therefore abandoned and would have undoubtedly been killed if it had not been for the actions of Flawn and Fitzpatrick, who alternated in carrying Dewar, one covering the retreat and firing on the enemy.

Flawn was gazetted for the VC on 23rd February 1880, and was presented with his medal alongside Fitzpatrick on 17th September 1880 in the Transvaal by Lieutenant-Colonel P R Anstruther-Lydenburg. He remained in South Africa for the First Boer War of 1881, before returning to England in 1882. He decided to leave the Army, and married the daughter of William Barley though sadly she died young, and he remarried to the daughter of Richard Oakley, who hailed from Eversholt, Northamptonshire. Flawn lived to the age of 67, dying on 19th January 1925, in Plumstead, London. He was buried in Plumstead Cemetery. Flawn’s medals came up for sale at Sotheby’s in London in November 1999, and were sold for a hammer price of £70,000. The buyer’s identity is unknown.






Kevin Brazier – Plumstead Cemetery Map.

Steve Davies – Image of the Flawn VC headstone following its cleaning in 2021.