Thomas Flynn VC

b. 22/12/1839 Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland. d. 10/08/1892 Athlone, Ireland.

Thomas Flynn (1839-1892) was born and baptised on 22nd December 1839 in Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland, the son of Patrick and Eleanor Flynn (nee Kenny)

Thomas Flynn VC

The 18 year-old Flynn was made a drummer on 17th July 1857  and was part of Sir Colin Campbell’s large force formed to relieve the British besieged in the Residency at Lucknow, then found himself a member of Windham’s force left behind in Cawnpore.

On 28th November 1857, the rebels opened fire with their 40 guns and one particular battery was causing much damage. The 64th were ordered to take and destroy the battery. It was positioned at a distance of 1,000 yards up a steep ravine. Led by Major Thomas Stirling, 170 men, including Flynn, went forward. Following Lieutenant Standish de Courcey O’Grady, Drummer Flynn raced for the enemy battery and, despite being wounded, engaged two rebel gunners in hand-to-hand combat. The rebels abandoned their guns and retreated. They soon re-grouped and counter-attacked in large numbers forcing the 64th back to the entrenchment.

Later that day, Campbell’s main force arrived and the rebels were forced back. For his conduct, Drummer Flynn’s name was recommended for the VC but under the misspelling of “Flinn”. The award was granted though the spelling error was not corrected, and it appeared in the London Gazette on 12th April 1859. He received his medal in 1860 in Brigadier Hall, Karachi, from Brigadier-General John Hall. This seems to be the pinnacle of his service as he later spent 14 periods of detention for various misdemeanours totalling nearly 600 days. When he arrived back in England in 1861, there followed a period of detention most likely on the Isle of Wight. He finally took his discharge in 1869 and it is believed he returned to Ireland. 

On 6th October 1880, Thomas married Mary Hardiman in St Mary’s Parish Church in Athlone. By the early 1890s, life in Ireland had become extremely hard and his plight was even raised in Parliament in April 1892 by his local MP, Donal Sullivan. Sadly, the pleas for help for Flynn were not to succeed, as Flynn died in the Athlone Workhouse on 10th August 1892 aged 52. Thomas was then buried in a common grave in Cornamagh Cemetery, Athlone. The grave remained unmarked until a memorial stone was erected in 2008. His medals are not publicly held.