The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man
Today is the 28th of July 2014. To the day, 100 years ago, World War 1 started. I sit here at my desk, mulling over this anniversary, and my mind is drawn to the many South African soldiers who served, who were wounded, who were maimed, who survived, and who died in this conflict.
I wonder – how many of the families of these young soldiers know of, or remember their sacrifice? Do they know their names and has anyone preserved the images of these men? I think that there is something quite awful that these soldiers should be forgotten. Which brings me to this commemorative post – only two days ago, while I was doing some online research, I came across a touching and remarkable photograph, taken shortly after the Battle of Delville Wood. The image records the moment that a grieving woman, bends over to gently lay a bunch of flowers on the sandy grave of a South African soldier killed at Delville Wood. At the head of the grave, a simple wooden cross is planted, bearing the initials and surname of one Private D.B.H. Fynn. In the background to the grave, the shell-blasted remains of trees can be seen, the earth bombed into craters and hummocks. The upturned earth the grave of numerous soldiers, recorded simply as ‘missing in action’. An accompanying officer stands at the head of the grave.
Those who have lost loved ones, will know of the emotional pain captured for perpetuity in this image.
Photograph, courtesy of Jack Alexander.
After some research this morning I ascertained that the soldier was Private Dudley Beresford Hoole Fynn, Regimental Number 1387, a volunteer in the 3rd South African Infantry, member of C Company, 9th Scottish Division. The woman in the image is the dead soldier’s sister, Mildred Atherstone Fynn. Mildred was a Nursing Sister in the Royal Red Cross and serving in France during the war. This allowed her to visit her brother’s grave.
Dudley was the son of West White Fynn and Elizabeth Fanny Fynn nee’ Dick, of Redlands, Dohne, Cape Province. Born 11th of August 1895 at Redlands, Stutterheim, Cape. Descendants of the 1820 Settlers to the Cape of Good Hope. He was ‘killed in action’ on the 16th of July 1916, aged a mere 20 years. Fynn’s remains were later moved to London Cemetery, Extension Longueval.
Here I have to pause, for not only did West and Elizabeth Fynn lose Dudley to the Great War, but two additional sons, namely Lance Corporal Hedley Sutcliffe Fynn who died on the 20th of September 1917 at Flanders, aged 26. Hedley had previously been wounded at Delville Wood. Also, 2nd Lieutenant Robert Charles Fynn who died 25th of March 1918 in the Great Battle of March, aged 30 years.
Of interest – Dudley Beresford Hoole Fynn is a member of the same Fynn family from whom Henry Francis Fynn, the well-known Natal and Durban Pioneer descends. Dudley’s grandfather William McDowell Fynn was the brother of Henry Francis Fynn 2.
I trust that a member of the Fynn family will be able to supply an image of Dudley to add to this commemorative post.
Graham Leslie McCallum
2nd Lt. Robert Charles Fynn