All deaths are sad; deaths during the World Wars are tragic. But one death, commemorated in stark terms on a small gravestone in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Barnsley, stands out.
The stone, in a quiet, peaceful area in a small, pretty Cotswold village, commemorates the life of Captain Wynne Parr Lynes, who died just a month after his 43rd birthday.
It states that Captain Lynes died on 14 October 1916, ‘after being prisoner of war in Germany for two years’.
Wynne Parr Lynes was born on 4 September 1873 in Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, the eldest son of Samuel Parr Lynes and his wife Florence, nee Akroyd.
The Lynes family were very respectable members of English society. Wynne’s grandfather, John, was a clergyman who the 1841 census records as living at Hatton Parsonage in Warwickshire.
Samuel, Wynne’s father, had been earmarked for a military career from an early age, and in 1851, aged 12, he was studying at Ordnance House in Carshalton, Surrey. Ten years later, he was a Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery, and was visiting Sir Henry Dryden, an eccentric baronet known as The Antiquary, at his home – Canons Ashby, now a National Trust property. By 1901, he was a Colonel, living in Onslow Gardens in Kensington, London.
Wynne followed in his father’s footsteps, and like his father – listed in the 1911 census as being ‘now abroad’ whilst his wife remained at Onslow Gardens – travelled both the country and the world. In 1881, seven year old Wynne was recorded in the census as staying at his paternal grandmother’s house in Chester, together with his mother and younger brother Hubert. Herbert, although only a year his brother’s junior, was born in Woolwich, London; their sister Beatrice was born in Chester.
Wynne joined the army in 1894, being listed as a lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in October of that year. Between 1899 and 1902, he served in South Africa during the Second Boer War – also known as the South African War – serving with the Mounted Infantry in battles at Laing’s Nek and Lydenburg.
But in 1906, Captain Lynes retired from the army, and five years later, he was trying a new, more peaceful, occupation. He was settled at Ravenstone House in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, where he was a dairy farmer. He was also married – to Violet Ethel Wykeham-Musgrave, 13 years his junior and known as Ethel. Ethel was born in Thame, Oxfordshire, but her family owned Barnsley Park, being listed as residents at various points between 1841 and 1911. On Violet’s marriage to Wynne, her mother presented her at court, to King Edward VIII and Queen Alexandra.
The Lynes’ period of peaceful rural life was shattered when war broke out in July 1914. Captain Lynes, who had remained on the army’s Special Reserve, rejoined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and went into service. But in November, he was reported missing, and then confirmed to be a prisoner of war.
After two years, he appears to have been sent back to England – but he died in October 1916 at the Queen Alexandra Hospital on Millbank in Westminster.
The stone marking Wynne’s last resting place was placed there by his wife of seven years, Ethel, who died in Gloucestershire in 1968. Both Wynne’s parents outlived their son; Samuel died in Onslow Gardens in 1919, aged 80, and Florence, died in the same place seven years later, aged 79.
Details of the life of the Lynes family taken from The Genealogist, Ancestry, and entries in The Times, including Wynne Parr Lynes’ entry in the newspaper’s list of fallen officers on 16 October 1916.