James Benedict Flynn was born on 12 February 1891 Manchester NH, son of Patrick and Margaret Flynn. James had siblings, Stephen, Frank and Phillip. He grew up in that place, attending the local schools. By 1917 he had moved to Nashua, New Hampshire where he was employed at a pool room at 203 Main Street. In 1918 he had moved to 72C Walnut Street.
In September of 1917 he was in the third contingent, made up of 32 men, who were “called up” by the local exemption board, and would be leaving for Ayer MA. He was “second in command” when he and the others left on the train. He was serving in Co. C of the 328th Infantry when he was killed in action on 15 October 1918, and buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, France. But there is more to his story.
According to the following newspaper reports, while he was in military training, he married Eva Leazotte/Lizotte, daughter of Francis & Alphonsine (Ouellette) Lizotte. Eva remained a widow for several years after his death. She married 2d) 19 April 1927 to Albert Landy, son of Narcisse & Philomene (Laprisse) Lizotte, in Nasha NH. It is through her that history knows more of what happened to James Flynn. The newspapers tell his story.
–Wounded and recovered–
August 6, 1918, Nashua Telegraph: “Mrs. Eva Leazott Flynn, wife of Pvt James B. Flynn, 72 C Walnut Street, and a widely known Nashua young man received a card from him this morning announcing that he was in a hospital as the result of injuries, but that he expected to be out again. The card came coincident, with a letter from her husband, which had been written the day before telling of his going into the front line trenches. Mr.
and Mrs. Flynn were married while he was in training at a southern cantonment last winter.”
–A Story of Heroic Bravery–
Feb 4, 1919, Nashua Telegraph: PVT FLYNN MET DEATH FROM SHELL. Widowed Bride Receives Letter From Comrade. Pvt James B. Flynn of this city, one of Nashua’s most widely known young men who gave their lives for their country in battle Over There, died a hero. In a letter received by his widow, which the Telegraph has been given permission to publish, from Sgt. R.J. Bush Hdqrs., 328 Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces, the details of his death are told. The letter follows.
Argillieres, France, December 15, 1918
My dear Friend Eva.
It was today right after I had come home from mass in a little old French church in the above named town, and a most beautiful day at that, that I received a letter from my darling wife, telling me of the unlooked for and shocking telegram you received from Washington on November 21, 1918, and want to say that it is with deepest regret and profound sorrow, and with a feeling that pierces my heart as though it be struck by an arrow, that I have to confirm that telegram and tell you of the meeting of death by your ardent and beloved hubby, which occurred on the 15th day of October 1918 while our regiment was in one of the fiercest of fights ever known to the world in the wilds of the Argonne Forest on the Verdun Front. It marked the loss of the best and closest of buddies I have ever had, and while I want to beg pardon of yo for not writing sooner, I must confess that I did not have the heart to do so, especially so as I could not possibly forget what had happened which alone prevented me entirely from collecting my wits in order to write yo as I should ok. Pokey was a man, every inch of him, never shuttered at a command, and whether he thought he ought to have done it or not, he went to it like a soldier and did it perfectly. There is not a man in the regiment but that he was well known to Pokey and each and every one of them always had a kind word for him. He was always a cheerful chap to be around, and made life a happy one for us fellows over here. He and I had been separated time and time again, but I always made it my business to walk for miles to see him at the very first opportunity presenting itself, and always we had a heart to heart ‘talk’ about our wives back home, who were awaiting patiently for our homecoming. Some how or another though [section unreadable].
The last I saw of him alive was before we started our last attack, and while both he and I were a bit weary on account of the hard living and laying around in the rain and mud, we figured it was for a good cause and never flinched. It was on the 6th of October that we went into battle, and I was delegated by our Captain to go along and report casualties and to always remain close enough to the boys to help them out as much as possible, and made it my business to keep right around Pokey at all times; we went on and on and on, our regiment capturing town after town, and fighting like demons until we reached the town of Sommerance, France, when we reached our objective. We rest for a day or two, and got orders to clear out some machine nests around the clumps of bushes on a few hills off in the distance, and Pokey was, with some of his gang, delegated to pick off as many Germans as possible in order that we could attack the next morning. I saw Pokey and the rest go over and I saw some of our boys followed. The Germans pt up an awful artillery barrage, and Pokey found shelter in a shell hole, after I myself saw Pokey and the rest clean out three machine gun crews, amounting to some 20 odd Germans; while awaiting there I saw a shell light right amongst Pokey and the rest of the boys, and saw everyone one drop. I started out together with some other boys, but the Captain would not let us go, as it was time for our barrage to go over and we were to follow in a few minutes, so marked the place in my mind as much as possible, and when we went over I followed but could not find anything of the boys there. We kept going and going, and in the morning, after we made our objective again, I got permission to go back, and in a downpour and soaked to the skin. I found all the boys laying in the same shell hole, cold corpses. Two of the boys were almost blown to pieces and the others seemed to have died from wounds and as for Pokey he did not even have a scratch on his body. The surgeon later pronounced his death as being from the concussion of the shell on account of its haven fallen so close to him. It surely was a shame, Eva, and you have my heartiest sympathy to have lost the one whom you loved so well, and I want to say that Pokey when he died was just as pure as the day he gave yo that last and sweet kiss. He thought the world and all of you Eva and never hesitated a bit to tell any one about it. After finding Pokey I went after Chaplain Gearhardt, who is a priest, and he gave Pokey a very nice burial, and while I do not know the number of his grave, I can safely tell you that he is buried in Sommerance, France, along with many others of his comrades. His grave is marked with a wooden cross with one of his identification tags on it, and will be well taken care of until they transport the remains to America some day in the near future. The ground where he is buried is just a plain ordinary graveyard full of American doughboys.
Eva, again I want to say I am very very sorry and certainly don’t know how to express my feelings for you, and really it is beyond me, to do so. We all must die some day, but none of us known when that day will be at hand. This war could not be fought without some dying for their country, and it is just very fortunate that Pokey had to be one of those chosen, but Eva you can be proud to say and tell anyone, that Pokey died a hero, every inch of him was filled with gameness, and he got many a Boche before they got him. Nothing could scare him and he went forward toward Germany at every command given by his superiors. It was a great battle that he fought in and it is a miracle, I say, that there is one of us left, as surely I cannot see how we pulled through, but guess our time had not come and Pokey’s had, and while it is a very hard thing to forget, we all know we cannot bring him back to life, so let us resolve to live the rest of our lives in being with God at all times. We have fought for justice, purity, and as the Chaplain said today, for the love of holy things, and we must try to brave it off as best we can and hope to see Pokey one of these days in the hereafter. He is now in a doze that is most peaceful one, he is resting at ease and with the angels in Heaven. Eva please try and make life as cheerful as you can, although I know how heartbroken you are. It is impossible to bring him back, so brave it off, and here’s hoping we all shall meet him in Heaven. I hope to be home soon and shall be very much pleased to have you come to see us and answer each and every question you ask in fact will be pleased to do so. [most of remainder is illegible].
–Official notice arrives many months after his death–
Wednesday, August 27, 1919. Nashua Telegraph. Mrs. James B. Flynn, 72C Walnut Street, has recently received from the war department at Washington through the office of the adjutant general, official notice of the death of Pvt. James B. Flynn, who was killed in action October 15, 1918. She also received this week from General Pershing a citation of Private Flynn for distinguished service in which he died. Private Flynn was a member of Co. C., 328th infantry.
Corporal James B. Flynn (the rank of Corporal on his grave) was buried at Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. I do not know how Eva fared beyond her remarriage 8 years later.
SEE New Hampshire WWI Military: The Heroes of Nashua for a listing of all military who died from the city of Nashua.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].