PRIVATE FRANCIS THOMAS LIND
1ST JULY 1916 AGE 37
BURIED: Y RAVINE CEMETERY, SOMME, FRANCE
Private Francis Thomas Lind, much better known by his nickname 'Mayo' Lind, has an entry in the Canadian Dictionary of Biography based on the series of thirty-two good humoured, gossipy letters which he wrote whilst on active service and which were published in the St John's 'Daily News'.
In the letter dated 20 May 1915, Lind complained about English tobacco with the result that the makers of 'Mayo' tobacco launched an appeal for funds to send him tobacco that he could then distribute to his fellow Newfoundland soldiers. On 1 July 1915, 1,700 pounds of tobacco arrived at Stobs Camp near Edinburgh where Lind was in training; much to the amusement and one assumes pleasure of the rest of the camp. This is how he acquired his nickname.
The letters also explain how he acquired his inscription. After the war his letters were published by the editor of the Daily News as 'The Letters of Mayo Lind', "in memory of the cheerful soldier". As the Canadian Dictionary of Biography notes, after Lind's death "he became a symbol in Newfoundland of the soldier who could face discomfort and ultimately sacrifice, with good humour".
Lind went into action with the rest of the 798 members of the 1st Battalion at Beaumont Hamel on 1 July 1916. At the end of the day 710 of them had become casualties: 233 killed, 91 missing, all of the missing eventually to be pronounced dead.
Lind was among the missing. It was months before his family had any firm news and then on 3 November 1916 the headline, 'Frank Lind Dead', appeared in the 'Daily News'. The report stated that:
a returned soldier is sure he saw Frank Lind dead on the field on July 1st. He passed him going out and noticed he was doubled up as though he had been hit in the stomach. The same man was later wounded and in crawling back passed the same place again and is sure there was no doubt that it was Lind and that he was dead.
On 12 November Lind's brother wrote to the Colonial Secretary, (see Lind's file in the digitised records of the Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War) asking him if he would get in touch with the returned soldier, or let him have his name and address so he could make contact himself. I don't know what answer he got but on 23 November the Colonial Secretary wrote a letter to the families of all the missing Newfoundland soldiers telling them that "all these gallant men, whose names are given in the enclosed list, and one of whom was very dear to you, were killed in that fateful action on the 1st of July".
Lind's body was eventually recovered and, in a manner, identified. The full inscription on his headstone reads:
Of the great war
Royal Newfoundland Regt.
1st July 1916. age 37
How closely bravery
And modesty are entwined
Royal Newfoundland Regt.
Known unto God