Jedburgh set to honour VC war hero 100 years on

Jedburgh Royal British Legion Scotland branch chairman Shaun Carroll.
Jedburgh Royal British Legion Scotland branch chairman Shaun Carroll.

So highly regarded by the townsfolk of Jedburgh, was John Daykins that he was carried shoulder high from the burgh boundary to the town hall in 1919.

And on Saturday, exactly 100 years to the day since he was earned the Victoria Cross for his bravery during the First World War, the town will honour him once again.

He will be remembered at the unveiling of a commemorative flagstone at the town’s war memorial in Abbey Place, as part of the UK Government’s First World War centenary campaign, providing 469 commemorative paving stones at the birthplaces of the country’s Victoria Cross recipients.

Earlier this year the Jedburgh’s Royal British Legion branch launched an appeal to find any surviving family members in the hope they can be involved in the commemorations.

It succeeded thanks to London-based genealogist Melvyn Pack, who not only found Daykins’ relatives but traced his family tree back to 1778.

Shaun Carroll, branch chairman, said: “We know he had two brothers and a sister, but he didn’t have any children of his own.

“We are delighted that Daykins’ second cousin twice removed, Gillian Bonser from Leicester, has been found and will attend the ceremony with her son.

“Provost Harvey Oliver will unveil the plaque, 99 years after the former Provost Oliver awarded Daykins the freedom of the burgh- which is quite special.

“It promises to be a good event and a fitting way to celebrate Daykins’ bravery.”

Saturday’s parade will leave the glebe car park for the war memorial in Abbey Place at 10.40am. Rev Andrew Cooper, from the town’s St John’s Evangelist church, will lead the service jointly with Borders author Alistair Hutton.

Jedburgh’s instrumental and pipe bands will perform while Legion Scotland standard bearers will lead the parade which, after the unveiling, will proceed to the legion’s High Street branch.

Guests will include Major Pat Ralph, chairman of the Yorkshire Regiment Association, Colonel Geoffrey Norton, chairman of the York and Lancaster Regimental Association, and serving soldiers from the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry - formerly the Lothian and Borders Horse regiment.

Daykins was born on March, 28, 1883 at Ormiston Farm, near Bonchester Bridge, the eldest son of John and Bessie but was brought up in Jedburgh and schooled there from 1889 to 1896 before working on the farm with his father and uncle.

The town last honoured him on October, 20, 1919 when he was awarded the freedom of the burgh. Here, he said: “When I was told that the bit of work which I had got the chance to do for our country had been considered worthy of recognition, my first thought was ‘this will be something for Jedburgh.’”

Daykins’ died, having never married, in January 1933 after a shotgun accident at his farm. He is buried in the family plot at Castlewood Cemetery.

Read more about John Daykins here: https://www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/news/quest-launched-to-trace-jedburgh-war-hero-s-family-1-4698921