Apt memorial to Jedburgh war hero Sgt John Daykins

Jedburgh RBLS vice chairman Peter Higgins, Jeremy Stuehmeyer, David Thorp and branch chairman Shaun Carroll.
Jedburgh RBLS vice chairman Peter Higgins, Jeremy Stuehmeyer, David Thorp and branch chairman Shaun Carroll.

A painting of Jedburgh war hero Sgt John Daykins has been presented to the club’s Royal British Legion club by military artist David Thorp.

Sgt Daykins earned the highest military honour – the Victoria Cross – in 1917 in Solesmes, near Cambrai in France, by utilising his skills in hand-to-hand fighting, while under fire, to take 25 prisoners and an enemy machine gun.

David had heard of the story of and was so impressed he took it upon himself to make sure a worthy memorial of the soldier was put in place.

He came to the Borders, dressed in WWI uniform, to do a charity job with Brooke Animal Hospitals, and was asked to take part in a special parade for Sgt Daykins, and later got talking to members in ther bar.

He also later met members of the town’s pipe band when they visited Normandy, and the idea for the painting was born.

David, who normally takes commisions for his artworks, told us: “When I did the painting I had hoped that there may be a relative or two who may be able to accept a print from me, but from what I hear there do not appear to be any, which is a shame.

“The painting is set at a particular junction in the town of Solesmes Nord, and the battle took place near the church about 300 metres back.

“The wrecked building at the back is now part of the garden of a bungalow.”

On Saturday, September 21, David, dressed as a WW1 general, and his nephew Jeremy Stuehmeyer, presented the painting, again, dressed in period military costume.

Shaun Carroll, chairman at the legion and area chairman for the Lothian and Borders region, was delighted with the piece, which now hangs pride of place in the club.

He said: “It was a big surprise when David told us what he was doing, and the finished painting is beautiful.

“It really represents Daykins well.

“His story was passed down to me from the late George Miller and what a story it is.”