George Lyons

Born in Wellington, NSW, in 1890, George Lyons was the second eldest son of William and Jessie Lyons.

George was working as a labourer and was a keen football and cricket player prior to his enlistment on 29 June 1915.

Private Lyons embarked for overseas service from Sydney on 30 September 1915. A member of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Reinforcement, he served initially in Egypt, before joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in France in June 1916.

During his service in Egypt George was hospitalised twice: in November 1915 with mumps, and in January 1916 with tonsillitis.

In February 1916 Private Lyons was transferred to the 55th Battalion and, on 27 July 1916, was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Lance Corporal Lyons was granted seventeen days leave of absence in December 1916; in January 1917 he attended a Lewis Gun school of instruction.

On 7 March 1917 the 55th Battalion was engaged east of Bapaume. The commanding officer noted in the unit diary:

Artillery activity fairly brisk on both sides. Needle Trench and Dump receiving a good deal of attention.

And on 8 March:

Weather conditions have been showering and dull for a few days past resulting in the mud being well in evidence again. Conditions as regards activity remain the same – Needle Dump receiving a good deal of attention.

On 9 March he reported that the “artillery again active on both sides”. It was on this day that George was killed in action near Needle Dump.

According to Red Cross informant Charlie Lees, George was in a group of three or four soldiers who were wounded or killed when a shell exploded close by, and George died instantly. He added that George “was about the favourite of his detachment and we were all very sorry. He was always called “Pud” – I hardly know why.”

George’s death notice in the Leader stated:

A good life, nobly ended.

George Lyons is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, the WWI Honour Roll at Euchareena Soldiers Memorial Hall, the Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph and on panel number 161 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Lan Cpl G Lyons”; it was donated by Canobolas Shire Councillor, Thomas Henry Oates. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

George’s brother, William James Cecil Lyons also served in WWI. William survived the war; he returned to Australia in May 1919.

On 9 March 2018 George Lyons was commemorated in the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

Footage of Australian soldiers entering Bapaume in March 1917

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This entry was posted on March 9th, 2018.