William James Cecil Lyons was born in 1888, the eldest son of William James Lyons and his wife Jessie. William – or ‘Cecil’ as he became known – worked as a station hand on the family property at Euchareena. He enlisted in WWI in January 1915 and embarked for overseas duty in April that year.
Private Lyons served in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcements for 4½ years. He was wounded twice during his service. Less than two months after arriving in Gallipoli he sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs and was hospitalised in Cairo. He was shot a second time in France in April 1917, this time in the shoulder, cheek and nose, and was transferred to the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford, England.
Cecil Lyons was one of 25 servicemen from the Orange area who served in the 3rd Battalion. On 18 September 1918 the 3rd Battalion was involved in the Battle of Warfusee in the Picardy region of France. It was here that they captured the German 77mm calibre Field Gun that is now on display in Cook Park in Orange. Lyons was on furlough in England at the time; he rejoined the Battalion on the 21st.
Cecil returned to Australia in May 1919. He was one of three soldiers who were greeted at the Orange railway station by the Model Band and “the largest crowd…for some time”. Ald. ET McNeilly, representing the Mayor, led the official party, which included representatives of the Returned Soldiers’ Club, the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the Digger Post.
Cecil settled near Bathurst, where he secured a soldier settlement block. He was a regular visitor to the Orange district, where he spent time with his many friends and family members. In 1940 Cecil enlisted in WWII. He died in March 1960 and is buried in the Anglican section of Wellington Cemetery. His headstone reads:
William Cecil Lyons
Poet, humourist, a man of great personality.
Erected by his brother, sisters and some more of his mates.
William James Cecil Lyons is commemorated on WWI Honour Roll at Euchareena Soldiers Memorial Hall.
Cecil’s youngest brother, George, also served in WWI; he was killed in action in France in March 1917.
Leader, 14 May 1919, p. 1.
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