Bro. Col Graham Thomson Lyall VC

1892 - 1941

 Bro. Graham Thomson Lyall VC

Graham Thomson Lyall was born in Chorlton, Manchester, on 8 March 1892, the son of Rev. Robert Henry Lyall and Agnes Lisette Wells of Darwen, Lancashire.  He was educated at Nelson Municipal Secondary School, and on leaving School studied mechanical engineering before emigrating to Canada in 1912. Settling initially in Welland, Ontario, he subsequently moved to Chippawa, where he was employed by the Canadian Niagara Power Company in Niagara Falls.  While in Canada he became a member of the Orange Institution, joining Enniskillen Loyal Orange Lodge Number 720 in St Catharines, Ontario.

Three days after the declaration of the First World War, Lyall joined the 19th "Lincoln" Regiment in St Catharines, Ontario. He was placed on Active Duty and posted to the Welland Canal Field Force which provided guards along the canal, at hydro electric facilities in the Niagara Peninsula, and at the international bridges to the United States.
Lyall served in the 19th Regiment until September 1915 when he was accepted by the 81st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, which recruited heavily in the Niagara area. He sailed for England with the battalion on 16 May 1916.
The 81st Battalion
was broken up in England and its men sent as reinforcements to battalions already in France. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles had suffered heavy casualties at Sanctuary Wood, Belgium, on 2 June 1916, and the next day only 76 out of 702 men answered the roll call. By the end of the month 350 men, Lyall amongst them, joined 4 CMR as reinforcements.
Lyall served with distinction during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916 and during the Battle of Arras, 1917. His leadership potential was recognised and he was sent to Officers' Training School at Bexhill-on-Sea. On the completion of his Officer training, Lieutenant Lyall was posted to the 102nd Battalion, C.E.F., which was part of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade and took part in the Ypres campaign in 1917 and the Battle of Amiens, 1918.
In September of 1918, the Canadian Corps was tasked to breach the Hindenburg Line on the Canal du Nord in a drive to capture Cambrai. The 102nd would pass through units of the 10th Brigade after they had secured the crossing of the canal and capture the southern flank of Bourlon Wood. It was during this operation that Lyall won the Victoria Cross.

The citation for his VC said: ‘On September 27th, 1918, when the leading company was halted near Boulon Wood by an enemy strong point Lt. G. T. Lyall executed a flank movement with his platoon and captured it together with prisoners and its guns. Later that day his much weakened platoon was held up by machine guns at the southern end of the wood. Lt. Lyall led forward his few remaining men, then rushed the position single-handed, killing the officer in charge, and took it with its machine guns, capturing numerous prisoners. Advancing, he secured his final objective and still more prisoners. On October 1st, near Blecourt, by skillful disposition of the weak company he then commanded, he overcame another strongly held position, seizing numerous guns and many prisoners. In these two days Lt. Lyall captured 3 officers, 182 other ranks, 26 machine guns and 1 field gun, and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. He showed throughout most conspicuous bravery, high powers of command, and skillful leadership’.
Bro. Graham Thomson Lyall Medals

King George V presented Lyall with his Victoria Cross on 15 March 1919 at Buckingham Palace. After the war, Lyall married Elizabeth Moffat Frew, and settled in Airdrie, where he became Managing Director of Aerocrete (Scotland) Limited, a building construction firm. ?He joined the Territorial Army, and in 1939 was a Major commanding the 3rd AA Division Workshop Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

On outbreak of the Second World War, he was placed on Active Duty and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, proceeding to North Africa in 1940.  In October 1941 he was promoted to Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer of the 87th Lines of Communications Sub Area of the 8th Army. 

  He died in his sleep of a heart attack on 28 November 1941 and is buried in the Halfaya Sollum Cemetery, located on the main coastal road from Mersa Matruh, eleven miles from the Libyan border.

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