December 2011

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Colonel Graham Lyall have now been withdrawn from a long loan to the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers & REME Museum at Aborfield, England, and returned to a Lyall family descendant.

  • Medal entitlement of Colonel Graham Lyall,
    102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion
    ( North British Columbians ), CEF

  • Victoria Cross
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Africa Star
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George V Coronation Medal ( 1911 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )

On the wishes of the late Mrs. Lyall, the nephew of Colonel Graham Lyall VC has handed his uncle's Victoria Cross medal group on a long-term loan to the Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers & REME Museum of Technology based at Aborfield, Reading, Berkshire.

Colonel Lyall is one of those few servicemen who, after being awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War, died on active service in WWII.

Graham Thomson Lyall was born in Manchester and following his education joined the Royal Navy to study mechanical engineering. Unfortunately he contracted an ear infection whilst swimming which led to his discharge from the Navy. Lyall then emigrated to Canada, first settling in Welland, Ontario, then moving to Chippawa, where he took up employment with the Canadian Niagra Power Company.

Three days after the outbreak of war in 1914 Lyall was accepted into the 19th "Lincoln" Regiment in St. Cathrines, Ontario, and was placed on active service. Lyall continued to serve in the 19th Regiment whilst making sixteen applications to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in which he was finally successful by being accepted into the 81st Battalion, CEF. The Battalion sailed for England on 16th May 1916 and on arrival was broken up to replenish Canadian Battalions decimated by fighting. Lyall was posted to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles with whom he served with distinction receiving a battlefield commission for his performance following the capture of Vimy Ridge in 1917. After successfully passing-out from Officers' Training School in England, Lyall was posted to the 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion ( North British Columbians ), CEF, in France.

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 14th December 1918 ]. Bourlon Wood and Blecourt, France, 27th September 1918, Lieutenant Graham Thomson Lyall, 102nd Canadian Infantry Battalion ( North British Columbians ), CEF.

Whilst leading his platoon against Bourlon Wood he rendered invaluable support to the leading company which was held up by an enemy strong point, which Lyall captured by a flanking movement, together with thirteen prisoners, one field gun and four machine-guns. Later on, his platoon being much weakened by casualties, was held up by machine-guns at the southern end of Bourlon Wood. Collecting those men available, Lyall led them towards another enemy strong point and springing forward alone rushed the position single-handed killing the German officer in charge and subsequently capturing forty-five prisoners and five machine-guns. Having made good his final objective with the capture of a further forty-seven prisoners, he consolidated his position and thus protected the remainder of the company.

On 1st October 1918, in the neighbourhood of Blecourt, when Lyall was in command of a weakened company, by skillful disposition he captured a strongly defended position which yielded eighty prisoners and seventeen machine-guns.

During the two days of operations, Lieutenant Lyall captured in all three officers, 182 other ranks, twenty-six machine-guns, and one field gun, exclusive of heavy casualties inflicted. He showed throughout the utmost valour and high powers of command.

Graham Lyall was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 15th March 1919.

At the end of the First World War, Lyall settled in Airdrie, Scotland, and eventually became Managing Director of Aerocrete (Scotland) Limited, a building construction company. During this period Lyall joined the Territorial Army and in 1939 was a Major commanding the 3rd AA Division Workshop Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 Lyall was placed on active service and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. On the 28th November 1941, as a full Colonel on the General Staff in North Africa, he died from heart failure during Operation Crusader in Egypt. Colonel Graham Lyall VC is buried in the Halfaya Sollum Cemetery, located on the coastal road from Mersa Matruh, near the Libyan Border.


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Iain Stewart, December 2011