Royal Engineers, ‘G’ Company, Special Brigade, 7 October 1918
Synopsis of Civilian and Military Life
Charles Lyons was born in the third quarter of 1894 at Keresley, Warwickshire to William Lyons and his wife Emily. His father was a Groom and Horse Breaker, who died sometime between the 1901 and 1911 Census. Charles was baptised at Keresley, Warwickshire on 7 October 1894. In the 1911 Census his mother is shown as a Laundress, most likely to supplement the household income following the death of her husband and Charles is shown at this time as a Farm Labourer.
Very little has been able to be ascertained about his life, however, it is known that he enlisted at Coventry, Warwickshire sometime before September 1915 and was accepted into the Royal Field Artillery as Gunner No. 58404.
Due to the destruction of the Army Service Records it is unknown his exact movements but it is known that he crossed to France / Flanders on the 8 September 1915.
At some point while in France he was transferred to ‘G’ Special Company, Royal Engineers as a Driver, No. 192631, this Company was part of the Special Brigade of Royal Engineers, which had originally been set up to counteract the initial use by the Germans of Chlorine Gas at Zillebeke (near Ypres) on 22 April 1915, this was probably due to his experience in the artillery. This unit discharged gas via both Cylinders and Stokes Mortars, it also contained a Flame Thrower section. “G’ Special Company however was part of the 2nd Battalion of the Brigade and their method initially of deploying the gas was via cylinders.
At some point ‘G’ Company certainly moved to using ‘Livens Projectors’ (see below image) to disperse the gas as this is mentioned in the unit war diary which is available from March 1917. The Livens Projector was primarily a mortar designed for delivering gas bombs, and gas was first used operationally in the capture of Thiepval in September 1916.
On 7 October 1918, Charles who was an Acting 2nd Corporal by this time and was a part of his unit which was attached to the Canadian Corps, the 11th and 2nd Canadian Divisions and who were to inflict casualties upon the enemy garrison in Blecourt and valley to the North East. The Canadian Corps had on the 27th September 1918 taken another village and moved onto Blecourt which it had also taken but lost it in an enemy counter-attack. Zero hour was to be 0400 hours. 400 Livens Projectors were to be utilised in the attack using both C.G. (Phosgene) and N.C. (80% Chloropicrin plus 20% Stannic Chloride), these projectors were set up in relays firing banks of filled projectiles, however, about 0340 hours, 20 minutes prior to the attack, the enemy accurately shelled the projector positions and continued for 90 minutes knocking out several batteries and cutting the leads. This attack resulted in 2nd Lieutenant Manning being wounded, 1 Other Rank killed, 2 Other Ranks being wounded and 2 Other Ranks being wounded but remaining on duty. Had it not been for the shelter of a sunken road beside the batteries, the Officer Commanding ‘G’ Company believes that casualties would have been severe.
It is believed that during this incident, Charles was likely to be the O.R. (Other Rank) killed in the enemy artillery barrage.
He was later buried at Haynecourt British Cemetery, Nord, France.
His mother Emily was to be awarded the money from his estate and military pension.
Charles Lyons was born in the third quarter of 1894 at Keresley, Warwickshire. The following family information is taken from the 1901 and 1911 Census.
His family is shown as follows :-
- Father – William Lyons, born c.1867 at Rugeley, Staffordshire – Groom.
- Mother – Emily, born c.1866 at Keresley, Warwickshire – Laundress.
- Sister – Emily, born c.1891 at Keresley, Warwickshire.
- Brother – Walter, born c.1901 at Keresley, Warwickshire.
- Sister – Olive, born c.1904 at Keresley, Warwickshire.
- Brother – James Henry, born c.1908 at Keresley, Warwickshire.
The following addresses have been ascertained for Charles Lyons :-
- 1901 – 22 Keresley, Keresley, Warwickshire.
- 1911 – Lower Green, Keresley, Warwickshire.
- Following the death of Charles the mothers address was given as Hall Hill Lane, Keresley, Coventry in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records.
- His Pension Card has his mothers address following his death as ‘Ye Olde School House’, Arle, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Charles Lyons was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.
Charles Lyons is not specifically named but he is honoured and remembered on the St Thomas’ Church War Memorial, Tamworth Road, Keresley, Coventry.
Links to Additional Information
- Find a Grave website – Charles Lyons
- A Street Near You website – Charles Lyons
- Lives of the First World War – Charles Lyons
- Imperial War Museum – Livens Projector
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – St Thomas’ Church War Memorial, Tamworth Road, Keresley, Coventry.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Charles Lyons
- Medal Index Card.
- Medal Roll – Royal Engineers – Victory and British War Medals.
- 1901 Census.
- Find a Grave website.
- Pension Card.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- Church of England Baptisms.
- Register of Soldiers Effects.
- Vincent Stuart.