LYON, Charles Hugh (1888-1917)
Charles Hugh Lyon was born at Hawksburn on 29 November 1888, the son of George Owen Lyon and Kate nee Hill of Glenogil, Harkaway, Victoria.
He was at Geelong College from 1901 until 1902, then returned from 1904 until 1906. He then went to Dookie Agricultural College for a year, after which he was made overseer of Dynevor Downs Station in Queensland, and in 1911 he took up land at Walebung in Western Australia, where he was working when he enlisted in the 8th Light Horse on 13 October 1914.
C H Lyon (War Service).
He embarked on HMAT A16 Star of Victoria
for Egypt and then for Gallipoli, where he served with C Squadron 3rd Anzac Battalion throughout the campaign. John Hamilton in his book, Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You
wrote: ‘Robinson’s ttroop sergeant, 25-year old Charles Lyon . . . . took over. ‘Just as we got into the front sap our troop officer was shot through the hand and retired,’ Sergeant Lyon later recounted. ‘I was left in charge and being unable to jam past the men jumped up and ran round to the front sap calling on them to follow but just as we got out, the line fell back nearly all wounded with orders to retire.’ Lyon was writing to the mother of L/Cpl Norm Tetley, another public school boy, from Melbourne Grammar. Tetley was one of the men who had ignored doctor’s advice. He insisted on rejoining the regiment for the charge, despite having been shaken up severely and his face peppered with gravel during a shell barrage six weeks before. Norm charged out with the first line of the 8th and was now another one of those lying dying. Lyon’s letter continued, ‘He was keen on being with his troop and couldn’t stand the idea of being left behind. As we dropped back into the sap I saw Norman lying just in front and with the assistance of others got him in and laid him on the bottom of the trench. His leg was in a fearful state; a machine gun had got onto him. Bearers were fearfully busy and we were in and out of the way and he had to lie there over two hours before it was possible to get him away. The loss of blood must have been very great.’
Lyon wrote further of The Nek: ‘Of three hundred and eighteen of our men that went out that morning, one hundred and fifty four were killed and eighty odd wounded. The Turks had thirty four machine guns playing on the narrow strip between the trenches. All but two of our officers that went out were killed including Lieutenant Colonel White, Major Redford and our Adjutant.’
After the Evacuation from Gallipoli, Lyon returned to Egypt where he transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps. He then served as a lieutenant in Palestine up to the time of his death on 7 November 1917 at Tel el Khuweilfe.
Lt Charles Lyon was buried at Beersheba War Cemetery, Egypt - Grave B.24.
A letter published in part in Pegasus of August 1918, from his batman, spoke volumes about him, ‘I can tell you the Section felt his loss very badly, and we kidded ourselves for having such a fine officer and gentleman. Mr Lyon was one of the whitest, and he was loved by all who knew him, and I never heard one man speak a bad word of him.’
His name is also commemorated on the Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, situated in the Victorian Embankment Gardens, London, sculpted by Major Cecil Brown, unveiled in 1921, and commemorating the 346 members of the Corps who died.Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp62-65 (citing Pegasus; H S Gullett, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18: Vol. VII Sinai and Palestine; John Hamilton, Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You : The fatal charge of the Light Horse, Gallipoli, August 7th 1915; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Australian War Memorial; Photo Pegasus August, 1918.)