He was known as Jimmy.
In 1901 the family lived in house 15, Tullyard, Moira, Co. Down.
On 28th September 1912, members of Lyness' family, Isaac, James and Thomas signed the Ulster Covenant at the Moira Demense and Market House.
Lyness served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and attained the rank of Temporary Lieutenant (1916), Captain and Adjutant (1918).
The Belfast News Letter of 20th January 1917 reports:
He embarked for France on 19th March 1917 and as part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, saw action at Messines, Langemak, Cambrai and the Somme (1918).
The Belfast Banking Company 'Roll of Honour' booklet details Lyness as serving with the Royal Irish Rifles and taht he had been awarded 'military honours' with his last known address as 'in France'.
The Belfast News Letter of 1st August 1917 reports:
The Belfast News Letter of 19th August 1917 reports:
The London Gazette of 18th October 1917 records Lyness as being awarded a bar to his Military Cross with the citation to this 2nd award being published on 7th March 1919:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When visiting his outpost line he was fired on by the enemy at forty yards range, whereupon he obtained a Lewis gun, stood up in full view of the enemy and fired it from his shoulder until it jammed. He then rushed the enemy post with two bombers, and cleared them out. He had already led a successful attack on the two preceding nights, and it was entirely due to his initiative and personal courage, in spite of three days without sleep, that his posts were established and our position made secure.”
The Belfast News Letter of 9th March 1918 reports:
The Belfast News Letter of 13th September 1918 reports:
The Belfast News Letter of 8th October 1918 reports:
The London Gazette of 10th January 1919 records a 3rd citation as:
"When the right flank of the brigade war held up he went forward to reconnoitre and unexpectedly met with a nest of machine guns and about fifty of the enemy, who opened very heavy fire. With great difficulty he made his way back, got a Lewis gun and a man with a supply of magazines and went
(M.C. gazetted 17th September, 1917.) (1st Bar -gazetted 18th October, 1917.)
The London Gazette of 19th June 1919 records Lyness as being awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
Lyness was demobilised with effect from 28th March 1919. The London Gazette describes it as 'relinguishes the acting rank of Captain on ceasing to be employed'. A further entry in the London Gazette states 'Temp. Lt. W. J. Lyness, M.C. relinquishes his commission on completion of service, 6th November 1920, and is granted the rank of Captain.
Lyness worked in the College Green, Dublin branch of the Belfast Banking Company prior to the war.
The Lisburn Standard of 13th September 1918 records:"Captain and Adjutant W. J. Lyness, M.C.. Royal Irish Rifles, wounded, is a son of Mr. W. J. Lyness, Tullyard House, Moira, and nephew of Mr. R. Logan, Belfast Bank, Bangor. Before the war Captain Lyness was on the Belfast Bank's Dublin staff. He was a cadet in Colonel Shannon-Crawford's battalion prior to receiving his commission. Captain Lyness, who has been adjutant of his battalion since 22nd March, has a fine record of service, having won both the Military Cross and a bar thereto.
His brother, Lieut. I. Lyness, of the Tank Corps, also holds the Military Cross. Captain Lyness has been wounded in the shoulder by a bullet, but his injury is not serious."