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Monday, 21 January 2013

Lyness, William James




An article based on this biography appeared in the Ulster Star.

Captain William James Lyness MC and 2 Bars, Croix de Guerre
was the son of William John Lyness and Frances Mary Lyness.

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 17th September 1917 records his 1st citation as:


T./2nd Lt. William James Lyness, K. Ir. Rif.

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when clearing a wood with his platoon.  In spite of the! very strong resistance which he met, his dispositions and leadership were excellent, and after heavy fighting at various points he captured a large number of prisoners and guns of various calibre. His splendid gallantry and coolness proved invaluable as an example to his men."



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 19th October 1917 reports:





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:


T./Lt. (A./Capt.) William James Lyness, M.C.; 12th Bn., R. Ir. Rif.

"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

forward again, engaged the strong point, firing eleven magazines, killing the majority of the enemy, and capturing a machine gun.  He then led the flank forward about 500 yards and straightened out the line.  The man with him was killed and he was wounded.  He showed great gallantry and determination.

(M.C. gazetted 17th September, 1917.)  (1st Bar -gazetted 18th October, 1917.)




The Belfast News Letter of 31st January 1919 reports:




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."



 













On 30th July 2014, I met with Richard Lyness of Messrs R & J Lyness.  Richard is the nephew of Jimmy Lyness.  Richard told me that Jimmy returned to banking after the war but may have changed banks from the Belfast Banking Company to the Royal Bank of Ireland.  He retired as an inspector.

Richard also advised that the medal group and other military gear was presented to the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum in Waring Street, Belfast.

A visit to that location on the same date found the medal group to be displayed in a cabinet on their wall. My thanks go to them for allowing me to take the photograph of the medal group.
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