Second Lieutenant H Lyness

Second Lieutenant H Lyness

Another show of sorts last night, a tumult of guns 1:30 a.m. to 2.00 a.m. Bosche didn’t reply on us here, but gave the front line some, but didn’t do much damage. A boy called Lyness was hit by a stray bullet returning from wiring, and is in a critical condition. Keen, always did his job well, and capable. I grieve for his loss. Am going to How. [Howitzer] observation post after tea to have look at Bosche trenches. Had a slight chill yesterday, but am all right today. We are busy trying to repair huts here today, and the accommodation here is disgraceful, and I’m strafing all round. They’ll talk and plan and do nothing, and then the winter will be upon us. A Grave Committee bloke, ranking as a Lieut., came round today and was fearfully excited because some R.E. sapper was buried yesterday in the wrong cemetery. I handed him over to the Padre. A consequential Rev._____, who you might think was running the war, laying down the law about burials, etc. Clouding over, expect more rain.


1. Second Lieutenant Harold Lyness was one of the first of a new breed of officer to join the Battalion. From the summer of 1916 until the end of the war a significant proportion of the Battalion’s officers would be former soldiers. Lyness had enlisted into The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders); he was commissioned on 27 August 1915 and posted to 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers in Salonika. He joined 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 June 1916.  When bringing a wiring party home along Spring Trench to Red Lodge on the night of 31 August/1 September 1916, he suffered gunshot wounds to the back from which he did not recover. He died of wounds in 2nd Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul in the early hours of 2 September 1916, aged 20, and was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension.

2. The Graves Registration Commission was established by Fabian Ware, a former Director of Education in the South African colonies, a former newspaper editor, and a director of the mining company Rio Tinto. Initially formed as part of the British Red Cross operation in France and Flanders, under Wares direction the Commission passed to the control of General Headquarters in 1915 and in early 1916 it became the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries; its operations also expanded into other theatres of operation. Also in 1916 the National Committee for the Care of Soldiers’ Graves was appointed, which aimed to take over the work of the Commission after the war. The scale of the task facing the Committee led to the establishment by Royal Charter on 21 May 1917 of the Imperial War Graves Commission, which became the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1960. Today it is responsible for the commemoration of 1.7 million casualties of the two world wars in cemeteries and on memorials at more than 23,000 locations, in 154 countries.

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