Personal info

  • Name: Graham Thomson LYALL
  • D.O.B: 8th Mar, 1892
  • D.O.A: 1st Oct, 1918
  • D.O.D: 28th Nov, 1941
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, 102nd Battalion (2nd Central Ontario Regiment), 4th Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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Battle of the Canal du Nord, France 27 September 1918

27 September 1918

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The First World War 1918 

Towards the end of September 1918, during the offensive against the Hindenburg Line, British positions west of Cambrai ran southwards along the west bank of the unfinished and partly waterless Canal du Nord through Moeuvres, traversing it, as had the Hindenburg Line, east of Demicourt and proceeded on to Havrincourt. In the Allied advance on 27 September 1918, the 1st and 4th Canadian Divisions were in the line north of Moeuvres. Crossing the Canal, they captured sections of the Marquion Line and moved against Bourlon Wood, the scene of heavy fighting the previous year. Lieutenant G F Kerr, 3rd Battalion 1st Central Ontario Regiment, distinguished himself by attacking a German position north of Bourlon Wood, near the Arras to Cambrai road. The 4th Division, which was to the south of the 1st, was involved in heavy fighting round Bourlon Wood. It was here that Lieutenants S L Honey and G T Lyall showed conspicuous bravery. In the following days 4th Division pressed on north-east and Honey’s Citation refers to his further gallantry on the 29th, while Lyall distinguished himself again on 1 October near Blécourt, just north of Cambrai. South of Moeuvres, the Guards Division was detailed to capture the high ground between Graincourt and Flesquières as far as Premy Chapel north-west of Marcoing. During the crossing of the Canal Acting Captain C H Frisby, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, led an attack on a German position under a ruined bridge, which was holding up the advance. In this he was assisted by Lance-Corporal T N Jackson, who was, however, killed almost immediately. Meanwhile, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards advanced to cross the Canal du Nord east of Demicourt, heading north of Flesquières. However, Graincourt to the north and Orival Wood to the north-east were still in German hands, as were Beet Trench and a beet factory. Acting Lieutenant Colonel Viscount Gort, commanding 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, attacked these two positions. He then personally led a tank towards the enemy, as his men made for Premy. Though wounded, he refused to leave the field until they had reached its outskirts. To the south of the Guards Division was 3rd Division which included 8th Battalion The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment which advanced on Flesquières, east of the Canal du Nord. There had been bitter fighting here in November 1917 but the Germans had retaken it in their Spring offensive. It was now recaptured by the British and Corporal T Neely distinguished himself by his gallantry during this action. By nightfall the British had advanced in places over four miles.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery and skilful leading during operations north of Cambrai. On September 27th, 1918, whilst leading his platoon against Bourlon Wood, he rendered invaluable support to the leading company, which was held up by a strong point, which he captured, by a flank movement, together with thirteen prisoners, one field gun and four machine guns. Later, his platoon, now much weakened by casualties, was held up by machine guns at the southern end of Bourlon Wood. Collecting any men available, he led them towards the strong point, and springing forward alone, rushed the position single-handed and killed the officer in charge, subsequently capturing at this point forty-five prisoners and five machine guns. Having made good his final objective, with a further capture of forty-seven prisoners, he consolidated his position and thus protected the remainder of the company. On October 1st, in the neighbourhood of Blecourt, when in command of a weak company, by skilful dispositions he captured a strongly defended position, which yielded eighty prisoners and seventeen machine guns. During two days of operations Lt. Lyall captured in all 3 officers, 182 other ranks, 26 machine guns and one field gun, exclusive of heavy casualties inflicted. He showed throughout the utmost valour and high powers of command. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 13 December 1918. 14 December 1918, Numb. 31067, p. 14775

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