1. Memorial:Freemasons VC Memorial Great Queen Street

Awards & Titles:

Victoria Cross

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: 102nd Battalion, CEF 

Action : Natural Causes 

Natural causes is attributed those deaths due to causes that were not directly associated with the war. Included in this are wartime deaths resulting from, for example, theSpanish Influenza pandemic and its associated pneumonia problems and other attributions such as age and exhaustion. It also groups those who through Post Traumatic Stress committed suicide as a result of their experiences.

Citations & Commemorations :

  On 27th September, 1918, north of Cambrai, France, Lieutenant Lyall led his platoon in the capture of an enemy strong point, including 13 prisoners, a field gun and four machine-guns. Later he led his men once more against another strong point, rushing forward alone and capturing the position single-handed, on this occasion taking 45 prisoners and five machine guns. Another 47 prisoners were captured in his final objective along with another five machine guns. Near Blecourt, France, on the 1st October 1918 the capture of a strongly defended position yielded 60 prisoners and 17 machine-guns. During all of these operations, once the objective had been attained, Lieutenant Lyall, still under heavy fire, tended to the wounded.

An extract of the Canadian Freemasonry during the First World War document by Michael Jenkyns, FCF, Grand Historian (2009-2014) Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario (1914-1918) provides further context to his legend:

"Lieutenant Graham Thomas Lyall, B Mar 8, 1892 in Manchester, England, where he attended school and studied mechanical engineering. He moved to Welland in 1912 and worked for Canadian Steel Foundries and the Niagara Power Company. Three days after the outbreak of war he joined the 19th (Lincoln) Regiment (Militia), was placed on active duty and posted to the Welland Canal Field Force which provided guards along the canal, at hydro facilities in the peninsula and on international bridges. On Sep 24, 1915 he enlisted in the CEF and sailed to England in May 1916. On arrival he was transferred as a Corporal to the decimated 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles where he fought at the Somme (Sep 1916) and Arras (1917), earning a commission for his actions at Vimy Ridge. After OTS he was transferred to the 102nd Bn and his company fought at Bourlon Wood where they captured a German strong point and took 13 prisoners, 4 machine-guns and one field gun. Later in the southern end of the Wood they took an enemy strong point with 45 prisoners and 5 machine-guns. On Oct 1, 1918 they overwhelmed another strong point and took prisoners. For his actions Lt. Lyall was awarded the VC. After the war he returned to England. He was initiated into Lodge of Harmony and Industry, No. 381 EC, Darwen, Lancashire on May 8, 1919, but there is nothing further known about his Masonic career. In WW II he joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and was assigned to Egypt. D Nov 28, 1941 at Mersa Matruh, Egypt and is buried at Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt."

(See Appendix 3 #39. Sources: Wikipedia; Library and Archives Canada, CEF database and Canadian Great War Project database; Marilyn Adams Genealogical Research Centre listing of Masonic Holders of the Victoria Cross.)

See more at Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario.

Ian Carlisle, Chief Executive of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland provides an account:

"Graham Thomson Lyall – was born in Chorlton, Manchester in 1892 – the son of Rev. Robert Henry Lyall and Agnes Lisette Wells of Darwen, Lancashire. He was educated at Nelson Municipal Secondary School, and on leaving went on to study mechanical engineering before joining the Royal Navy. He was discharged on medical grounds and emigrated to Canada - settling in Welland, Ontario securing work as an engineer for a power company at Niagara Falls.

In Canada, he joined the Orange Institution – initiated into Enniskillen Loyal Orange Lodge 720 in St Catharines, Ontario. He enlisted with the Canadian Militia three days after the outbreak of war – aged 22.
He was accepted into the 81st Btn CEF and was posted to France where he saw service at the Somme in September 1916 and at the battle for Arras the following year. It was here that his leadership potential was recognized and he was sent to the Officers Training facility at Bexhill on Sea. Commissioned as Lieutenant he was posted to the 102nd Btn. CEF part of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade – seeing further service in Ypres 1917 and Amiens in 1918. In September 1918, the Canadians were tasked to breach the Hindenburg line on the Canal du Nord in a major drive to capture Cambrai and it was here that Lyall would win his VC.

His citation reads : ‘On September 27th, 1918, when the leading company was halted near Boulon Wood by an enemy strong point Lt. G. T. Lyall executed a flank movement with his platoon and captured it together with prisoners and its guns. Later that day his much-weakened platoon was held up by machine guns at the southern end of the wood. Lt. Lyall led forward his few remaining men, then rushed the position single-handed, killing the officer in charge, and took it with its machine guns, capturing numerous prisoners. Advancing, he secured his final objective and still more prisoners. On October 1st, near Blecourt, by skillful disposition of the weak company he then commanded, he overcame another strongly held position, seizing numerous guns and many prisoners. In these two days Lt. Lyall captured 3 officers, 182 other ranks, 26 machine guns and 1 field gun, and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. He showed throughout most conspicuous bravery, high powers of command, and skillful leadership’.

King George V presented Lyall with his Victoria Cross on 15 March 1919 at Buckingham Palace. After the war, Lyall married and settled in Airdrie, where he became Managing Director of Aerocrete (Scotland) Limited, a building construction firm. He joined the Territorial Army, and in 1939 was a Major commanding the 3rd AA Division Workshop Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

On outbreak of the Second World War, he was placed on Active Duty and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, proceeding to North Africa in 1940. In October 1941, he was promoted to Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer of the 87th Lines of Communications Sub Area of the 8th Army. He died in his sleep of a heart attack on 28 November 1941, aged 49 and is buried in the Halfaya Sollum Cemetery, located on the main coastal road from Mersa Matruh, eleven miles from the Libyan border."

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Lodge of Harmony and Industry No. 381 E.C.East Lancashire

8th May 1919
12th June 1919
29th July 1919

Graham is listed as a 27 year old Electrical Engineer in the register of the United Grand Lodge of England. It appears that his name confused the clerk, him preferring to write Graham Thomson, before it being corrected by another hand. The ledger shows no record his VC attribution and by 1921 it appears that he was in arrears.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2020-11-15 17:35:00