When I was at Glasnevin searching for the unmarked grave of one of my maternal great-grandmother's sisters, out of the corner of my eye I saw a photograph affixed to a simple celtic cross, and I felt drawn to look at it. It turned out to be a very old image of a young man in uniform. I felt compelled to learn more about the tender looking young soldier gazing out of that image. The inscription on the stone provided many details which helped to guide me in finding out more about him and his family.
The stone reads,
In / Loving Memory / of / Elizabeth Lyons / 27 High St. / Beloved Wife Of / John Lyons / Died 1st April 1897 / Aged 32 years / Her daughter / Elizabeth M / Died 18th July 1897 / Aged 3 years / and her son / Sergeant Francis Lyons / No. 6626 1st Batt. R.D.F. / Killed in Action France / 21st March 1918 / Her Sister / Julia Byrne / Died 27th Aug. 1926 / R.I.P. / Sacred Heart of Jesus / Have Mercy On Their Souls.
When their wife and mother died, the family was living at 27 High Street in Dublin. Sometime after Elizabeth’s death, John Lyons moved with his two boys into the home of his sister-in-law Julia Byrne on Werburgh Street in Dublin. In the 1901 census the family is living at #24.1; in the 1911 census the family is still living on Werburgh Street, but have moved to #21.1. The family continued to live on Werburgh Street, eventually moving to #17, until the time of John's death in 1929. Julia died in August of 1926 and is interred in this grave with her sister and her sister's family.
Although their names do not appear on the stone, both John and his son William are interred in the grave. According to the registers of Glasnevin, John died 25 July 1929 and William, the last surviving member of the original family unit, died 12 May 1938 at the age of 47.
The image which drew me to this grave is that of the Lyons' son Francis. As the stone reveals, Francis was a soldier in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The addition of his service number 6626 made it easier to find his record of service during the First World War.
Francis Lyons was a Sergeant in 'Y' Company, First Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. As the grave stone attests Francis was killed 21 March 1918. Francis was killed at the very beginning of a period of battle which took place between March and August of 1918. During this time of less than five months, the Allied Fourth and Fifth Armies were driven back across the Somme battlefields, and thousands of soldiers perished. Francis was one of 88 members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers killed during this time. His body was never recovered and so he has no known grave; however he is memorialized on the Pozieres Memorial in Amiens France. The inscription on the principal gate into the memorial describes those for whom the memorial stands:
In memory of the officers and men of the fifth and
fourth armies who fought on the Somme battlefields
21st March - 7th August 1918 and of those of their dead
who have no known graves
The Pozieres Memorial commemorates the loss of 14,656 souls. The names of those killed who have no known grave are inscribed on panels on the walls of the memorial in order by regiment. The name Francis Lyons is inscribed along with those of his fellow regiment members on panels 79 and 80. As you can see from the dates recorded on the gate, Francis Lyons was among those who were killed on the very first day of this period of battle.
Francis Lyons is not only remembered at Pozieres, he is also commemorated on the pages of Ireland's Memorial Records, although there is a slight discrepancy in the dates. At Pozieres and on the gravestone in Glasnevin, the date is noted as 21 March 1918, but on Ireland's Memorial Records, the date is recorded as 3 April 1918. Whatever the precise date might be, on the day Francis Lyons was forever lost to his family on the battlefields of northern France, he was only 30 years old. May the precious picture affixed to his family's grave stone long stand in his memory.
For more information about the memorial at Pozieres visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission page on the Pozieres Memorial.
If you are related to this branch of the Lyons family please email me at irisheyesjennifer at gmail dot com.
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