Ernest Russell Lyon ( 1923-1944)

Share your success stories here.

Moderator: Global Moderators

Post Reply
puffin
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:08 am
Location: Cambridge UK

Ernest Russell Lyon ( 1923-1944)

Post by puffin » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:16 pm

Back in November 2006 I posted a memorial message for Russell (as I am aware he was known) on the TalkingScot site Remembrance Day board. He was a half brother to my father and he died in 1944 in WWII. All I knew was that from the CWGC site, and press cuttings handed down, was that he had died aged just 21 when he was in a Spitfire shot down by heavy flak over Ploemeur,Lorient, France on 27th July 1944.

In photo albums I have many pictures of him as a younger half brother to my father, Stanley Lyon.

The Scotsman press cuttings that I have show Ernest Russell Lyon to be missing in Action in November 1944, and then Presumed Killed in June 1945.

His name is also on my grandfathers' gravestone ( Ernest Hutcheon Lyon) in Colinton Cemetery, Edinburgh, with that also of his mother Elizabeth Wright Pealling where I had also thought (until now) that Russell was buried.

Over the last weekend I had contact from a local history researcher in Ploemeur, who had seen my November 2006 posting on this site about Russell. He was full of information regarding the unearthing of the remains of a Spitfire in 2003, at Ploemeur, and then also of an (officially) unidentified war grave of a RAF pilot at Guidel, buried just two days after the crash of 27th July 1944. Included in the information are photographs of the remains of the Spitfire found in 2003.

Today I have heard that the local record shows that the pilot was seen to be leaving the cockpit just as the Spitfire hit the ground.

This was a 234 Squadron Mission to attack the airfield at Kerlin-Bastard.
Eight pilots left their base in Cornwall. Six returned, the leader parachuted to safety but Russell Lyon did not return to base. I have all the pliots names and Spitfire references from today's contact from the researcher in France, to whom I ( and my brothers) are now deeply indebted.

All the present signs are suggesting that this unmarked grave at Guidel is that of Ernest Russell Lyon.

I will keep this board posted with further news of this, and if this proves to be my uncle I will be singing from the rooftops in his memory... however some serious research will still need to be undertaken to prove this.

:D :D :D :D :D :D

And three cheers too for the power of the TalkingScot site and the Internet in helping to solve these issues.

Puffin

emanday
Global Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 12:50 am
Location: Born in Glasgow: now in Bristol
Contact:

Post by emanday » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:29 pm

Hi Puffin,

Thank you for updating us.

What wonderful news! I hope you get confirmation very soon and, possibly, have his grave properly marked.

Please do let us know how you get on.

My thoughts are with you and your brothers,
[b]Mary[/b]
A cat leaves pawprints on your heart
McDonald or MacDonald (some couldn't make up their mind!), Bonner, Crichton, McKillop, Campbell, Cameron, Gitrig (+other spellings), Clark, Sloan, Stewart, McCutcheon, Ireland (the surname)

joette
Global Moderator
Posts: 1974
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:13 pm
Location: Clydebank

Post by joette » Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:56 am

I am so happy for you.I hope you get the confirmation soon & that's it's positive news.So many of these boys have only the sea or the air as their resting place.
Researching:SCOTT,Taylor,Young,VEITCH LINLEY,MIDLOTHIAN
WADDELL,ROSS,TORRANCE,GOVAN/DALMUIR/Clackmanannshire
CARR/LEITCH-Scotland,Ireland(County Donegal)
LINLEY/VEITCH-SASK.Canada
ALSO BROWN,MCKIMMIE,MCDOWALL,FRASER.
Greer/Grier,Jenkins/Jankins

puffin
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:08 am
Location: Cambridge UK

Post by puffin » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:09 pm

The good news on this story now is that the CWGC and MoD have confirmed to me this week that they have re-opened their official investigation into what has recently been researched by the French enthusiasts into Russell's Spitfire crash on the late evening of 27th July 1944 and the contemporary unidentified "RAF Airman's" burial in a cemetery close to the crash site on 29th July 1944.

I remain very pleased that after more than 60 years such an issue of identification might still be resolved. If good news follows from me in the weeks/ months to come then more power to TalkingScot for their decision to add the November remembrance pages in 2006 which led to the French enthusiasts finding me.


Puffin


:D :D :D :D

LesleyB
Posts: 8184
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:18 am
Location: Scotland

Post by LesleyB » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:24 pm

Hi Puffin
Great to hear that you are one step nearer to finding out what happened and to having the grave recognised ...and really pleased to hear that Talking Scot played a small part in achieving all of this. Thanks for keeping us updated. :D

Best wishes
Lesley

puffin
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:08 am
Location: Cambridge UK

Post by puffin » Mon Jun 18, 2007 10:28 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Lesley,

I will add to this string that in my research of the fateful Squadron 234 Mission of 27th July 1944 this has led me to find a book published in 2001 - Spitfire Mk. V in Action - by Peter Caygill, published by Airlife, ISBN 1 84037 248 6, where on page 207 there is a photo ( not seen by me before) of "A" Flight of 234 Squadron with Russell Lyon fifth from the left, amidst some 15 pilots standing in front of a Spitfire, and then on page 212 actual record of Russell's mission of 27th July 1944, codenamed 'Rhubarb 323' when his Spitfire (AR 343) was bracketed by heavy flak over Lorient and "dived away out of control trapping the pilot and preventing him from baling out." I have now spoken a few days ago with the author to tell him this present 2007 story and he recounted some hearsay talk from other 234 squadron pilots that when Russell joined up (voluntarily), just two months after his 18th birthday, he was nearly disowned by his family. Russell's father, my grandfather, had very strong religious convictions. My father Stanley, Russell's elder brother by this time was in the army, I am not sure if my father was called up, but I suspect so, compared with his younger brother Russell who volunteered as soon as he was 18. These subjects were never mentioned as I grew up. My father had a photo of his brother Russell on his desk. My father survived WW2 , his younger brother did not.

On D-Day 234 squadron pilots ( including Russell) were firstly escorting and protecting the planes towing the gliders full of troops for landing behind the Normandy beaches, and then later flying over Omaha and Gold Beaches giving general cover to the landing forces.

And so there clearly were deep family emotions associated then with the story, but, a generation on, (my grandfather died in 1985, and my father in 1991), with my two brothers we can see and perhaps understand this in a different light to that of the WW2 years and the agonies families then went through.

My generation has had it easy, with nothing like the world environment into which my father and uncle found themselves with WW2 bursting out at a time when they were either of an age to be called up to fight for their country or had to think what they would do when approaching the call up age.

This is family history at it's most earthiest but also at it's most fascinating........

Philosophically ......

Puffin

puffin
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:08 am
Location: Cambridge UK

Ernest Russell Lyon ( 1923-1944)

Post by puffin » Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:40 pm

This is just an update after no postings for a wee while on this subject.

We still await the outcome of the re-opened MOD/RAF/CWGC enquiry into the grave identification at Guidel Cemetery in Brittany, fingers are crossed on this.

I have also now succeeded in making contact with old members of 234 squadron who trained and served with Russell Lyon in 1942-44, and so there are some marvellous memories there now being recorded........and I have been invited to attend the Squadron's 90th anniversary Reunion Weekend in September, where also I will meet up with some of those who trained and flew with Russell.

My elder brother has also visited France and the local area and was shown around the crash site, the Guidel cemetery with the possible grave, and was entertained royally by the French researchers.

An eye witness to the crash itself, an elderly local farmer on whose land the crash occurred, has also been found. My elder brother was introduced to him and we have now obtained from him a written witness account of his memories of seeing the crash occur and then being first on the crash site scene before the German forces arrived and told him to "go away".

Other recent news from France and M. Le-Lan (who found me via this website) is that after publication of an article on this Spitfire Crash and the subsequent history in his local history magazine ( Ploemoeur) this December he indicates that he will then endeavour to lobby the mayor to get a road/street named after Ernest Russell Lyon in Ploemoeur. So if that occurs I will let this site know and be singing to the rooftops in thanks for that.

An article I have written is going to appear in my local parish magazine in the lead up to Remembrance Day this November and I have prepared an illustrated talk ( powerpoint 100+ images) for use, with one booking already (April 2008) for this.

And so I would encourage this site to continue to promote and refresh the Remembrance Day Board this year, as November approaches, and for anyone who has lost a family member in WW1 or WW2 or other conflicts to post memorials to their relatives.

.....I would never have imagined the consequences of my placing the memorial to Russell last year and what has happened to me in the months since.

Without exaggerating one might even say it has been quite a life changing experience for me.

So I remain indebted to TalkingScot for the idea.

Family history studies do not get much better than this. Whilst I have three or four other stories of some magnitude from my family history research this still beats them all.

Still trying to contain my emotion on this,
Puffin

LesleyB
Posts: 8184
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:18 am
Location: Scotland

Post by LesleyB » Mon Aug 20, 2007 11:06 pm

Hi Puffin
Many, many thanks for keeping up up to date with your story - it is truly remarkable what you have managed to achieve and how Russell's story has been uncovered and recreated, piece by piece. And again, I'm just delighted that TS has played a small part in this wonderful story. Having an eye witness account from the local famer is the sort of "icing on the cake" that is worth its weight in gold (...and some :lol: )! And well done to you, sticking at the research and writing the article and all the other avenues you have followed to do him justice. =D>

If/when that street is named in Ploemoeur, I reckon we'll need a wee TS street party! =D> \:D/

Best wishes
Lesley

JustJean
Posts: 2518
Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2004 12:52 am
Location: Maine USA

Post by JustJean » Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:52 am

A truly moving and inspiring testimonial Puffin....I'm sure your powerpoint presentation will be a great hit. I wish I could watch it myself!!

Best wishes with all that is yet to come
Jean

Russell
Posts: 2559
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 5:59 pm
Location: Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire
Contact:

Post by Russell » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:24 pm

Hi Puffin

I have watched this story unfold with fascination and a touch of 'What might have been.....' as my Uncle Russell was also in the RAF - bombers rather than fighter aircraft. He lived through it (and still lives!) but talks little about his experiences other than to look proudly at his Austrian wife who he met 'over there' and brought back here to be married.
The German POWs billetted and working on the nearby farms were guests at the wedding and read/translated the best wishes telegrams.
Its odd to think that commonplace things like telegrams were still possible between the two countries while a war was being waged overhead.

I hope that the next few weeks and months bring a satisfactory closure to your tremendous story.

Russell
Working on: Oman, Brock, Miller/Millar, in Caithness.
Roan/Rowan, Hastings, Sharp, Lapraik in Ayr & Kirkcudbrightshire.
Johnston, Reside, Lyle all over the place !
McGilvray(spelt 26 different ways)
Watson, Morton, Anderson, Tawse, in Kilrenny

Post Reply