Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Good Deed For The Day; We Will Remember Them

St Helens cemetery is where my late grandparents (and other relatives) reside so I am often up there, changing the flowers, maintaining the upkeep and giving the dog a good walk. Last month, I came across the grave of someone from our armed forces who lost his life during the Second World War and felt it was in need of a good clean up. It stood out to me because, by and large, these headstones are usually pretty spotless. But this one in particular resides under the shade of a tree so it has developed a fair bit of fungus. I took a photo of it today, Remembrance Sunday, so you can see what I mean


Of course, another reason why it stood out was the fact that its incumbent, M.M Lyon, was an air gunner and a sergeant in the RAF who lost his life at the tragically premature age of just eighteen years old in July of 1944. It's the kind of sobering fact that wakes you up to the horror of war and tugs at your heart strings. I'm 37 now, I could effectively by this young man's father, which is weird because, as a perpetually single, and childless, man I don't see myself as 37 at all and that makes me think what M.M Lyon would have done with his own life, those nineteen years that separate us, given the chance. Unfortunately, he did not get that chance because he gave his life so that people like me could live theirs in freedom. It's a statement that is rolled out a lot at this time of the year but it doesn't make it any less true.

Standing by that grave I felt determined to do something, and so today - the most apt day to do something for people like M.M Lyon - I went along and gave it a good, much needed clean up with Cilit Bang, a bottle of water, an old cloth and a scrubbing brush. You can see the results for yourself



I didn't know M.M Lyon obviously. I'm not related to him and I know nothing of his life. All I know is he sacrificed himself for his country at an age when if you asked me to go to the shops on an errand I'd have considered it an effort. I felt like I needed to do something to say thanks and to commemorate his service. I think we should all do that on a day like today.

I think we should always remember them, and always be grateful.

6 comments:

  1. What a lovely act of remembrance, Mark. You did a fantastic job of cleaning up his headstone. :-)

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    1. Thanks Catt, you can't beat Cilit Bang!

      I've just been and done a search on the forces war records online, MM Lyon was Maurice Mitchell Lyon, son of Francis and Florence Beatrice Lyon of St Helens. Born circa 1926. He enrolled in the RAF Volunteer Reserve and received two medals, the 39-45 War Medal;

      As with most Armed Forces Serving Personnel during the conflict of World War Two, Maurice Mitchell Lyon was entitled to the War Medal 1939-1945. This medal was awarded to all full time service personnel who had completed 28 days service between 3rd September 1939 and the 2nd September 1945. Eligible personnel who had been “Mentioned In Despatches” during the War were entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf emblem on the ribbon. Those eligible for a campaign star, yet who had their service cut short by death, wounds or capture by the enemy, still qualified for this medal.

      and the 39 -45 star;

      Given the information available to us it is likely that Maurice Mitchell Lyon was awarded the 1939-45 Star for operational Service in the Second World War between 3rd September 1939, and 2nd September 1945.

      Maurice Mitchell Lyon would have been awarded this star if their service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. Also the award of a gallantry medal or “Mention In Despatches” also produced the award of this medal, regardless of their service duration.

      Fighter Aircraft Crew who took part in the Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October 1940) were awarded the "Battle of Britain" bar to this medal. In undress uniform, a silver-gilt rosette was worn on the medal ribbon to denote the award of this clasp.

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  2. Thank you so much for doing that. Its made me cry. I am always amazed that these young pilots and soldiers and sailors were teenagers just starting their lives. It was very moving being in Marks & Spencers when the 2 minute silence was being observed, I had not been out during that before.

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    1. Exactly Michael, they were such young lives to sacrifice. It's very moving, very great to see people come together to pay their respects and observe the silence.

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  3. On a whim I decided to search online for my uncle, Maurice Mitchell Lyon and am delighted to find this news. Thank you so much for taking time to care for his gravestone - I and my family are enormously grateful and thank you for your kindness. Although the last of his immediate family left St Helens in 1966, he is still often remembered by his surviving brothers and sisters, all very elderly now of course. His younger brother, my father, emigrated to New Zealand in 1951, his older brother who also served in the RAF has lived in Northern Ireland since the 1970s, and his two sisters both live in Queensland, Australia. His parents followed my father to New Zealand and are buried there. I was named Maurice in his memory. Thank you again.

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    1. Thank you so much Maurice for getting in touch and making this link. To know that my clean up has meant something to you and a family on the other side of the world is mind blowing. I didn't do it for thanks, I just felt it was the right thing to do, but I am very touched that you managed to discover this small act and have offered your gratitude. Your uncle's sacrifice will never be forgotten, certainly not by me, and I'll continue to keep an eye on the grave. St Helens will always remember its own.

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