b. 14/06/1913 Chelsea, London. d. 27/04/1943 Dj Bou Arada, Tunisia.
Charles Antony Lyell (1913-1943) was born on 13th June 1913 in Chelsea, London, the son of the Honorable Charles Henry Lyell and his wife, Rosalind Margaret (nee Watney). His father died when he was just 5 in 1918, and he eventually succeeded his father’s title on his grandfather’s death in 1926, aged now just 13. Both his father and grandfather had served in Parliament as Liberal MPs.
He was educated at Eton and Matriculated in 1932. He graduated in 1936. Between 1936 and his death, he was a member of the Boodles Club in St James’, London. He married Sophie Mary Trafford on July 4th 1938. They had one son. He joined the 1st Battalion, The Scots Guards and in 1940, he moved his wife and son from their house in London to the ancestral home Kinnordy at Kirriemuir, Angus. It had not been a home since 1928. The house had no central heating, and, but for a simple 50 volt generator, no electricity. Lady Lyell set about decorating the rooms one by one, furnishing them in style and had electricity installed in 1950.
Sadly, Charles would not live to see the improvements to his ancestral home. He had been posted with the Scots Guards to North Africa, and by April 1943, the final battles were taking places and the Battalion were on the outskirts of Tunis.
From 22nd April 1943, Captain the Lord Lyell, commanded his company with great courage, ability and cheerfulness. He led them down a slope under heavy mortar fire to repel a German counter attack, and led them again on the 23rd under heavy fire to capture and consolidate a high point, which was held through a very arduous period of shelling, heat and shortage of water.
On the evening of the 27th April, Lord Lyell's company, while taking part in an attack, was held up by fire from a position which consisted of an 88-millimetre gun and a heavy machine-gun in separate pits. Lord Lyell led four men to attack this position; he was far in front of the others, and destroyed the machine-gun pit with a hand-grenade. Then, aided by covering fire from the only uninjured man of his party, he attacked the 88-millimetre gun pit before its crew could fire more than one shot. He killed a number of them before being overwhelmed and killed himself. The few survivors withdrew and his company was able to advance and take its objective. Lord Lyell's outstanding leadership, gallantry and self-sacrifice enabled his company to carry out its task, which had an important bearing on the success of the battalion and of the brigade.
His body was recovered and he was buried in Massicault War Cemetery, near Tunis. He is also commemorated on the MCC Roll of Honour, on the Kirriemuir War Memorial and on the Barony Church, Kirriemuir Memorial. In addition, he is commemorated on a memorial slab set into the walkway at Cumberland Close, Kirriemuir. This commemorates him and 2 other VC holders from Kirriemuir (Richard Burton VC and Charles Melvin VC). His medals which were presented to his widow after his death, are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: MASSICAULT CEMETERY, TUNISIA.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT V, ROW H, GRAVE 5
St Mary's, Kirriemuir
Cumberland Close, Kirriemuir
Kirriemuir Parish Church
House of Lords (Thomas Stewart)