LYES, James (DCM)

No.13922, Lance Corporal, James LYES
Aged 22

2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
Killed in Action on 27th March 1918

James William Lyes was born in 1889, (Newmarket Q1-1889 3B:527), baptised at St Stephen, Higham on 17th February 1889, son of James William and Eliza LYES (née COCKERTON).

1891 census...Aged 2, he was at Broom Pin, Lower Green, Higham with his father James W LYES [30] farm labourer, born Higham; his mother Eliza [26] born Gazeley; brother Bertha [5 months] and grandmother, widow, Sarah Lyes [61] born Barrow and uncle George R LYES [19] farm labourer born Tuddenham. His sister Rachel [4] born Higham, was staying at Mill Road, Gazeley with grandparents Edward and Harriet COCKERTON.

1901 census...Aged 12,he was at Newmarket Road, Tuddenham with his parents, sister Rachel [14] born Higham, brother Bertie and brother Edward [7] born Higham. <

In 1908 (4th qtr Bury St Edmunds 4a:1757/) he married Ada Maria SALE [28-3-1887]. They had thre children:- Margery Ethel [11-4-1909], Arthur James [13-10-1911] and Gladys Winiffed [5-2-1917]

1911 census...Aged 22, he was with the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards at Grosvenor Road, Westminster, London. His parents were at Desnage Lodge, Higham with his brother Edward.

On the pension card his widow and children were at Cavenham, that was deleted and Barrow inserted.

His younger brother Bertie was killed on the Somme in 1916, and is commemorated on the Cavenham memorial . see here

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds. His medal card shows he missed the award of the 1914 Star by 24 hours!
The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal reads :-
123922 Private J.W. LYES, 5th Bn.,G.Guards (formerly 2nd Bn.,) LG 11 Mar.1916).
For conspicuous gallantry when advancing through a shower of bombs up an enemy trench. He greatly contributed to our success by untiring and accurate bomb-throwing throughout the night, both in the advance and during the enemy's counter-attack. On another occasion, when in reserve, he volunteered to go forward and help the company holding the barricades, and was severely wounded while doing so.


Soon after dawn on the 27th March the German infantry appeared, and evidently intended to continue their advance. The whole method of attack seemed to have been altered by the Germans. No longer did they advance in close formation, and offer easy targets to their opponents. They copied our methods, running forward by twos and threes, until a sufficiently strong line of men had been built up for an assault, and all the time feeling for a weak place in the British line. This new method was difficult to counter in many ways, for not only was there no target for our artillery but it entailed a great expenditure of ammunition often with little result. On this occasion, however, the new German tactics were not attended with any success, for the men of the 2nd Battalion began shooting steadily and thinning out the enemy's ranks with great accuracy. The firing was soon universal down the whole line, and the Germans found it impossible to make any headway against the storm of bullets. All four companies had a great deal of shooting, but especially No. 1 under Capt.Browning, since it was afforded an opportunity of enfilading the Germans, as they advanced across its front. All the time the enemy's shells fell on the trenches, and No. 4 Company under Capt. Wilson suffered severely. Lt. D. Harvey was killed by a shell, and Capt.Wilson was badly wounded. About the same time 2nd Lt. de Lisle in No. 2 Company was also wounded. Under the storm of shells and bullets the men found time to bring down one of the enemy's aeroplanes which had ventured down too low. The German attack did not progress in this part of the line, and the chief thrust drifted farther to the south opposite the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and the 4th Guards Brigade. 2nd Lt. Montague was sent from No. 3 to No. 4 Company, the latter having lost two officers.

The 2nd Battalion suffered 15 killed this day.

James was found here and re-interred in 1919

photo CWGC

James Lyes is buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France 6:B:29
He is also commemorated on the war memorials at Cavenhma, Tuddenham and Higham

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details