Back in deepest darkest history (well 2002, but then again it feels like an age ago), I was doing my work experience in Spinks auction room in London, and it was shortly after this that I went to my first proper auction, and purchased amongst other things my first Distinguished Service Order, (DSO), I found what I thought was a nice group of medals to an almost unknown Brigadier General Tristram “Tiger” Lyon-Smith. I started my research into him and I found a rather good amount of background information.
From his Obituary:
Brigadier Tristram Lyon-Smith CBE DSO, Late RA (Retd)
Brigadier Tristram Lyon-Smith died at the Winchester Clinic on 29th November 1982, aged 87 years. Known as Tiger to all Gunners he was born in 1895, was educated at Uppingham and the RMA Woolwich and commissioned into the Royal Artillery in September 1914.
He served in FRance and Belgium almost the entire war, was promoted to Captain in 1917, was wounded and mentioned in Dispatches.
These years made a lasting impression on him and undoubtedly affected his subsequent attitude towards discipline and training.
Inthe inter-war years he served in England, Egypt and twice in India [21/3/1923 – 20/1/1927] ; Got his ‘Jacket’ as Battery Captain of The Rocket Troop and commanded Eagle troop. His interest in Sport, particularly Cricket and Horses, formed an important part of his life.
In 1940 he commanded a regiment in the BEF returning through Dunkirk. A year later he was a Brigadier commanding The Support Group in the newly formed 6th Armoured Division.
Here his early experience in the First War and his many years as regimental officer gave him the opportunity to form and train, most successfully, a Support Group consisting of four Gunner regiments and one infantry battalion.
As one of his CO’s at the time writes ‘His energy , enthusiasm and refusal to accept anything but the best, judged by his own high standards was a spur and an inspiration. Also a penance to the less dedicated, who he soon weeded out.’
He was a man of very direct character who faced any problem head on and was not deflected by difficulties. If at times he was rather outspoken with his contemporaries and seniors, his juniors such as Battery Commanders and NCO’s learnt to take heed of what he taught and his appearance on muddy positions or at OPs with words of encouragement, advice and occasionally praise, was welcomed in the battles of North Africa and Italy.
With the advent of Radio he was one of the first to realise that massed artillery fire could be controlled from an OP quickly and efficiently.
He left 6th Armoured Division in Italy in 1943 to become CRA 7th Armoured Division for the Normandy Landings and the advance across France into Germany in 1944 and 1945.
He was sadly to lose two wives, Phil in 1947 and Mabs in 1972. He leaves a daughter, Antonia Hunt; to her we offer our deepest sympathy.
Now it mentions in 1940, he commanded a regiment in the BEF, coming back through Dunkirk, what it doesn’t mention is that at this point his daughter had been left behind trapped in France…. but more about his daughter Antonia later….
He was awarded a DSO on the 16th May 1943:
He was then awarded a CBE on the 14th May 1945:
Tomorrow…. Tristram’s daughter, and her interesting war time exploits.