b. 24/12/1830 Dublin, Ireland. d. 01/02/1922 London.
Harry Hammon Lyster (1830-1922) was born at Blackrock, County Dublin on 24th December 1830. In his younger days, he was a special constable and participated at the Chartist Riots in London in 1847. The following year he was commissioned in the Honourable East India Company Army and appointed to the 72nd Bengal Native Infantry, just in time to be present at the Siege of Multan in the Punjab War.
In the Central India Field Force, he served on Sir Hugh Rose’s Staff as Interpreter and ADC. During the action at Baroda, Rose ordered him to lead a troop of Hyderabad Cavalry against the retreating rebels. Calling out for the native sowars to follow him, he found that as he clashed with the enemy the only man to join him was a native officer who was soon killed. Lyster charged in amongst the rebels, killing three and scattering the rest. Spotting the enemy’s cavalry he stopped and the rebel commander advanced, brandishing his sword. Lyster took this as a challenge to single combat and spurred his horse forward. The two men met head on and Lyster killed him with his sword, receiving a wounded arm in return. The rest of cavalry then fled.
On 23rd May, as the rebels fell back at Kalpi, Lyster performed another act of bravery which resulted in him being awarded the VC. His citation on 21st October 1859 outlined Lyster’s action in charging and breaking a skirmishing square of the retreating rebel army, killing two or three sepoys.
In addition to his VC, Lieutenant Lyster was mentioned in despatches five times. He received his medal in Calcutta in 1860 and elevated to ADC to the Commander in Chief. In the Afghan War of 1878-79, he commanded the 3rd (Queen Alexander’s Own) Gurkhas and was prominent at the battle of Ahmed Khal. On his retirement, he had attained the rank of lieutenant-general. He died in London on 1st February 1922 at the age of 92. He was buried in the churchyard of St James the Less, Stubbing, Berkshire. His medals are part of the Ashcroft Collection in the Imperial War Museum. His nephew Hamilton Lyster Reed would later receive the VC.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: ST JAMES THE LESS CHURCH, STUBBING, BERKSHIRE.
Harry Lyster's medals including VC at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery (courtesy of Thomas Stewart)