As I venture behind the old cupboard doors, and follow the lives of William and Cis Lyons, I am left with questions. With a copy of Will’s enlistment papers in my hands, I wonder how he broke the news to his family. Where were he and Harriet when that word “enlist” marked the beginning of a new journey for their family? How did she really react?
It is true that he enlisted without consulting Cis. As one family member said, it would have saved an argument. In any case, I am sure that in the back of her mind she awaited that day with baited breath, hoping of course that it would not arrive. She may have hoped that he would feel responsible for his family and their fledging farm. However, she knew that she had married a soldier, not a farmer.
William Lyons was a soldier for 20 years prior to the outbreak of World War One. Even though he had given up his post in Toogoolawah to take up farming in North Queensland, he had not totally relinquished his Light Horseman’s reins. He was an honorary member of the 27th Light Horse Regiment in North Queensland for 15 months prior to enlisting on 27th September 1914.
When I sat down to write my post “War Drums of 1914”, I wondered where I should set the scene, as there are no living relatives who know. I kept throwing around ideas such as a train or perhaps jaunting along in a sulky. She could have picked him up at the Railway siding on the day he travelled to Ayr to enlist. Then my thoughts came back to “Fontenoy”, the farm where Cis fought her own war whilst her husband was away fighting his.
IMG – Click here to download William’s Enlistment Papers.
Tom Hourigan, the family friend from Dalby, did indeed come up to Fontenoy to help for the duration of the war and of course, as family know well, he never returned home. He was 21 years old at the time and according to family, he never returned to his home town. Once the war was over, he continued living in the Haughton District working for the Deane family, eventually marrying Cis’ youngest sister Nelly in 1935.
You will also note in the enlistment papers, there is a telegram handwritten by Cis, giving permission for her husband to joint the Expeditionary Forces. I question what the outcome would have been, had she not given her consent? Judging by the handwriting, she wrote it hurriedly, as if it was a task, not entirely to her liking.
History poses many questions for those visiting lives and times long gone. One cannot change the events of the world that changed the lives of those involved. One cannot change the decisions that were made in circumstances that were surreal to say the least. All one can do is accept those decisions and look at how they affected the paths of future generations. If William had not decided to give up his army career for farming in 1910, my family would not be farming today. So, despite the inadequacies he experienced as a farmer, I am forever grateful that he made that decision.