Captain William Leslie Lyster
William Leslie Lyster was
born in Empress Alberta on 20 February 1920 to Joseph Lyster. "Bill", as
he preferred to be known, joined the South Alberta Regiment in 1938 at
age eighteen and in September 1939 went to Medicine Hat to join the
He became a qualified
signaller in the Signals Platoon, and transferred to the 3" Mortar Platoon
in October 1940, being also appointed Lance Corporal. Promotion to
Corporal followed in May 1941, and in January 1942 he was made Platoon
Sergeant of Number Three Platoon (Mortars).
Dieppe Raid, he and Sergeant Bert Pittaway sailed on LCT 6. Lucky enough
not to be ordered to disembark on the beach, they manned an anti-aircraft
gun and were credited with shooting down a German warplane. They became
the first Calgary Highlanders to be rewarded for bravery in the Second
World War, being Mentioned in Despatches.
promoted to Company Sergeant Major of "C" Company in December 1942. He
want on to instruct at an NCO school, and was recommend by Lieutenant
Colonel MacLaughlan to attend #161 Officer Cadet Training Unit at the
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in April 1944.
Bill Lyster early in the
Calgary Highlanders Museum Photo
CSM Lyster and his
English wife, Eswyn, on the day of their wedding
21 August 1943.
Photo courtesy Eswyn Lyster
only attended the course, but passed out at the top of his class,
becoming the first Canadian ever to win the Belt and Sword of Honour,
the traditional reward for the first place student. Under wartime
circumstances, a Sword could not actually be bestowed, so Lyster
accepted a Sam Browne belt and a medallion. The promised sword never
materialized after the war; Eswyn Lyster commissioned Wilkinson to
produce one; it is currently on display at the Museum of the Regiments
in Calgary. Commissioned as a lieutenant, Lyster returned to the
Highlanders on 17 October 1944, as the fighting near South Beveland was
reaching its height.
himself Left Out of Battle, as new man in the company, during the
fighting west of Hoogerheide. At the end of October, he found himself
tasked with helping the padre retrieve the dead.
That was an experience for me.
It was a little hard picking up fellows that you knew personally. (One
man) was on his knees and he had his hands in his stomach. He had
stuffed his field dressing into his stomach. And he looked as if he had
been praying. He was stiff as a board; rigor mortis had set in.
Scheldt battle, the Highlanders went into static positions in the
Nijmegen Salient. Even here, though, no one was safe from harm. One of
Lyster's tasks on Christmas day was writing to the parents of Austin N.
Yeoman, a private belonging to his company. Lyster was now acting
company commander, and Yeoman had been killed the day before. "I
remember sitting down and writing a letter to Mr. Yeoman...I told him
what a brave son he had and all this sort of stuff and I didn't even
know the lad. That was our job."
Highlanders left the salient in February to participate in the drive to
the Rhine, Lyster was in command of "C" Company. While planning an
artillery shoot on February 27th, along with the CO and a Forward
Observation Officer from the 5th Field Regiment, a shell landed next to
the farmhouse they were standing in. Nixon and Lyster were both hit and
evacuted. Lyster had received some shrapnel in his nose; the FOO had
been hit in the temple and died shortly after reaching the Regimental
returned to "C" Company very shortly afterwards, and was wounded once
again on the 22nd of April, one day from being confirmed in the rank of
Major. He had been conducting a recce near Oldenburg when he was shot
in the chest and arm.
Regiment returned to Calgary in November 1945, Lyster was still in
hospital, and in fact remained hospitalized in both Calgary and Edmonton
until November 1946.
war, he was given a courtesy title of Major by the Regiment; he worked
as a sales manager for Canadian Bakeries Ltd. and later became the Chief
Park Warden in Banff. In 1968 he moved to Vancouver Island with his
passed away in December 1996.