John Leonard Lyons 1917-2004. Known as Len.

1917 born John Leonard Lyons 19/11/1917 at 21, Darwin Street, Bermondsey to William J ohn, Sergeant Army Service Corps Motor Transport [leather salesman] & Jessie [nee Sullivan] Lyons. 4th child of 7. Birth Cert. B14. Baptised 9/12/1917 at the Church of the English Martyrs, Walworth. Godparent Elizabeth Allen: his father's sister

len lyons b.c.

len lyons baptism .lyonslen child

Len as a child- probably with siblings Jessie~3-4 & Dennis~1-2. ~1927.


. . . . .. . len .

Harry Columbell with wife Hilda White, not Harry Payne & Hilda Lyons!

Would have attended the Paragon School in Searles Road, like his siblings. And his catholic father took all the children to the Church of the English Martyrs, in nearby Walworth Road. Len himself was christened here on 9/12/1917, and his godmother was Elizabeth Allen, his father's youngest sister, born 1891, married 1915 and living with her husband on the first floor of 21, Darwin Street.

1932. The family moved from 21 Darwin Street to 9, Kenton Gardens, which his father bought.

Any idea what secondary school he attended in Bermondsey? Probably would have left school by summer 1932[ almost 15]. So what did he do as a job,1932-1939? It is thought he worked for Elizabeth Arden Perfumes.

1939/40-1942. Served with the Middlesex Infantry Battalion. Severely injured October 1942 at El Alamein. Any service medal giving his number?

1943. Was evacuated from Suez - presumably having been nursed in Cairo - to Durban, South Africa. Met up with his brother Bill in Cairo - photos on Bill's page


1945. Presumably returned to England at the end of the war.

42 Leythe Road, Acton, W3 was presumably his address before emigrating to SA , this being close to "The Perfume Factory", 140 Wales Farm Road, Acton.[ ie his old job with Elizabeth Arden]. This address was found in his cousin's, Arthur White's, address book.


Len, 3rd from right, maybe recuperating in SA ~1944/5

1946-8. Returned to South Africa. who did he work for?, at what?
1953. Married Catherine Geraldine Jansen on 11/11/1953 in Johannesburg in a civil ceremony, although Catholic Church was entered for denomination. His wife was born 08/08/1930 in South Africa. He was then 36.


lyons Gerry .lyons Gerry&aunt

Gerry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Gerry & Aunt


This photo taken by brother Bill at Harrow on the Hill on a visit to England, ~1973


c.1965. Only son John born.

Dates of birth for John and his children? Leonie's maiden name and date of birth? 1997 Date of their marriage?
Anything about the childhood, parents, siblings of Gerry?
And any other details anyone knows, please. Trips back to England?……

1970. I stayed with him and Gerry and young son John in his home in Johannesburg for several days during a visit to South Africa with my husband David. They made us very welcome and arranged for David to visit a goldmine.


Len, Gerry & John ~ 1972 at sister, Eva's house in Bramcote


Len with sister Hilda and son John ~1980- likely taken in South Africa on one of Hilda's visits

1970 - 2000. He visited England several times, usually alone, but at least once with Gerry, and also with son John . I think my parents, Frank & Joan Lyons ,also visited them out there, and certainly his sister, Hilda, also went out there at least twice, once for Len's and Gerry's son's, John's, wedding to Leonie in 1997.

1990s John Lyons married Leonie ??

2000. Granddaughter Bianca Lyons born.


Len, Bianca & Leonie 2003

2004. Granddaughter Carmen Lyons born . Did Len see her?

John,Leonie, Bianca & Carmen Lyons

Son John Lyons with his wife Leonie and children Bianca & Carmen, c. 2006

2004. 14th February. Died of natural causes, aged 86, at Randburg, Johannesburg, SA., Buried in Westpark Cemetery

The following tribute was given at Len's funeral:

His interest in soccer was evident from an early age and he was an ardent fan of Arsenal and attended matches with his brothers. Even more evident was his love of music and he was greatly influenced by Glen Millar, Benny Goodman and Ted Heath: his Saturday night visits to famous dance halls were remembered with great enthusiasm.

At the outbreak of the second world war, he joined the Middlesex Infantry Battalion and, at the age of 24, he was drafted to North Africa, and was one of the first casualties at the great battle of El Alamein, 23/10/1942. He was very seriously wounded and was treated in an emergency tent while the battle raged on around him. Miraculously he survived but the surgery was not successful and he was transferred to a Cairo hospital and then as a stretcher case by sea to Baragwanath Johannesburg. Intensive surgery to remove the shrapnel from his spine, abdomen, arms and legs covered a period of 3 years. His health was ruined and the impact of El Alamein was to remain with him for the rest of his life - a constant battle to survive until over the age of 80.Len returned to England in 1945, but could not settle, so decided to return to South Africa.

His life in Johannesburg continued to evolve around sport. He played golf, tennis and bowls - the latter with considerable distinction. Arsenal remained his favourite team and he watched its fortunes religiously on DSTV and only one week before he died he predicted that that year,2004, they would win both the Premiership and the F.A. Cup. Was he right?? His early interest in music turned into a passion and his tastes can only be described as universal. On his fine Hi Fi system he spent hours with Beethoven, Mahler, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross and George Benson.

Len's long life is a tribute to his determination and courage and one of his greatest rewards was his son, John, and John's wife, Leonie, and his two grandchildren, Bianca and Carmen.


2010? Gerry Lyons died

bianca-carmen . . john-bianca

Bianca and Carmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John and daughter Bianca . . . 2009

2012. All the English Lyons lost contact with Len's son John since his mother's death. But

2014 contact was resumed and Hazel & Bill's son, another John, met up with him in London in 2015


John, S.A., Hazel, & John, Cobham

2021. The 2 Johns arestill in touch

For Len's family tree, his childhood homes and details of his siblings see


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