Francis William Lyons, 1915 – 2002


1915. Born 10/01/1915 to William John Lyons, leather salesman, and Jessie (nee Sullivan) Lyons, at 10, Darwin St., Bermondsey. Birth Certificate.B13. He was the first son, third child.


He was baptised, like all his siblings, at the Church of the English Martyrs, Walworth Road on 7/2/1915. His godmother was Maria O'Neill


He was their 3rd child. Siblings were:-

Jessie Hilda Josephine Lyons 1910 –2009
Evelyn Ellen Lyons1912 – 2003
John Leonard Lyons1917 – 2004
William Lyons1920 – 1978
Jessie Maude Lyons1923 – 1944
Dennis Compton Lyons 1925 - 1985.

He moved to 21 Darwin St. by 1917 as the family had outgrown living at no.10 with Jessie’s sister Maud White. Jessie’s mother Hannah Sullivan, who had been living with George & Maud Marion White until then, moved to live with his family from this move until her death in 1922. No mention of this was ever made by Frank (as he was known in adulthood) to his children. But eldest sister, Hilda, remembers her grannie and how she used to retire to her room when son, William John, returned from work.

1926. At the age of 11 he was the first child in his primary school , Paragon School, Searles Road, Bermondsey to obtain a scholarship for at least 10 years [his cousin, Hilda White, Maud's eldest, had been the previous one, c.1906; their names were thus together on the school's Honours Board, since lost]. The schoolchildren were given a half day's holiday in honour of it. [The school was shut in 1980 and later converted into luxury flats] .

As a result of his scholarhip his father William wrote to several London schools (including Dulwich College, who returned the letter with ‘full up’ scrawled across it.) and had a favourable response from Mercers School, who agreed to take him providing that he knew some Latin, so this was duly studied before September 1926 when he started 6 happy years there. He always spoke affectionately of the Headmaster, a Mr. Jepson. Was known as Jimmy by his friends and this lasted into his Lodge years. He did very well at school. He obtained his school certificate, studying German, Spanish & French as well as Latin.

School Leaving Certificate and photo probably taken as he started at the school.

1932. He left school at 17 and joined, approx.October 1932, Geo. W. Whichelows, a Kid leather tannery, in Bermondsey. He had an impressionable business trip to Austria in Feb.1934, about which he wrote in the 1990s.. Brothers Arthur & George Preston[aged 40-55?] were directors.

1934 Became acquainted with his future wife, Joan Turner, who was a friend and work colleague of his sister Eva.

. . . .eileen

Joan & Frank, Eileen & Frank's mother, Jessie - ~1941

1939. He joined the territorials in Harrow on 28/4/1939

Was a Projector Arms Controller at Sawtry, Huntingdonshire in July 1939?? : this likely to have been when 'called out' as a Territorial, mid June- mid July.

Comment from Austin Ruddy: "I think the photo of the men and woman sitting at the table in the open air with the windbreaker, was taken in July 1939 with the other searchlight photo – note the similarity of the location. Also they are wearing their pre-war dress uniforms in both photos – in the tin hut photo, the group are all wearing their wartime battledresses". But would my mother have been at Sawtry before she had married Frank?- seems she must have been. Austin has other information on the Searchlights which I may be able to include once his thesis is published.

Men in wartime dress here- so likely Ullesthorpe
Formation badge of the 2nd AA Division – a witch on a broomstick who ‘swept the skies’ Photo taken at Sawtry 1939? 'cos prewar uniform

Army Service record 1939-1945.

1940. Married, aged 25, Joan Edith Turner, aged 25, on 14/12/1940 at Goodmayes Church( All Saints) - this an anglo-catholic church-JL2015 . She was then living at 42, Westwood Road, Goodmayes. He was given as Gunner, R.A., residing at 426 S/L Camp R.A., Ullesthorpe, nr. Rugby. Her father, William George Turner was given as Carpenter & Joiner, his, William John Lyons as Furrier Agent[ although seemingly a temporary government clerk at this stage!]. Witnesses were Lionel Dudley Turner, her brother. and John Leonard Lyons, his brother Len. Have m.c. M6. Her father was apparently not invited to the wedding in case he got drunk. Even so, there was a disturbance between William John Lyons, Frank’s father, and Bill Neil, sister-in-law's Hilda’s husband, due to the fact that the latter had failed to get bridesmaid Jessie Lyons to the church in time for the wedding. Another bridesmaid, Audrey Payne, Eva’s daughter, was also absent due to illness. But school friend, Olive, was there on time as a bridesmaid. I possess the bill for the reception at the Seven Kings Hotel, about £13 for about 30 people.


The Seven Kings Hotel is now an Aldi supermarket, – JL was going to have a look around 2015. A couple of decent old photos on the web


lytur-1940 R. Seated. ?, Mrs Mcnooch?, Lloyd, Margery, Pett & Billy Davies , ?, ?, Edith Turner[ ex Mead] , Lionel Turner , Len Lyons, Jessie Lyons [Sullivan],? Harry & Eva Payne [ she ex Lyons] Lyons, Arthur & Maud White[ she ex Andrews], Bill & Hilda Neil [ she ex Lyons] & Dennis Lyons.

L. to R. Standing. ?, ?, Doris Dore, ?, Jessie Lyons, groom Frank Lyons, bride Joan Turner, Olive Newman, William John Lyons, Bill Lyons & ,wife to be, Eileen Howson . Other unidentified guests might have been, Kath Saunders & Olive's parents. I would have expected Babe, Lionel's wife, to have been present.

. .

Error: for Bill Lyons read Lionel Turner!

sevenkings-2 .sevenkings-1

Old photos of the Seven Kings Hotel


1942. Joan had accompanied him, probably only when she left work due to her pregnancy, say May 1942, to Leicestershire where he was stationed.  Their first child, Hazel Joan, was born on 29/07/1942 in a nursing home in Leicester. At the birth of Hazel in the summer of 1942 he was a corporal, Royal Artillery (Bombadier 2087170 ). . His address at that time was; Holly House, Huncote, Leicester, although Hazel was born at 56 Clarendon Park Road, Leicester (a Nursing Home). Ullesthorpe, his address in December 1940, was about 10 miles south of Huncote. Feel Huncote must have been where Joan was living at the time, or he would have just put Ullesthorpe for his address

Hazel Joan Lyons

2 addresses are given for him in the Address book of his cousin Arthur White.

The Plough, Church Street, Earls Shilton, Nr Leicester, later
25 Desford Road, Thurlaston, Nr Leicester.

He told me that he was in Searchlights throughout the war. There was also a story of some of his unit going to France.

By the end of the war he was a Sergeant.

FWL's medals: from the left, Defence medal , Territorial medal, WW2 medal, and 1939-1945 Star [ relative sizes are misleading]. In the possession of his grandson, Adam Richardson.

Description of the Defence medal:  36mm diameter, of cupro-nickel 1, obverse shows the uncrowned head of King George VI and the legend "GEORGIVS VI D: BR: OMN: REX: F: D: IND: IMP:". The reverse depicts a crowned oak tree on a symbolic island, guarded by two lions. The words THE DEFENCE MEDAL are in exergue.
     Awarded to service personnel and many civilian organisations for three years service in non operational areas subjected to air attack or closely threatened. Also awarded for one years overseas service - If the overseas service area was subject to enemy attacks or closely threatened the qualifying period was reduced to six months. Many WW2 home defence and related organisations were eligible such as the Home Guard, Auxiliary Fire Service, Civil Defence, etc.

Territorial Efficiency Medal: Qualification information was that the recipient should be a member of the territorial army,militia,or Colonial Auxilary Forces service was 12 years with continual good conduct and had to be recommended as deserving by the appropriate commanding officer.War service and service in West Africa counted double towards the award of this medal.In all but exceptional circumstances service was to be continuous Other ranks who earned this medal then received commisions and earned The Efficiency Decoration were allowed to receive both but permitted to wear only one. FWL applied for this medal in August 1945

Two Medals, the Defence Medal and the War Medal, were issued in recognition of general service in WWII. These are circular medals made in cupro-nickel. The criteria for the award of medals to those who had fought in WW II were finalised in 1948. In accordance with the criteria, the medals were issued un-named.

The 1939 - 1945 Star.

A six pointed star, in the centre the royal cypher GRI VI , within a circlet bearing the title "THE 1939 - 1945 STAR". A crown is positioned on the circlet at 12 o'clock.
Bars issued (1); Battle of Britain.
Ribbon emblem issued: (1) a gilt rosette for the Battle of Britain bar (for when the ribbon alone was worn)
Awarded for service in the Second World War between the 3rd September 1939  and the 2nd September 1945. Qualification was generally six months in an active operational area, reduced to two months for RAF Aircrew. Time spent as a POW counted, personnel whose service was cut short due to death, wounds or sickness would qualify, those who won an award /decoration MID etc were automatically entitled to the star. Evacuated forces from Dunkirk, Norway etc, and commando raiders at St Nazaire, Norway, etc. gained entitlement. The Battle of Britain bar was won by the fighter aircraft crews who fought the Luftwaffe during the crucial period 10th July 1940 to 31st October 1940.

Also see official 1945 Government statement. and Medals of the Regiments for qualification by regiment. Was this why FWL received this Star??



1944. His parents and youngest sister Jessie were killed on 28/6/1944 in Kenton by a German V1 doodlebug. There is seemingly nothing in his service record to show that he was granted compassionate leave at this time. The house was flattened, but a mantle clock, that William had brought back from the 1st world war, survived and was still on the mantelpiece of his last house when he died in 2002. (This clock is now in the possession of his grandson, Giles Richardson, Hazel’s eldest child)

1945 daughter Christine Rosemary Lyons was born on 28/03/1945 at Ilford Maternity home. But I was always told that I was born at the George V Hospital, Ilford. He was down as Sales Manager Tannery, 2087170 Sergeant R.A.,of 60 Courtland Avenue, Ilford, but 92 Herongate Road, Wanstead Park, E12 also given. The birth was registered on 6/04/1945.

1945. . He was only discharged at the end of 1945 and was retained in the Army Reserve right up to 1955. Once discharged he resumed with Whichelows and eventually became a director, along with Phil. Preston[married to Gummy]. George Salomon was a business associate in the U.K.& Jean & Jacques Brandeleer in Brussels.


Hazel & Chris in Worcester Crescent garden.
Hazel & Chris
Bognor 1946?
Bognor 1946. Jill & Babe Turner, Joan White, Frank, Christine & Hazel


Taken circa 1952: Seated ?, Joan, Eva, Harry, Frank, standing ? Audrey, Clive.


London Leather Market, Bermondsey 2008.

1957. Left Whichelows and joined Bloors, Stafford, setting up an office in Northampton, with Richard Jelleyman, Yardley Hastings.

1958. Became Master of Corium Lodge,No.4041, The Leathersellers' Hall, St. Helen's Place, E.C,3 on 9/10/1958. Scan Card.

1967. Set up his own business Euroleathers with R. Jelleyman . They imported leather from Tanneries de Bort and had a stand at the Paris Leather Show for several years. Joan did the accounts for the business. After a shaky start the business did very well.

He was an active member of the Honor Deo (Old Mercers) and Corium (Leathersellers Hall) Lodges and acted on the stage with his wife, Joan, with the Old Mercers.

He took up Bridge with Joan at the age of ~60 and later taught it for the U3A. He was also a Justice of the Peace for ~15 years until 1985.


Hazel & Chris with Jaques and Lilian Brandeleer cirda 1954





2000. Frank & Joan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with his 2 remaining sisters, children, all six grandshildren and bridesmaid Olive Bird( née Newman) on the London Eye.

2002. Was becoming very forgetful by this time and was in considerable pain for the last few months of his life, eventually dying from carcinomatosis (unknown primary) & senile dementia in bed at home, Boughton, on May 6th 2002. D.C D15, shown at end of page.

Was buried in the old churchyard, just outside Boughton after a memorial service in Boughton parish church, given by his long time friend, the Rev. Simon Tebbitt, with one granddaughter, Joanna, reading her own poem as a tribute, and another Alice, reading Christina Rosseti's 'Remember Me' .

The ruined church of St John the Baptist lies on the east side of Boughton Green. Its tower and spire fell in 1786

Was survived by his wife Joan who died on 6/02/2006.


10, Darwin Street , Bermondsey ~1915 – 1917
21, Darwin Street 1917 - 1932
9, Kenton Gardens, Harrow 1932 – 1939
60, Courtland Avenue, Ilford 1944
92, Herongate Road, Wanstead ~ 1945 – 1953
6, Worcester Crescent, Woodford Green, Essex 1953 – 1957
Hilltop, Ashton, Roade, Northampton 1958 – 1988
Stable Lodge, Boughton Hall, Boughton, Northampton. 1988 – 2002


Aerial view of Boughton Hall , Stable Lodge shown centre , overlooking the village cricket pitch

Lyons family main page