“Every man in the Battalion would have followed him to the ends of the earth after the first charge. He was a fine officer” (CPL Rose 18th Battalion)
Major Cyril Lane (1888 – 1915) lived in the Wentworth Hotel on Grosvenor Street, The Rocks, when the war broke out. He enlisted as a Captain in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force on 18 August 1914 and was one of the first Australians in World War I to see action with the capture of German New Guinea.
Cyril returned to Sydney in January 1915 to marry Evelyn MacLurcan, the daughter of his business partner, at St Phillips on Church Hill, now York Street. Only a few weeks after the ceremony, he was appointed a Major and took command of B Company, 18th Battalion, arriving in Egypt in June 1915. His unit deployed for Gallipoli, even though Cyril believed his men were far from being battle-ready.
Shortly after they arrived on the peninsula on 22 August 1915, they were sent to the front line. Two days later Major Lane led his men in a dawn attack on Hill 60. His battalion of 750 men suffered heavy casualties, more than half were killed and many wounded.
After this disaster, the battalion was given only five days to recover before they were ordered to attack again. This time, the battle lasted two full days and while physically exhausted, they reached the third Turkish trench line where they were involved in brutal hand to hand fighting. The Turks threw bombs into the Australian trenches and the Australians lobbed them back. Major Lane was standing on a parapet of a trench ready to lead his men out again, when he was machine gunned in the chest, tragically ending a short, but heroic life.
He was recommended for a decoration for his gallant leadership, but this was not approved by the British military.
Sadly, he was never to see his daughter Evelyn, who was born four months after his death.
Lest We Forget