ANZAC Day is almost on us. Each year around this time the North Shore Labour Electorate Committee puts on an event to commemorate the sacrifice made by Jack Lyon. Lyon was the MP for the old seat of Waitemata 1935-41. He gave up his seat in Parliament and volunteered to fight fascism in Europe. He was killed in action during the evacuation of Crete. See this post on last year’s event for more on Jack Lyon.
This year Glyn Harper will deliver the Jack Lyon Memorial Lecture. Professor Harper is one of our leading military historians and author of the acclaimed Dark Journey, an account of the three key New Zealand battles of the Western Front in World War Two. He will talk about the tension in New Zealand’s past and present between on one hand the horror of war and the determination to avoid it at all costs, and on the other, our idealistic urge to take up arms when the call comes.
That tension is reflected in the life of Jack Lyon who was a democratic socialist and internationalist, but who was also a soldier in two world wars and altered his age in 1914 and again in 1939 to ensure that he would see overseas service. The lecture will look at other New Zealand MPs who shared Jack Lyon’s fate in 1941. It will attempt to make sense of why men like Jack Lyon felt compelled to fight and explore whether this tension can be reconciled. For more on the event, click here.