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Dyke, Lewis Glanville Howard (1900–1984)

by J. Whitelaw

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Lewis Glanville Howard Dyke (1900-1984), army officer, was born on 6 August 1900 at Fort Glanville, Adelaide, youngest of three children of South Australian-born parents Lewis Dyke, and his wife Marion Alice, née Abbott. An enthusiastic volunteer artilleryman, Dyke senior was then a major in the State’s Permanent Military Force. L. G. H. Dyke was educated at the Collegiate School of St Peter. While not academically inclined, he excelled at cricket and Australian Rules football. He left at 17 and was indentured to a solicitor. Service as a gunner in the Citizen Military Forces possibly influenced him towards a military career. He entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Federal Capital Territory, in March 1919. On graduation in December 1922 he was described as being 5 ft 10½ ins (179 cm) tall, of dark complexion with brown hair and eyes, and as having achieved an average performance in both military and academic subjects.

Dyke’s first posting as a lieutenant, Staff Corps, was to Fort Queenscliff, Victoria. On 20 September 1924 at All Saints Church of England, St Kilda, Melbourne, he married Maude Josephine (`Bobbie’) Preece. During overseas training with a Royal Artillery field battery in 1926-27, he saw service in India and China. He returned to Australia in 1928 to a succession of appointments with responsibility for the training and administration of Militia artillery units in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. He was promoted to captain in 1930 and major in 1938.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Dyke was seconded to the Australian Imperial Force on 13 October 1939 as a battery commander in the 2/2nd Field Regiment. He arrived in the Middle East in May 1940 and was second-in-command of the regiment during the 6th Division’s advance to Benghazi, Libya, in January-February 1941. A man of military mien, he was quick to react and somewhat explosive at times. Active, energetic and practical, he gave clear orders and delegated well. He was interested in and stood up for his troops. They returned his loyalty and called him `Gunner Dyke’.

In April 1941 the 2/2nd took part in the Greek campaign and the subsequent withdrawal to Crete. There the regiment fought as infantry until, in the face of overwhelming odds, the survivors were evacuated to Egypt. Dyke was acting commander of the 2/2nd until appointed Australian liaison officer at Creforce headquarters early in May. For his calmness under fire and `profound sense of duty’ during these trying days, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and mentioned in despatches.

Return to Egypt in June 1941 brought promotion to temporary lieutenant colonel and command of the Artillery Training Regiment in Palestine. He took over the 2/3rd Field Regiment in October. With the threat from Japan materialising in December, the regiment returned to Australia in March 1942. In June Dyke was promoted to temporary brigadier as commander, Royal Australian Artillery, of the 2nd Division, which soon moved from Sydney to defend Western Australia. Faced with considerable challenges, he applied himself with good humour coupled with criticism born of experience, and welded the artillery units of the division into an effective force. In mid-1943 he made a short familiarisation tour of New Guinea.

In November 1943 Dyke was appointed commander, Corps Royal Australian Artillery, II Corps. He arrived in New Guinea as the corps was pushing the Japanese from the Ramu Valley, clearing the Huon Peninsula and advancing to Madang. With the completion of this phase, he returned to the Atherton Tableland, Queensland, in May 1944. For his work in ensuring the best use of artillery support and his `outstanding devotion to duty’ during this campaign, he was appointed CBE (1945). The months that followed involved the resting, refitting and retraining of the artillery units of the corps (now redesignated I Corps) before deployment to Morotai to provide fire support for the landings and operations during the final campaigns at Tarakan, Labuan and Balikpapan, Borneo.

The capitulation of Japan saw Dyke take the surrender of Japanese forces in Timor in September 1945. As commander of Timor Force, he was responsible for the recovery of prisoners of war, the disarming and concentration of Japanese troops, the welfare of the civil populace, and liaison and negotiation with the Portuguese authorities in East Timor. Dyke tackled these problems with his usual drive. In April 1946 he was appointed brigadier (later director), Royal Australian Artillery, at Army Headquarters, Melbourne. He was Australian army representative in Washington from 1950 to 1952 and then deputy quartermaster general back at AHQ. Promoted to temporary major general in September 1954 (substantive 30 October), he commanded Western Command until his retirement on 6 August 1957.

In 1957-65 Dyke was employed as personnel manager by Austral Bronze Pty Ltd, Sydney. He maintained an interest in gardening, trees and the environment, and played a little golf. After a few years in Melbourne, he and his wife (d.1976) returned to Sydney. Survived by his son, Dyke died on 23 November 1984 at Royal North Shore Hospital and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Cremor (ed), Action Front (1961)
  • G. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria (1953)
  • G. Long, The Final Campaigns (1963)
  • D. Horner, The Gunners (1995)
  • L. Bishop, The Thunder of the Guns! (1998)
  • Dyke personal file (Royal Military College Archives, Canberra)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. Whitelaw, 'Dyke, Lewis Glanville Howard (1900–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dyke-lewis-glanville-howard-12450/text22389, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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