Academic Informatics and Technology

Lyle, Col. Henry H.M., MD, Collection of World War I Photographs and Documents, 1916-1943


Creator: Henry H. M. Lyle (1875-1947)
Title: Col. Henry H. M. Lyle Collection of World War I Photographs and Documents
Dates: 1916–1943
Volume: 1 box and 20 folders (7 inches)


This finding aid was created by Michala Biondi in 2018.


These records, except for the photographs, were created by Henry H.M. Lyle, MD while serving in World War I, or as a result of having served during that time. It is unknown when they were taken into the custody of the St. Luke’s Hospital Bolling Library. The photographs, which came with the paper collection, were taken by the U.S. Signal Corps, and it is likewise unknown how they came into the possession of Lyle.

Biographical Note

Henry Hamilton Moore Lyle was born in Northern Ireland in 1875, the son of the Rev. Samuel Lyle and Elizabeth Orr Lyle, and was brought to Ontario, Canada as a boy. He attended Cornell University graduating in 1896, and went on to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, graduating in 1900. Lyle interned in surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital between 1901 and 1902. He joined St. Luke’s surgical staff in 1904 and remained an attending surgeon on that staff until his death in 1947. From 1913 to 1919, Lyle served as Assistant Professor of Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and from 1919 to 1931 as Assistant Professor of Surgery at Cornell University Medical College, becoming Professor of Clinical Surgery after 1931.

Lyle’s service in Europe during World War I was extensive. In 1915, before the U.S. was formally involved in the conflict, he took leave from his private practice and hospital positions in New York and spent six months as Chief Medical Officer of American Ambulance Hospital B, Juilly, France. During this time Lyle developed the “Balkan” or “Blake frame,” a suspension and traction frame that allowed easier handling of compound fractures of the limbs, which was later popularized by Dr. Joseph A. Blake.

In 1916 he again took a sabbatical from private practice and served for several months as Chief Surgeon of Ambulance d’Annel, Longueil, France. In April 1917, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve and in May was ordered to active service as a Major. In June he organized the United States Army Evacuation Hospital No. 2, which went to France with Lyle as its commanding officer in January 1918. Later in 1918 he was appointed Consulting Surgeon of the 77th Division and then to the field staff of the Surgeon of the First Army in charge of the evacuation of the wounded in the western section of the St. Mihiel Drive.

In September 1918, Lyle was made Director of Ambulances and Evacuation of the Wounded for the First Army. During the ensuing Meuse-Argonne offensive, over 125,000 sick and wounded were brought to the railhead hospitals under his supervision. During that period he was also Chief Consulting Surgeon to the First Army.

Having held increasingly responsible positions, Lyle was advanced to the grade of Lt. Colonel and shortly after to full Colonel. In recognition of his service, particularly during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, where the Evacuation Hospital No. 2 played a major role as one of two front line hospitals established in the Zone of Combat, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal. In part, his citation read:

…During the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives he so directed the functioning of the ambulances that, in spite of the great shortage of these, he was able at all times to transport the wounded expeditiously, thereby saving many lives and enhancing the morale of the combatant troops. By his eminent surgical skill he has devised a new practical method for the treatment of gunshot fractures.

Lyle was also awarded the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal.

Evacuation Hospital No. 2 was originally organized as Provisional Instruction Co. G. It was re-designated an evacuation hospital in September 1917 and was then placed under the command of Major Lyle. In January 1918, the unit sailed from Portland, Maine aboard the S.S. Megantic (White Star Line) to Halifax, Nova Scotia and on to Liverpool, England. The unit traveled overland to Southampton, sailed across the English Channel into France and by train moved overland to Bazoilles-sur-Meuse, where it remained from February 1, 1918 until April 11, 1918. On April 11, it was relocated a short distance to Baccarat (Meurthe-et-Moselle). It was demobilized at Camp Taylor, Kentucky, in May 1919.

At the end of the war Dr. Lyle returned to New York and medical practice at St. Luke’s Hospital, among other hospitals in the area. Upon reaching retirement age at St. Luke’s, he was named Consulting Surgeon to the Hospital. Other appointments he held included: Director of the cancer service at the New York Skin and Cancer Hospital; Attending Surgical Specialist to the United States Veterans Bureau, District No. 2; and as Consulting Surgeon to several hospitals in the Hudson Valley. Dr. Lyle, along with Alexander Ada, MD, is credited with performing one of the earliest successful removals of a cancerous lung in 1935. Lyle died on March 11, 1947 from coronary thrombosis.

Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions to access placed on this collection.


  • Baccarat (France)
  • Distinguished Service Medal (U.S.)
  • Hospitals, Military
  • United States. Army. Evacuation Hospital, 2nd
  • Photographs
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- France
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- France -- Verdun Region -- Maps
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Hospitals -- France
  • World War, 1914-1918 -- Medical aspects -- France

Scope and Content Note / Container List

Series 1: Photographs, 1916-1918

Dr. Lyle’s collection of close to 200 photographs is a unique and significant visual record of World War I. The photographs, which are in fine condition and range in size from 3” X 5” to 11” X 14” and include exterior views of  hospital stations, interior views (including views of operating rooms and special treatment rooms), ambulances, ambulance transport of the wounded, field dressing stations, sanitary train terminals, troop movements, and troops on the battlefields. The photographs have been integrated with the Aufses Archives Photograph Collection, under St. Luke’s Hospital-World War I and include the following folder titles:

  • Artillery
  • Machinery
  • Evacuation Hospital No. 2 (2 folders)
  • Exteriors – Towns
  • Field Hospitals and Dressing Stations (2 folders)
  • Interiors – Hospitals and Bath House
  • Miscellaneous
  • Patient Care
  • Rations
  • Reunions of Officers, 1926; 1937
  • Soldiers - Candid Images
  • Soldiers - Foreign
  • Soldiers - Groups and Individuals
  • Transport - Divisions
  • Transport - Vehicles
  • Transport - Wounded
  • Oversize Images

Series 2: Maps

These are maps of the roads and general area of France that apparently were used by Lyle during the war. They are stored in one oversized folder in drawer 9 of the map case.

  • Verdun: German rail network
  • First Army A.E.F. 12, Oct. 1918 Road Map (NE France/Verdun)
  • Operation Map No, 12, Verdun-Mezieres
  • Foret de Laigue area map showing locations of hospitals, ambulance transport routes

Series 3: Documents

This series includes military reports, letters, forms, lists, orders, and reprints of Lyle’s published articles drawn from his wartime experiences. Most of the documents are typewritten; one or two of the letters are by hand. They are arranged by date; when an item was undated and the date was undeterminable, it was left near the documents with which it was found. There are a few oversized photographs and documents that are located in the “St. Luke’s Hospital - Oversize box #1.”

Folder 1: 1916-1918

  • Ambulance Americaine de Paris. Hospital B á Juilly: Patient information sheet. 1916, 1p.
  • Ambulance de l’Hospital Americain de Paris, Collége de Juilly á Juilly: Patient information sheet. 1p.
  • Letter to Henry Lyle from W.W. Keen requesting information on “the matter of surgery of war.” 1p.
  • Letter to H.H.M. Lyle from the Council on National Defense Council requesting information on handling medical problems in times of war and of peace. February 15, 1917. 1p.
  • “Orders for the Day.” July 17, 1917. 1p.
  • “Hospitals: Locations, Casualties, Organizations, Beds.” First Army. Undated. 1p.
  • Letter from Lieut-Colonel L.J. Owen to Major H.H.M. Lyle, M.R.C. November 17, 1917. [Request for] Information regarding Evacuation Hospitals. 1p.
  • To Lieut-Colonel L. J. Owen, Surgeon General’s Office, Washington, D. C. from Major H.H.M. Lyle. December 3 1917. Information regarding Evacuation Hospitals. 7 p.
  • Letter from L.J. Owen to Major Lyle acknowledging receipt of the above requested information. December 4, 1917. 1p.
  • Evacuation Hospital No. 2 Christmas dinner menu, 1917. Note that the back of the menu lists officers and enlisted men.
  • “Major Lyle” table or other place card, hand-drawn. Undated.
  • Observations by Dr. H.H.M. Lyle. Feb. 1917. 3 p.
  • “Roster of Evacuation Hospital No. 2, USA, January 12, 1918.” 2p.
  • Memorandum No. 130. Hdqrs. 42nd Division, Office of the Surgeon A.E.F., 25 May 1918. [To Maj. Lyle] from J.W. Grissinger, Lt.Col. Med. Corps, U.S.A. Division Surgeon. (Detailed comments on the Medical Department, the Headquarters of the 42nd Division.) 3p.
  • American Expeditionary Forces. Office of the Chief Surgeon. Services of Supply. France, 3 June 1918. Weekly Bulletin of Disease No. 8: Information from the Gas Service. 2p.
  • Evacuation Hospital No. 2, US Army. American Expeditionary Forces. 8 June 1918. “Gas service: Symptoms and general treatment of gas intoxication.” 6p.
  • Provisional Instructional Co. “G” M.O.T.C. Schedule of Instruction. August 13 to 20.
  • Office of the Chief Surgeon. Headquarters First Army, Daily Statement Showing Organizations in Department. Nov. 2, 1918. 1p.
  • Letter of commendation from the Chief of Staff, 1st Army to the Chief Surgeon, 1st Army. November 7, 1918. 1p. (2 copies).
  • To the Chief Consultant, A.E.F. from the Consultant in Surgery for the First Army [Colonel H.H.M. Lyle], Dec. 4, 1918. “Report of Consultant covering the operations in the Argonne Offensive for the period of Oct. 28th, 1916 to Nov. 11th, 1918.” 4p.

Folder 2: 1919

  • To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army from Colonel H.H.M. Lyle, May 10, 1919. “Evacuation of the wounded in the Argonne-Meuse Offensive.” 42 p.

Folder 3: 1920-1943

  • Correspondence related to the Distinguished Service Medal awarded Henry H.M. Lyle. February 26, 1920; January 20, 1922. 3 single pages.
  • Print-out of statement re: Distinguished Service Medal given to HHML with citation. Undated.
  • Letter from F.W. Gibson, Office of the Surgeon, to Colonel Lyle regarding review of the manuscript, Evacuation Hospitals. April 5, 1926. 2p.
  • Lyle’s reply to Gibson including his review of the preliminary draft of “Evacuation Hospitals,” Letter dated July 23, 1926. 1p. Review/recommendations; Undated. 8p.
  • “Evacuation Hospitals.” Comments and questions on function and position, changes or additions to the equipment and changes or additions to the personnel. From Major H.H.M. Lyle. Undated. 3p.
  • To the Surgeon General, from Colonel H.H.M. Lyle: M.O.R.C. Jan (June?) 8, 1940. Subject: X-ray personal [sic] and equipment with special reference to their functioning in relation to the treatment of the lightly wounded. 3p.
  • Personal letter to H.H.M. Lyle from J.W. Grissinger. January 7, 1942. 1p.
  • Personal letter to H.H.M. Lyle (letter is to “Dear Harry”) from Jas. C. Magee, April 9, 1943. (Note: Magee was Major General, The Surgeon General, 1939-1943)

Folder 4: Reprints of Henry H.M. Lyle, MD

  • “Migration of shell fragment from right femoral vein to right ventricle of heart.” The Journal of the American Medical Association (February 17, 1917).
  • “The portable suspension frame employed in the treatment of the wounded during the European war.” Annals of Surgery, Philadelphia (June, 1920).
  • “The principles of the surgery, hospitalization, and the evacuation of the wounded in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.” The Military Surgeon, Vol 84, No. 6 (June, 1939).
  • “The cooperation between the Army services of evacuation and hospitalization.” Annals of Surgery, Philadelphia (August, 1941).

Oversized Items

  • Drawing:  Evacuation Hospital No. 2 U.S.A., Plan view and suggested improvements. (Located in St. Luke’s Hospital oversized box.)

Processed by Nancy Panella, 2014; reprocessed and updated by Michala Biondi, December 2017