Col. Henry H. M. Lyle Collection of World War I Photographs and Documents

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Reference code

US AA014

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Level of description



Col. Henry H. M. Lyle Collection of World War I Photographs and Documents


  • 1916-1943 (Creation)


1 box and 20 folders (9.25 inches)

Name of creator


Biographical history

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. His other appointments 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.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of nearly 200 photographs of World War I soldiers, evacuation hospitals, field hospitals and areas of France taken by the U.S. Signal Corps., and maps and documents used by Col. Lyle in the course of his command. (The photographs have been integrated into the Mount Sinai Photograph Collection.)

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Conditions governing access

This material is available for use. Contact the Archives ( for access to these materials.

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Custodial history

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.

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Archivist's note

Processed by Nancy Panella, 2014.
Reprocessed and updated by Michala Biondi, December 2017; April 2021.

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