Ed Lyman served as Acting General Secretary of Nuremberg War Crimes Commission

Ed Lyman who lives in the Jacaranda Trace Retirement Community in south Venice, Fla. wore a dark blue uniform much like the kind worn by Naval officers during World War II. He even had an anchor patch on one sleeve, however he had captain’s bars on his shoulders. Lyman spent the Second World War explaining why he wasn’t in the Navy, he was in the “Army’s Floating Transportation.”

After graduating from City College of New York in 1934 with a bachelor’s degree he got a juris doctorate from Fordham University in 1937 and went to work for the New York State Banking Authority before the war.

After his father’s death, when he was six, the 100-year-old local resident was taken under his uncle, Maurice Broch’s, wing and introduced to New York politics at an early age.

“My uncle was Roosevelt’s campaign manager when the former president successfully ran for governor of New York State in the 1920s,” Lyman recalled.

“When the war came along I went to work for a year as a lawyer with the Office of Price Administration. They were the people who rationed sugar, rubber and other stuff.

Ed and his wife, Evelyn, during World War II. Photo provided

Ed and his wife, Evelyn, during World War II. Photo provided

“During the year I worked for them in a Quonset hut in D.C. My desk was 40 feet away from the desk of a young California lawyer named Richard Nixon,” Lyman recalled. “He was considered a rather quiet, unpleasant person.”

At the end of his year in Washington, Lyman returned to New York City and worked for the New York State Price Administration.

“I was always interested in boats and joined the U. S. Power Squadron in New York in 1942. As part of our duties as Power Squadron members, we patrolled New York Harbor in private boats,

“A while later the U. S. Coast Guard got word the Army was looking fort 200 officers they could run through a two-months short course on seamanship. They would become tugboat masters and sent to the war zone for a year,” he said. “They would receive a commission as a captain in the Army.

“I decided to join up because I had a nautical background. After our two months of training we were put aboard transport ships and wound up in Liverpool, England on June 6, 1944—‘D-Day.’ The next morning we were on our way to Glasgow, Scotland.

“We were all waiting in a huge barrack building with vaulted ceilings and ancient regimental flags hanging from the ceiling dating back to the Middle Ages,” Lyman said. “Capt. Edward O’ Leary, the man in charge, walked in and the interviewing process began.

“They interviewed us alphabetically. When my turn came, the man in front of me told me, before I walked in to be interviewed, ‘You’re not going to get a tugboat.’ He added, ‘Because of your legal background they plan to make you the executive officer of the outfit.”

That’s what happened.

“I ended up being shipped with Capt. O’ Leary to Cherbourg, France, a giant port along the Normandy coast near where the Allies invaded. I was his exec. What really furthered my military career, I didn’t drink or smoke. I gave my liquor ration and cigarettes to the captain. He was a big drinker and smoker.

“After six months working with O’ Leary at Cherbourg he sent me back to Falmouth, England to be the Army’s port captain there. I was in charge of all the Army tugboats coming to Falmouth from France,” Lyman said.,

“My job was to take the arriving tugs and allocate one of the giant barges we had hidden in an estuary at Falmouth. The tug would tow the barge back to France where it would be used as a floating pier for offloading military supplies.

“I stayed in Falmouth until V E-Day, May 8, 1945, when my time was about up. I learned U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, (who became chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials) was there. I wanted to meet him and Capt. O’ Leary made it possible for me to try and set up a meeting with the jurist at the American Embassy in London.

“When I arrived in London Jackson had already left. He was headed to Nuremberg, Germany to check out the courthouse and see if it would be adequate as a spot to hold the War Crimes Trials. I never did meet him,” Lyman said.

Not discouraged he learned the United Nations War Crimes Commission was meeting in London. This was a group of 16 Allied nations that had citizens who were tortured or killed by Axis Powers soldiers.

“When I arrived in London the commission was meeting at the Royal Court of Justice in London. Famous people were representing these 16 countries,” Lyman said. “The commission was chaired by Lord Wright, the third most important jurist in England.

“After being interviewed by Lord Wright he suggested that I might serve as Executive Secretary of the Commission reporting directly to him. Could I speak French, he wanted to know. When I said ‘No’ the chairman said they’d simply change the regulations so I didn’t have to be fluent in French.

“How soon could I go to work, he wanted to know. “I told him right away.”

Lord Wright ordered Lyman to check out The Church House, an impressive building constructed shortly before the war as headquarters for the Church of England. During the war the building was an alternate secret headquarters for Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his war cabinet they never used.

“The three floor facility had 30 offices and a beautiful, large meeting room. It was perfect,” Lyman recalled. “I asked them to give us 24 hours to make up our minds. Then I took the blue prints of the layout back to Lord Wright. He was impressed with my efforts. We took the facility.”

After six months working for the Commission, Lyman headed back to the U.S.A. The war was over and he went to work as the assistant director of the Veterans Administration Office in New York State. That job lasted a year, but he didn’t fit in well with management and was fired.

As his wartime boss, Capt. O’ Leary told him when he heard he had been canned, “It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to you.” He was right.

Lyman joined forces with four other attorneys who were opening an upholstery school for returning World War II veterans. Problem was they were having trouble getting the necessary paper work through the system to conduct the school.

 This is a picture of the War Crimes Commission meeting in London in 1945, before the start of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Sixteen countries whose people suffered genocide from Axis forces comprised the members. Lyman ran the meeting as Acting Secretary General. Photo: Picture Post Dec. 1, 1945

This is a picture of the War Crimes Commission meeting in London in 1945, before the start of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Sixteen countries whose people suffered genocide from Axis forces comprised the members. Lyman ran the meeting as Acting Secretary General. Photo: Picture Post Dec. 1, 1945

He was hired as the fifth member of the ownership who ran the school during the day. After a year or so at the helm of the operation “They offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse and bought me out,” he said. Financially it was a winner.

Within months Lyman opened his own upholstery school in Baltimore, Md. His school eventually had 350 students. I did that for seven years and then decided to go back to New York.”

“For 21 years I ran an antique and fine arts business in New York,” Lyman said. “Then my wife, Evelyn, and I and my daughter, Jane, moved to Venice in 2000. Both my wife and my daughter have since died.

More recently he is proud of his 4,000 hours of volunteers service at Venice Hospital. At 100 Lyman is the hospital’s oldest volunteer. A birthday party in his honor was given in June.

This is Lyman in his Venice apartment at 100. Sun photo by Don Moore

This is Lyman in his Venice apartment at 100. Sun photo by Don Moore

In addition, the centenarian is a published writer. For the last eight years he’s written for The Pepper Tree, a free publication circulated in the Sarasota area. Over the years he has produced 90 short stories for the bi-monthly paper.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, May 25, 2015 and is republished with permission.

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Edward Henry Lyman
June 24, 1912 – Nov. 6, 2012
Edward Henry Lyman, 100, of Venice, FL, formerly of Indianapolis, IN, died on Nov. 6, 2012. Services will be held at 3:30 pm on Thurs., Nov. 15, 2012, at Jacaranda Trace, 3600 William Penn Way in Venice, FL. Edward was an attorney and after retirement, an antiques dealer.
In Lieu of flowers a charitable contribution may be made to one of these charities, All Faiths Food Bank, St Francis Animal Rescue of Venice or Hospital Volunteers of Venice. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/heraldtribune/obituary.aspx?pid=161041503#sthash.8Bjs6RTG.dpuf
This obituary was published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune Nov. 13 and Nov. 14, 2012

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