Philippe Lys

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Philippe Lys (1763—1826) was a signals officer on Mont de la Ville, St Helier.


The third son of Jean Lys, Harbour Master, and Susanne Skibo, he was born in St Helier's in 1763 and baptized in the Town Church on 15 July.

In 1802 he was appointed Signals Officer on the Mont de la Ville. In the following year the building of Fort Regent was begun. On 4 June 1804 at 6 pm he was on duty in his lookout, when he noticed soldiers rushing headlong down the Hill. He was told that smoke was pouring from the ventholes of the powder-magazine.

It was the King's Birthday, and at noon a royal salute had been fired from the hill. A careless gunner had put back in the magazine an imperfectly extinguished length of the nitre-impregnated rope with which the cannons were fired.

Taking with him Edouard Touzel, a carpenter, and William Pulteny, a private of the 31st, he ran to the magazine. Touzel burst open the door, and flung out armfuls of burning fuses, which Lys and Pulteny removed to a safe distance. They then fetched water to extinguish the fire.

The States voted Lys a reward of 5,000 livres (about 300 guineas) and a gold medal suitably inscribed. In the following year he was appointed Inspector of Artillery on the Staff of the Militia, an appointment which he held till his death.

In 1813 he was promoted Major.

He married in 1785 Marie Messervy, and had nine children, one of whom, John Stephenson Lys, became Rector of Alderney.

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