yeovil at War

lionel alfred beare

Fell on the first day of the Battle of Mons


Born in Yeovil in 1887, Lionel Alfred Beare was the youngest son of Alfred Beare and his second wife, Catherine Mary O'Neill, some 19 years his junior and the daughter of soldier John O'Neill. Alfred was a professional soldier, a musician in the 8th Regiment of Foot (the King's Regiment), discharged in 1861 and then became the Bandmaster of the Yeovil Volunteer Band.

In the 1891 census, 4-year old Lionel was living with the rest of his family at 6 Queen Street but by the time of the 1901 census 13-year old Lionel was a boarding pupil at the Industrial School at Farlington, Christchurch, Hampshire.

However Lionel wanted to become a professional soldier like his father and he enlisted at Poole, Dorset, giving his residence as Bournemouth. By 1911 he was a Private (Service No 7531) in the 2nd Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment. He was listed in the census of that year as a 24-year old Private serving in India.

The 2nd Battalion was in Poona, India, when war broke out and was shipped to Mesopotamia, where it was trapped in the Siege of Kut in late December 1915 and captured by the Turks. (Of the 350 men of the battalion captured, only 70 survived their captivity.) Lionel however, at some earlier point in time, had transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment which, along with the 6th Battalion, served on the Western Front throughout the war.

As part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), the 1st Battalion landed at Le Havre on 16 August 1914 as part of 15th Brigade in the 5th Division. The Battalion moved up to the front line immediately.

Lionel took part in the Battle of Mons, which was a part of the Battle of Frontiers in which the advancing German army clashed with the advancing Allied armies along the Franco-Belgian and Franco-German borders. The BEF was stationed on the left of the Allied line, which stretched from Alsace-Lorraine in the east to Mons and Charleroi in southern Belgium. Sadly Lionel Beare was killed within days of arriving at the front. The British reached Mons on 22 August 1914, the first day of the Battle of Mons, and Lionel was killed on the first day of fighting. He was aged 27.

He was one of the first of the Yeovil men to be killed in the Great War.

Lionel Beare is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France, however his name is not recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.




British infantry waiting to advance in the Mons area prior to the battle.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Lionel Beare.


La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France.

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is a small town 66 kilometres to the east of Paris. The La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial commemorates 3,740 officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who fell at the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between the end of August and early October 1914 and have no known graves. The monument is constructed of white Massangis stone and surmounted by a sarcophagus onto which military trophies are laid. At the four corners of the pavement on which the monument stands are stone columns supporting urns which bear the coats of arms of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom. The memorial was designed by George H. Goldsmith, a decorated veteran of the Western Front, and unveiled by Sir William Pulteney, who had commanded the III Corps of the BEF in 1914, on 4 November 1928.