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. His name was added to the War Memorial in the Borough in 2018.




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