NEILL, Lyonel Clare Fyans
(Service number 37/1605 (66441))
|First Rank||Air Mechanic||Last Rank||Air Mechanic 3rd Class|
|Date||14 June 1894||Place of Birth||Dunedin, N.Z.|
|Date||24 June 1916||Age||20|
|Address at Enlistment||London|
|Previous Military Experience||NZ Mounted Rifles (3 years)|
|Next of Kin||Beatrice Victoria Robinson & Forster Fyans Neill, parents. Became Miss Harper, 14 Flanders Mansions, Bedford Park, London W|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||5ft 9in, 12st 10lb, ruddy complexion, hazel eyes, black hair|
|Served with||Royal Flying Corps||Served in||Air force|
|Body on Embarkation||Royal Flying Corps|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship|
|Date||14 March 1917|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Royal Flying Corps|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||30 October 1917||Age|
|Place of Death|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Brookwood (UK 1914-18) Memorial|
|Memorial Reference||Addenda panel|
|New Zealand Memorials||Albury War Memorial; Fairlie War Memorial|
Lyonel Clare Fyans Neill was born in Dunedin on 14 June 1894, the son of Foster Fyans and Beatrice Victoria Robinson Neill (nee Jones) who married in 1893 at Geelong. His grandparents, Percival Clay and Gertrude Emmeline nee Fyans had come from Australia to Dunedin in 1863 at the beginning of the Otago gold rushes. His grandfather had set up a supplies store for the miners, which included a liquor license. The business later merged with Wilson and Co to form Wilson and Neill Ltd. Lyonel's father Foster owned a property at Bushy Park, north of Dunedin, so Lyonel went to the school at Waikouaiti, beginning on 18 July 1904 and leaving 12 September 1905. In 1906 his father bought the "Albury Park" farm in South Canterbury and so Lyonel transferred to Te Ngawai School. In 1906 Foster also bought a Darracq car in Dunedin which is still privately owned and operating.
It is thought Lyonel worked on his father's property and served for three years in the in the local volunteer/territorial unit of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, before travelled to the England. Lyonel had married Marjory Eleanor Harper, born in Dunedin in 1897, in the March quarter of 1915 at Brentford, Middlesex. Their son Fredric Fyans Neill was born in on 6 March 1916, also at Brentford. Their daughter Joan Walcott Neill the came on 13 October 1917 at Harlow, Essex, about 17 days before her father's death. His mother Beatrice had also died in London in 1916, aged 47 years.
Lyonel worked with the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem. Lyonel had applied to join the NZEF in September 1914 and was discharged as medically unfit in the November. About 1916 Lyonel tried a different path, joining the Royal Flying Corps, where he became a mechanic. He was described as an Anglican, 5 feet 9 inches tall, with hazel eyes and black hair. He was also found to have a disability (otiis media) from an old mastoid operation in 1897 in Neww Zealand. As he was still discharging fluid form the site of the operation and had frequent pain in the head and vertigo, he was rejected for service as an aviator by the Air Board. Instead he became a mechanic and was stationed at Farnham and the Hall Flying School, London. But, on 17 October 1917 Lyonel boarded the "Osterley" to be sent home via Sydney to New Zealand. His recurrent ear infection appears to have contributed to his death on the voyage on 30 October. His death certicate reported his death as: "Meningitis and cerebral abscess, secondary to chronic suppuration of the Mastoid Antum". Lyonel was buried at sea, his grave being recorded as the South Atlantic Ocean (Lat. 730 S Long.120 W).
Lyonel was awarded the British Army and Victory medals. His service is commemorated on the Roll of Honour, Waikouaiti Memorial as N.F. Neill, St Clement Danes RAF Church London, the Albury and Fairlie memorials and the Commonwealth War Graves. His probate was filed at Dunedin 14 February 1919 and a war gratuity was paid to his widow. His wife Marge and the children returned to New Zealand after the war and at one stage were living in Wai-iti Road Timaru.
Lyonel's father Foster Neill later re-married Josephine Barton Gillingham in 1920 at St Stephens Anglican church at Fairlie. The couple had two children, who would have been half-siblings of Lyonel. Philip Foster, born about 1922, who died of polio in 1943 aged 20 was a medical student who also studied music at Dunedin. Katherine, born 1921, who on the death of her brother (Phillip) gave 1000 pounds for a music scholarship in his memory to be awarded by the University of Otago.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph [June 2021]; NZ WW1 Service Personnel & Reservists index; Guthrie index; Stock index; School records; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records [June 2021]; Probate [Archives New Zealand]
- Lyonel Clare Fyans Neill biography by Jennifer Cordes (Mackenzie Genealogical Group) (pdf, 107.7 KB updated 22-Mar-2018)
Researched and Written by
Maree Bowen, SC branch NZSG; Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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