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.

Enlistment Information

Date 24 June 1916 Age 20
Address at Enlistment London
Occupation Motor driver
Previous Military Experience NZ Mounted Rifles (3 years)
Marital Status Married
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

Military Service

Served with Royal Flying Corps Served in Air force
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Royal Flying Corps
Unit, Squadron, or Ship
Date 14 March 1917
Embarked From London Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Royal Flying Corps

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


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

Biographical Notes

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]

External Links

Related Documents

Researched and Written by

Maree Bowen, SC branch NZSG; Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Logo. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.

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