[Skip to content]

Person Details
25 Mar 1897
Cecil Charles was the son of Charles and Mary Lear. His father Charles was born in Exeter and was probably Charles Henry b. 1862 (O/N/D Exeter), and his mother was born in Exmouth, Devon. They were married in about 1891 and had four children: Arthur Charles b. 1893 (A/M/J St Thomas Devon), George Thomas b. 20 February 1895 (A/M/J St Thomas Devon) Cecil Charles b. 25 March 1897 and Charles b. abt 1889 (probably Charles Walter b. 5 March 1899). All the children were born in Exmouth. In 1901 Charles (38), a market gardener, and Mary, were living at 11 Blythe Street, St Ann's, Nottingham, with their four sons, Arthur (8), George (6), Cecil (4) and Charles (2). By 1911 the family home was at 528 Woodborough Road, Mapperley. Charles (48) was now a nursery man (florist). Only three of his and Mary's sons were at home on the night of the census: Arthur (17) an assistant cutter (tailoring), Cecil (14) a butcher's errand boy, and Charles (12) who was still at school. Although the second son, George, was listed in the household George had joined the Royal Navy on 27 October 1910 and on the night of the census was serving in HMS Impregnable at Devonport, Devon. According to a Naval record, Cecil's father, Charles, was living at 16 Egermont Road, Exmouth, at the time of his son's death in 1916. There is a record of the death of a Charles Henry Lear b. abt. 1863 who died in 1937 (Dec Nottingham) aged 74. There is also a record of the death of a Mary Lear b. abt. 1861 who died in 1939 (Mar Basford) age 78. Of Cecil's brothers: Arthur Charles married Nellie M Cooper in 1915 (A/M/J Nottingham). He served in the Sherwood Foresters (2535 later 265539) then in the Machine Gun Corps (107887) and finally as a 2nd Lieut. in the Royal Tank Corps. He served in France from 1917 and qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal. According to information on the Medal Roll he was living at 31 Valley Road in 1922 when he claimed his medals (Roll marked that he did not qualify for the 1914/15 Star). Between 1920 and 1925 he was listed in a street directory living at 59 Querneby Road, Nottingham, employment tailor's cutter. In 1941 he was at 75 Edgeware Road, Bulwell and at the time of his death at the age of 60 in 1953 he was living at 63 Commercial Road, Bulwell. George had been a porter before joining the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on 27 October 1910. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: Registers of Seamen’s Services: George Thomas Lear b. 20 February 1895 Exmouth. Occupation Porter. CS Engagement 20 February 1913, 12 years. HMS Ganges 27 October 1910-3 March 1911 (Boy 2nd Class), HMS Impregnable, 4 March 1911-26 September 1911 (Boy 1st Class, 1 September 1911); HMS Donegal, 27 September 1911-12 January 1912; Vivid I, 13 January 1912-13 February 1912; HMS Devonshire, 13 February 1912-1 June 1912; HMS Lion 2 June 1912-24 July 1913 (Ordinary Seaman, 20 February 1913), 3 days cells, 25 July 1913-27 July 1913; HMS Lion, 28 July 1913-1 December 1915 (Able Seamen, 20 March 1914). His service documents are annotated: '31 December 1915 ‘Run [deserted] Lion.' No other records have yet been traced but he may have died in 1951 as there is a record of the death of a George T Lear b. abt 1895 died 1951 (Dec Nottingham) aged 74. Charles Walter may have died in 1970 (Dec Nottingham) aged 71.
In 1911 he was a butcher's errand boy. When he joined the Royal Navy on 21 June 1912 he was a milk boy.
31 May 1916
2866534 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Defence Royal Navy
Cecil joined the Royal Navy on 21 June 1912 at the age of 15 and entered on a 12 year engagement on his 18th birthday, 25 March 1915. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: HMS Ganges, 21 June 1912-9 November 1912 (Boy 2nd Class), Ganges II, 30 November 1912-10 February 1913 (Boy 1st Class, 10 February 1913); HMS Hawke, 11 February 1913-20 May 1913; Vivid I, 21 May 1913-6 June 1913; HMS Magnificent, 7 June 1913-30 June 1913; HMS Exmouth, 1 July 1913-22 August 1913; HMS Defence , 23 August 1913-31 May 1916 (Ordinary Seamen 25 March 1915, Able Seaman 25 January 1916). Service record annotated ‘NP 4141/1916. DD [discharged dead] 31st May, 1916. Killed in action.’ The armed cruiser HMS Defence was the flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron (Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot) comprising HMS Defence, HMS Warrior, HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Black Prince. HMS Defence was engaged by the German battleship Friedrich Der Grosse, the German Battle Fleet flagship (Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer) at the Battle of Jutland. HMS Defence exploded and sank at 6.15pm with the loss of all of her 893 crew. HMS Black Prince was also lost and HMS Warrior was disabled and had to be abandoned by her crew. Cecil's body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon. A description of the loss of HMS Defence was given by an officer onboard HMS Obedient, 12th Destroyer Flotilla: "There was one incident at ‘Windy Corner’ which, alas, was more prominent than any other. From ahead, out of the mist there appeared the ill-fated 1st Cruiser Squadron led by the Defence. At first, the Defence did not seem to be damaged, but she was being heavily engaged, and salvoes were dropping all around her. When she was on our bow, three quick salvoes reached her, the first one ‘over’, the next one ‘short’ and the third all hit. The shells of the last salvo could clearly be seen to hit her just abaft the after turret, and after a second, a big red flame flashed up, but died away again at once. The ship heeled to the blow but quickly righted herself and steamed on again. Then almost immediately followed three more salvoes. Again the first was ‘over’, the second one ‘short’ and the third a hit, and again the shell of the hitting salvo could be clearly seen to strike, this time between the forecastle turret and the foremost funnel. At once, the ship was lost to sight in an enormous black cloud, which rose to a height of some hundred feet, and from which some dark object, possibly a boat or a funnel was hurled into space, twirling like some gigantic Catherine-wheel. The smoke quickly clearing, we could see no sign of a ship at all - Defence had gone. Mercifully this death, by which the 900 or so officers and men of the Defence perished was an instantaneous one, causing them probably no suffering." (www.devonheritage.org/Places/DevonCounty/JutlandHMSDefence)
Cecil's friend, AB Walter Ernest Fox, who also served in HMS Defence and died on 31 May 1916, joined the Royal Navy at HMS Ganges on 31 July 1912, a month after Cecil. Thereafter they joined the same ships on the same dates, including HMS Defence on 23 August 1913. Another Nottingham sailor, J17574 AB Charles Norman Brown of Lenton was also lost in HMS Defence. Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Roll of Honour’, 8 June 1916: ‘Fox. On May 31st, 1916, Walter Fox, AB, of 61 Mansfield-road, Daybrook, and friend Cecil Lear, AB, lost their lives with HMS Defence. Duty nobly done. His sorrowing father and family.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Photograph with caption, Nottingham Evening Post, 16 June 1916: ‘AB W Fox, 61 Mansfield Road, Daybrook, and AB Cecil Lear of Mapperley, who were chums and lost their lives together when the Defence went down.’ Probate: Lear Arthur Charles of 63 Commercial-road Bulwell Nottingham died 13 December 1953 at The General Hospital Nottingham Probate Nottingham 15 January to Philip Arthur Cecil Lear tailor. Effects £695 11s.
Remembered on


  • Nottingham Evening Post 16/6/1916 -