2nd Lt. Ernest Frederick Beal V.C. 27 January 1883 - 22 March 1918
This week the city of Brighton & Hove paid tribute to one of its brave sons who lost his life in WWI. Ernest Frederick Beal, born in Brighton in 1883 was killed in action in 1918 on the Western Front. Ernest Frederick Beal was the eldest son of John James William Beal of 55 East Street, Brighton, Sussex. He was an active member of the Boy’s Brigade. After Brighton Grammar School he worked in his father’s stationery shop and lived with his family at 148 Lewes Road, Brighton.
On 22nd September 1914, at the age of 31, he enlisted as a Trooper in the 2/1st Sussex Yeomanry. By the 11th June 1915, he was promoted to Sergeant and was posted on 10th September to the l/lst Sussex Yeomanry serving at Gallipoli and in Egypt.
In December 1916 he was recommended for a commission. It is not known where he trained as an Officer but he joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own, Yorkshire Regiment in September 1917 and was posted a month later to D Company of the 13th (Service) Battalion on the Western Front.
Second Lieutenant Ernest Beal was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery on 21st March 1918 at Saint-Léger. On the following morning, he was killed by a shell, aged 35.
‘For most conspicuous bravery and determined leading when in command of a company detailed to occupy a certain section of trench. When the company was established, it was found that a considerable gap of about 400 yards existed between the left flank of the company and the neighbouring unit, and that this gap was strongly held by the enemy. It was of vital importance that the gap should be cleared, but no troops were then available.
Organising a small party of less than a dozen men, he led them against the enemy. On reaching an enemy machine gun, 2nd Lt. Beal immediately sprang forward, and with his revolver killed the team and captured the gun. Continuing along the trench he encountered and dealt with another machine gun in the same manner, and in all captured four enemy guns, and inflicted severe casualties.
Later in the evening, when a wounded man had been left in the open under heavy enemy fire, he, regardless of danger, walked up close to an enemy machine gun and brought in the wounded man on his back. 2nd Lt. Beal was killed by a shell on the following morning.’
London Gazette, published 31st May 1918