Leonard Charles Soar
Lieutenant, Royal Engineers/Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Leonard Charles Soar was born at 20 Elgin Avenue, London on February 26, 1899. Not long afterwards his parents moved to 258 Croxted Road, South London. He also had a younger sister, Janet, who was born in 1904.
Leonard was first educated at Dulwich Hamlet School before he joined Alleyn’s School in 1910. At Alleyn’s, Leonard took an active part in School athletics, was a sergeant in the School Cadet Corps, Captain of his house, and a School prefect. He earned 4 prizes during his time at the school, which were all books, rebound with the school crest stamped in gold on the front. These prizes were won for languages, mathematics and science. He continued to excel academically throughout his Alleyn’s career, winning a Senior County Scholarship in 1917. He also continued his passion for sports, coming 2nd in Class I in the 100 yards, playing in the school 2nd XI and being captain of the 3rd XI football team.
Leonard left Alleyn’s in 1917, gaining a place at St. Johns College, Cambridge to study Mathematics shortly afterwards. However, the First World War was still being fought overseas and before he could take up the position, Leonard received notice to join the British Army. By July 1917, Leonard had enlisted as a cadet with the Inns of Court OTC to complete his basic military training. He was later transferred to the Army Reserve where he served for a brief period as a Lewis Gun Instructor. With the tide of war turning strongly in favour of the Allies, there was less need for a constant and steady stream of recruits to the Western Front. As a result, many of the men who were conscripted towards the end of the conflict never entered a theatre of war. This was true for Leonard and he ended the war as an acting Lance Sergeant of 3rd Reserve Battalion, Royal Engineers, having never served overseas. He remained part of the Reserve Force until 1927 when he was appointed to the TA as an officer. By the end of his military career, he was serving as a Lieutenant with 4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.
With the war over, Leonard decided to continue with his education at Cambridge and earned a First Class degree in Mathematics in 1927 and later, in 1931, a Master’s degree. After leaving Cambridge, Leonard briefly considered going into Industry work before finding his true calling as a teacher. He took up his first teaching post in 1920 at Alleyn’s, substituting for a Master who was ill. Leonard taught at his former school from September 24th to October 4th 1920 and later took up a post as an Assistant Master at Whitgift School in Croydon. He taught at Whitgift until 1931, becoming the chief physics masters during his last four years at the school.
On April 10, 1926, Leonard married Margaret Mary Ellery, a teacher, who was then living with her parents at 32 Holmdene Avenue, Herne Hill. They moved to 13 Bramley Hill shortly after the birth of their first son on April 13th 1928 before relocating to Henley. They had a second son, Geoffrey, in 1932. By this point, Leonard was applying for headships and he began his first as head of Henley Grammar School in May 1931. He stayed with the school for 3 years before joining Enfield Grammar School in September 1934 where he worked until his retirement in 1964.
Leonard was known for his inspiring leadership, intelligence and enthusiasm; qualities that he made a huge effort to bring to every school he entered.