Cyril was born on 7 August 1878, the son of the late Frederick and Lucy Burnfield Spear. His parents had married in 1868 in Nelson. They had a large family of eleven children being: Henrietta Katherine; Morris John; Holwell Wensley; Frederick Hone; Cyril Saunderson; Howard Walshe; Gertrude Louise; Pheobe Gordon; Elliot Vernon; Rachel Frances; Aubrey Rathgan.
Cyril attended Hope School briefly in March 1885, then Hampden School in Nelson November 1885. He transferred to Brightwater School in 1890.
Cyril worked in Invercargill for The Southland Times and in New Plymouth between the years 1905 and 1909. He worked, as a journalist, for the Nelson Evening Mail from age 17 years until 1915, then returned to work for the Nelson Evening Mail after the war. The Spear family had long ties to Motueka. Frederick and John Spear arrived in Nelson in 1858 and later moved to Riwaka where they ran a private school.
Cyril enlisted on 24 June. His serial number was 2/2346, B Battery Canterbury, 8th Reinforcements, Field Artillery. He embarked on 13 November. Cyril served in Egypt and on the Western Front. His war diaries, from 1915 to 1919, describe the journey out to Egypt, his daily life there and later his experiences on the Western Front.
He was appointed Bombardier New Zealand Field Artillery on 7 January at Zeitoun camp, near Cairo in Egypt and he embarked for France on 7 April. Cyril was hospitalised in October and November 1916 for influenza.
He was hospitalised in January, for scabies, and again at Etaples on 31 March.
He was back in New Zealand in May 1919 and was finally discharged on 8 June 1919.
On 20 October 1920 Cyril married Nurse Sister Ethel Hannah Barnes at St. James Church, Wellington. She was the daughter of Philip and Eleanor Barnes of Cornwall, England and the couple lived in Nelson. Ethel, who had served overseas as a nurse during the war, died in 1923 as a result of strains on her health suffered during the war years.
Cyril and Edith are buried at Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson; Cyril in the R.S.A. section and Ethel in the Church of England block. When Cyril died on 13 April 1958, A.R.Shaw, his brother, of King Edward Street, Motueka passed the information on to the N.Z. Defence Department.