Saturday, 24 May 2014

Royal Marines Remembered

The Crest of the Royal Marine Commandos

Four Royal Marines associated with the Lower Otter Valley are worthy of note, including three who lost their lives during World War One.

Lance Serjeant William Richard Bull is recorded as having died on 3 May 1915 during the Gallipoli Campaign, although one source gives an earlier date of 26 April. He is buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery in Turkey along with 1,134 identified casualties. 

The Campaign, lasting over eight months,  was an attempt to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. It was a major Allied failure and one of the greatest Ottoman victories during World War One, but casualties were heavy on both sides.  The first VC of the war was won at Gallipoli by a Royal Marine, but the Plymouth Battalion in which Lance Serjeant Bull was serving was reduced to half its strength.   

Image credit: Romtobbi
The memorial seen here commemorates the loss of the hundreds of thousands of Turkish and Allied soldiers who perished during the Gallipoli campaign. It is famous for the tribute written by Kemal Atatürk, the first President of Turkey.  Perhaps these words, inscribed on the memorial at Anzac Cove, provided some comfort for the families of the fallen:

 "Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well."


Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, near Helles, Turkey, where William Bull is buried
Image credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

William Bull is listed among those who ‘died in their Country’s Service’ on the Budleigh Salterton Roll of Honour, a copy of which is on display in Fairlynch Museum.  But strangely his name is absent from other memorials in the town, and further information about his links with Budleigh is being sought.


The last moments of HMS Queen Mary, as seen from a German ship during the Battle of Jutland

Private William Henry Mutters died on 31 May 1916 during the Battle of Jutland. Born in Dawlish to James and Mary Ann Mutters, he was noted in a newspaper account as a former builder’s labourer and resident of Knowle. He was serving on board the battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary when it was hit by enemy fire and exploded. His name appears on Budleigh Salterton’s War Memorial.


Private William Harding died, aged 49, at the Royal Naval Hospital in Stonehouse, Plymouth, on 10 November 1917 and is buried in East Budleigh churchyard. His widow Louisa lived at Brook Cottage in the village. He was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and is remembered on the memorials in All Saints Church and in East Budleigh village. 


Lieutenant Colonel Algernon St. Leger Burrowes is another Royal Marine whose grave can be found locally, in St Peter’s Burial Ground. He died at home on 18 December 1925 after a distinguished military career, being mentioned in despatches three times during the 1882 Egyptian Campaign and again in the Sudan Campaign between 1884 and 1885.  He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1911. During World War One he was a Recruiting Staff Officer in Bristol between 1916 and 1918 before retiring to live at Moorside on Sherbrook Hill, Budleigh Salterton. 

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 




  1. A marine from Plymouth came into What Katy Did and bought an original cinema quad poster of Cockleshell Heroes today! It will be put up at their base as a goodbye present that is poignant to the Marines history. Another piece of history continuing its life!

  2. Thanks Katy. Just seen it at A bargain!