Saturday, 6 June 2015

With the Gurkhas at Gallipoli: Lieutenant Rafe Beddy, 4 June 1915



This illustration in The Graphic of 5 December 1914, showing a Gurkha charge, was drawn by J.Dodworth from the description by an Officer of the 2nd Gurkhas. It is entitled  'India’s fighting men in action.'  

On land, following the initial invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula by Allied troops, intense fighting alternated with brief periods of consolidation. As on the Western Front, advances, followed by stalemate, led to the development of trench warfare, with many acts of bravery recorded together with heavy losses on both sides.


The Gurkha regimental cap badge shows two crossed kukris
 The Gurkha regiments in particular were notable for their heroism. Gurkha Bluff is the name given to the 300 ft (91 metre) vertical slope which had proved insurmountable to both the Royal Marines Light Infantry and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. A Gurkha unit scaled it with ease to attack an Ottoman machine-gun position which was doing significant damage to Allied forces. 

The Quarters of the Assailants of Gurkha Bluff: The Regimental Dug-Outs of the 6th Gurkha Rifles
Image credit: The Illustrated First World War from the archives of The Illustrated London News, reproduced under Creative Commons agreement 

On 4 June, the 1st Battalion of the 5th Gurkha Rifles found their way barred by a concealed trench. When Lieutenant Rafe Beddy saw a senior officer shot dead he left his place of relative safety with a machine-gun post to run across open ground and lend a hand. 

The 4th Gurkha Rifles moving through Gully Ravine, 8 June 1915.Image credit: Imperial War Museum   HU 105665   

His bravery earned him a Mention in Despatches. “By some miracle he succeeded in traversing the greater part of the intervening distance but he was then hit in the side, and died the same night,” records the regimental history.

Rafe Langdon Beddy came from a military family.  His father, Edwin Fawcett Beddy was a Colonel in the Bengal Staff Corps and Punjab Infantry. His mother Harriet Alice, née Langdon, came originally from Crediton.   

The parents had married in 1874 in India, where five of their six children were born. Two of his brothers had distinguished wartime careers: Brigadier Bertram Langdon Beddy DSO of the Army Service Corps served with the Indian Staff Corps, earning three Mentions in Despatches; another brother, Brigadier Percy Langdon Beddy CB, CMG, DSO, of the 51st Sikhs Frontier Force, died in 1945 in Budleigh Salterton where he had settled in retirement.


Rafe Beddy was a former pupils of Blundell's School, where his name is listed on the Great War memorial

Rafe Beddy’s name does not appear on any of the town’s war memorials but the Budleigh Salterton link is mentioned in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry, probably because his mother was living in the town, her husband having died in 1919. She and Colonel Edwin Beddy had returned to Britain by 1897, when Rafe was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.   


Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles, Turkey

Image credit: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
 The family’s association with Devon was maintained with the attendance by Rafe’s three elder brothers at the United Services Preparatory College in Northam. Rafe himself attended Blundell’s School, Tiverton.  He is buried in Pink Farm Cemetery, just off the road from Sedd el-Bahr at Cape Helles, Turkey.

The Beddy family lived in West Hill Lodge on Budleigh’s West Hill for many years. Harriet Beddy died in 1941 and her unmarried sons and daughters survived into the 1960s.

‘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. This is a moving testament to the Gurkhas and their officers.
    Thank you for putting this up in the public's eye, where it belongs !!

  2. I am very pleased you approved. I hope to continue centenary posts on this blog until 2018.