Lieutenant Colonel Richard Nelson BENDYSHE
Deal Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry

Date of birth: 18th January 1866
Date of death: 1st May 1915

Killed in action aged 49
Buried at Lone Pine Cemetery ANZAC Plot III Row D Grave 6
He was born at Woodstock, Ontario in Canada on the 18th of January 1866 the eldest son of Nelson Bendyshe, gentleman, and Charlotte (nee Matcham) later of Easton House, Bigbury in Devon.

He was educated at the King's School Canterbury from September 1879 to July 1882, after which he went to the Royal Military College Sandhurst.

On leaving, he passed 5th in the examination for the Royal Marines and was commissioned as a Lieutenant on the 1st of September 1885. In 1893 he served at HMS Hibernia in Malta. He was promoted to Captain on the 1st of April 1895, to Major on the 1st of February 1903 and to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on the 1st of February 1910. He was Assistant Instructor of Musketry for the Royal Marines of the Chatham Division in 1895. He was Adjutant to the Plymouth Division from the 30th of March 1896 to the 31st of March 1901, Staff Officer of the Chatham Division from 1902 to 1906 and from 1908 to 1910 he was Drafting Officer, Chatham Division. He was serving with the 12th Battalion ROyal Marine Light Infantry when he retired from the service to the Reserve of Officers on the 1st of July 1910 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

He was married at Bekesbourne, Canterbury on the 15th of August 1893 to Eleanor Margaret (nee Wardell) and they lived at his family home, Barrington Hall in Cambridgeshire. They had two children, John Nelson (later a Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment) born on the 29th of July 1894 and Margaret Charlotte who was born on the 1st of November 1900. In September 1914 he succeeded his uncle as owner of the Barrington Hall Estate which had been the family seat since the reign of Edward III. He was succeeded on his death by his son who sold the estates in 1937.

On the outbreak of the Great War he took command, and acted as censor, of a wireless station at Lochboisdale on South Uist but applied to join the Marine Brigade and was posted to the Deal Battalion. He saw action at Dunkirk and Antwerp.

In November 1914 he was appointed as second in command of the Battalion and sailed with them on the 1st of March 1915 from Avonmouth onboard the SS Alnwick Castle. Their original destination was East Africa but they were diverted to the Dardanelles where they joined the 1st Royal Naval Brigade at Lemnos. On the 24th of March they sailed to Port Said and while they were there, he was given command of the battalion on the 10th of April 1915. They went to Mudros from the 11th /12th of April and to Skyros from the 24th to the 27th of April to practice landing operations. They landed at Gallipoli on the 29th of April 1915 where they relieved the 6th Battalion Australian Infantry at Gebe Tepe.

The account of his death comes from the private papers of an Australian officer who was present.

"The Deal Battalion were to relieve the 6th Australian Infantry Battalion in trenches at Gallipoli. Colonel Bendyshe was being briefed by the Australian Commanding Officer, Colonel McNicholl who was accompanied by a runner named Ward. The two men squatted on their haunches in front of a group of Deal men while McNicholl underlined the importance of saving ammunition by only firing at clear targets. The two C.O.s then moved to another group and began repeating the same information when one of the Deal men began to stare hard at McNicholl who was unshaven, heavily tanned and was wearing a torn and tattered uniform in direct contrast to the smart English officer next to him. Bendyshe spoke to the man, who by now was beginning to straighten up and said "Don't stand up, man, your head will be over the parapet". The man said "Yes, Sir" and raised his rifle to his shoulder and fired at Colonel McNicholl but the bullet missed, and struck Colonel Bendyshe in the stomach, killing him.

Pandemonium broke out with men running along the trench, towards the spot, firing wildly. An English Sergeant Major and two other men were shot. McNicholl was attacked with bayonets, one he deflected with his hand, through his tunic, entering at the button and out by the shoulder only grazing the skin and another which left a triangular hole in his left sleeve. Another Sergeant took charge and shouted at the men to get back to the parapet. They knocked McNicholl to the bottom of the trench on his back, the Sergeant telling the nearest man "Put your bayonet on his chest and if he speaks a word, pull the trigger". They then searched their "spy" prisoner removing his notebooks and revolver and then tied his hands and blindfolded him and marched him under armed escort down a communication trench. The first man they met was the 6th Battalion's Adjutant, whose language on recognising his commanding officer "was in the finest tradition of the AIF". He was given morphia for the wound in his arm by Dr Black of the 6th Battalion then escorted to the beach area where he was attended by Naval Division doctors."

The circumstances of Colonel Bendyshe's death were the subject of a court of enquiry by Colonel C.Mc.N.Parsons RMLI.

In a private letter, Sir Archibald Paris General Officer Commanding the Royal Naval Division wrote on the 5th of May 1915:-

.....A sad accident the other day. Lieutenant Colonel Bendyshe when visiting the trenches was shot by one of his own men, as if our casualties weren’t heavy enough without adding to them. Men get jumpy and fire at anything, especially these very young men…………………”


He is commemorated on the war memorial at Lifton in West Devon, on the memorial at All Saints Church, Cambridgeshire and on a memorial in St Peter’s Church, Bekesbourne.

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