Outside Northern Europe

Of course, in 1914, Britain was at the heart of an empire and commonwealth that stretched across the globe.

As such, many of its military officers were, at the start of the Great War, already overseas in far-flung places such as India. And many people commemorated in the UK served in the armed forces of countries they had emigrated to, such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Others made the long trip back to Britain to enrol in regiments raised from their home towns.

Lieutenant Rafe Langdon Beddy, the son of Colonel and Mrs Beddy of West Hill Lodge, Budleigh Salterton, was with the 1st Battalion of the 5th Gurkha (or Gorkha) Rifles (Frontier Force) when he died on 4 June, 1915. He is buried at Pink Farm Cemetery in Helles, near Gallipoli. The 5th Gurkha was part of the Indian Army, which provided almost 150,000 soldiers for the Allies on the Western Front alone. Almost 700,000 men of the Indian Army also saw action in the Middle East against Turkish forces. In total, men of the Indian Army were awarded 12 Victoria Crosses in the Great War.

Sergeant Frank Roberts was the son of George Roberts of Newton Poppleford, and was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment when he died on October 11, 1917. He is buried at a cemetery called Dozinghem in Belgium.

It is therefore likely that he died of wounds sustained in battle, rather than being killed outright, as Dozinghem was one of three casualty clearing stations near a town called Westvleteren. Even amid the horror of the war, troops’ humour was clearly still to the fore: the other two clearing stations were called Mendinghem and Bandaghem!

Newfoundland, off the east coast of Canada, provided troops for the British Army from 1795. The dominion, in 1914, was not yet part of Canada, and at the outbreak of the war its government decided to raise a force for the British Army. Like the 5th Gurkha Rifles, the 1st Newfoundland fought at Gallipoli in 1915, but then went on to serve on the Western Front. Tragically, on June 1, 1916, it suffered terrible losses on what was the first day of the Battle of the Somme and was virtually wiped out. Since then, June 1 has been marked as Memorial Day in Newfoundland.

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