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  • Writer's pictureSi Biggs

Lt Col Richard N. Bendyshe - Shot by a 'Spy' or sentry?


Richard (DIck) Nelson Bendyshe was born on 18th January 1866 in Ontario, Canada. His parents were Charlotte Brodrick and Nelson Bendyshe whose profession was described as Gentleman. Richard was educated in England and attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst before being enlisted in the Plymouth Division as a Lieutenant on 1st September 1885. In 1893 he married Eleanor Wardell at Canterbury, the couple would have two children.


Richard's service would see him promoted to Captain in 1895, Major in 1903 and Brevet Lt-Colonel in 1910. During this time he would serve on HMSs Indus (Devonport), Hecate (mobilised fleet), Serapis, Inflexible, Hibernia, Howe and Bacchante (Mediterranean). Richard also performed the roles of Chatham's Assistant Instructor of Musketry, Adjutant to the Plymouth Division and Staff Officer of the Chatham Division as well as Drafting Officer for Chatham. Richard was placed on the retired list 1st July 1910.


On the 1st August 1914 Richard was recalled for service and attached to the Lochboisdale wireless station in the role of censor. He applied to be posted to the Marine Brigade and was transferred to the Deal Battalion, serving at both Dunkirk and Antwerp. On returning from Antwerp he was appointed second-in-command of Deal. In late March the Battalion disembarked at Port Said for duty and, shortly after, he was appointed to C.O. of the Battalion.


Deal landed on Anzac on 29th April and two days later Richard is recorded as killed-in-action.


In 1975 a letter was sent by Capt. MacLeod, of the Lympstone Commando Training Centre, to obtain the service history of Richard. The following is an extract from this letter:

Lt Col BENDYSHE was killed-in-action during the campaign on 1 May 1915 when he was CO of the 12th Bn RMLI. His daughter-in-law thinks he was shot by one of his own sentries after failing to answer a challenge (he was slightly deaf, apparently).

The daughter-in-law was partially correct. The actual circumstances of Richard's death were even more bizarre, the following is a firsthand account:


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.


Memorial Plaque in St Peters Chrurch , Canterbury. A.M.D.G. AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF/ RICHARD NELSON BENDYSHE/ LT COLONEL R.M.L.I/ DEARLY BELOVED SON IN LAW OF/ HENRY JOHN AND ISABELLA ANN WARDELL/ WHO FELL AT GABA TEPE MAY 1ST 1915/ ON WHOSE SOUL MAY GOD HAVE MERCY

Another account of his service, the recording of his death is a little different;


Richard Nelson (Dick) Bendyshe

Service Branch: Royal Marine Light Infantry

Unit: Deal Bn.

Rank: Major & Brevet Lieutenant Colonel

Death Date: 1 May 1915

Cause of Death: Accidentally killed (shot in the stomach by a Royal Marine of the Deal Bn. whilst visiting the trenches at night)

Burial: Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac (Gi 7)

Service History: Commissioned Lieutenant RMLI 1/9/1885, Captain 1/4/1895, Major 5/5/1906, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel 1/2/1910; Deal Bn. at Dunkirk & Antwerp 1914 ; Deal Bn. MEF 28/2/15-1/5/15 DD.


Notes: Officer Commanding Deal Bn. 10/4/15-1/5/15 ; 6th Bn Australian Imperial Forces was to take over trenches held by Deal Bn. commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Bendyshe. Lieutenant Colonel McNicoll with Bendyshe and his Regimental Sergeant Major with some runners went for a recce. It was nearly finished and they rounded a corner when the marines started shooting at them. Bendyshe and his Regimental Sergeant Major were both killed. The Marines then charged with bayonets fixed and fortunately McNicoll was not stabbed. The runners were screaming at the Marines and finally quiet was restored. McNicoll ended up with cut hands from grabbing at the bayonets. They carted him off to the beach, bandaged his hands and gave him some sedatives (probably a bottle of rum). He stayed there the night and returned in the morning to his unit.; The Regimental Sergeant Major cannot be identified at present ; 2nd Lieutenant Raymond Humphrey Quill RMLI & his (12th) Platoon of 'C' Company, Deal Bn., were returned to HQ the following morning but 2nd Lieutenant Quill was returned to his trench. The Platoon involved in the incident were no doubt required to give evidence at the Court of Inquiry held at Brigade HQ at 9.30am 1/5/15. (2nd Lieutenant Quill went sick with diarrhoea 11/7/15 & was invalided home 28/8/15. He retired in 1950 as Colonel R.H. Quill CBE DSO MVO RM). ; Son of Nelson and Charlotte Bendyshe. Husband of Eleanor Margaret Bendyshe, of Barrington Hall, Cambridgeshire. ; Name commemorated on a brass plaque in All Saints' Church, Barrington, Cambridgeshire. [The Kings Candlesticks - Family Trees]


Lt.-Colonel Bendyshe is interred at Lone Pine Cemetery.


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