"What of Bedwell?" The CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Copeman asked following the 4th Battalion's attack on High Wood. Bedwell had, like many others, fallen in the attack.
Victor Leopold Stevens Bedwell was born in 1894 at Saham Toney, Thetford, to the Rev. Thomas Bedwell and his wife, Mary. Educated at St. John’s Leatherhead, he received a classical scholarship to attend Exeter College, Oxford, where the Bedwell prize is still given in his honour. A keen cricketer, at the outbreak of war, he signed up to join the university officers training corps which allowed him for a few months at least, to continue his studies. He received a commission in 4th Suffolk in May 1915 and was posted to Halton Camp near Tring in Hertfordshire.
A contemporary of Lieutenant C.C.S. Gibbs, they arrived in France in May 1916, joining the Battalion near Bethune. After the briefest of interludes, the Battalion were rushed south to the Somme, where on 15th July, they were thrown into their first major action near the Bazentins.
During the attack on Wood Lane trench at High Wood, Bedwell was the last remaining officer to reach the forward lines. The Germans has positioned a machine gun in the edge of the wood, whose arc of fire cut down many of the Suffolks advancing that day. Bedwell, the last surviving officer, pushed his men on gallantly getting them into the trench at Wood Lane, but then he himself, fell to the machine gun's deadly fire. His body was never found.
Lieutenant Charles Cobden Storming Gibbs, who left the only real first hand account of that ferocious battle, wrote of him; “He carried the Iliad about with him. What a magnificent type of man compared with the officers we got later from secondary schools or from the ranks.”
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.