Bedales 1908 – 1911. Private 2nd Battalion (the London regiment) Royal Fusiliers

There is some confusion over the name of this OB.  He was registered at birth as Armand Rudolph, entered in two censuses as Armand R but at school he was known as Ralph, (a signature from 1913 inserted into The Memorial Book confirms this).

Both Ralph’s parents were born in Germany but in 1883, before his marriage, Benjamin Strauss became a naturalised British subject. The Strauss brothers, in partnership with the Backes family, were the most prestigious diamond merchants in England and claimed to be the oldest firm in Europe, founded in 1789. The headquarters of the firm was at 14 – 17 Holborn Viaduct and it was possession of this property that gained the brothers the right to vote; electoral rolls from 1894 into the twentieth century trace the movement of the family homes around the edges of Hampstead.

At the age of thirteen years and six months Ralph arrived at Bedales in the Summer Term of 1908.  Judging by school publications (The Bedales Record and The Bedales Chronicle) there was nothing remarkable about Ralph’s school career.  Photography was one of his main interests and in his final term he received four stars (a high rating) for some photographs of birds.  He also succeeded in the Lower School Certificate, emerging with 1st class in French and Mathematics, 2nd Class in Arithmetic, German and English but failing in Latin.

As many other Bedalians, especially those with continental backgrounds, Ralph left Bedales to study in Germany at Heidelberg.  According to the Bedales Roll of 1934, the following year (1913) he spent at “École des hautes Études commerciales” in Paris. If The Bedales Chronicle for 13th December 1914 is correct, Ralph’s first reaction to the outbreak of war was to become a Special Constable. Because he was only a private soldier there is no paper record of his military service in The National Archives.  Sadly the details of his volunteering for the 2nd Battalion (the London regiment) of the Royal Fusiliers and his record of service were amongst the many casualties of a 2nd World War German bomb.

The Chronicles for February and June 1915 claimed that Ralph was serving in India but Mr. Badley, in his obituary gave different information.  He recorded that Ralph “was sent out to Malta at the end of 1914, then over to Egypt, and finally to the Dardanelles in the autumn of 1915”.  Letters to The Chronicle from OBs Dmitri Jarintzoff and Charles Wedgwood describe a period in Malta before being sent on via Egypt to the Dardanelles. The ledger showing Ralph’s eligibility for the Victory Medal states that he spent 30th August to 5th October 1915 in one location (I think Egypt) and then from 7th October to his death on 13th November in another (presumably the Dardanelles).  Unfortunately I have not been able to trace a War Diary for the 2nd Battalion’s time in the Dardanelles so have no further information about the circumstances of Ralph’s death. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s description is a little vague but I think his death is “commemorated” in the Redoubt Cemetery at Helles; two-thirds of the bodies interred there have never been identified and Ralph’s seems to have been one of them.

In his obituary Mr Badley recorded the final irony; “He was recommended for a commission; but the papers recalling him to London to receive it only arrived out there two days after his death”.