Horatio Bedford BEM


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Horatio Bedford, B.E.M.

BEMThe 1939-1945 Star

The medal entitlement of Horatio Bedford - The British Empire Medal for Meritorious (Military) Service, 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army clasp; Defence Medal, British War Medal with oakleaf emblem for mention in dispatches.

Horatio Bedford, R.A.M.C.

Horatio Bedford was born in the Shoreditch district of London on the 23rd March 1917. He was the son of David Bedford (1890-1968) and his wife Edith (1892-1968), nee Biggs. Horatio’s parents had at least 5 children.

It is believed the family moved to Leicestershire in the early 1930’s. On the 24th April 1933 sixteen years’ old Horatio Bedford joined a Territorial Army battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, and just over two years later, on the 25th August 1935, he enlisted into the Royal Artillery. In 1939 he married Alice E. Quin in Leicestershire.

On the outbreak of war he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was evacuated from Dunkirk during May-June 1940. On the 11th July 1940 the Supplement to the London Gazette carried a notice recording that King George VI had been graciously pleased to approve the award of The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Meritorious Service to No. 4857010, Corporal (acting Lance-Sergeant), Horatio Bedford, Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.).

Later in the war Sergeant Horatio Bedford, B.E.M., served with the R.A.M.C. in the Middle East, and was at both Tobruk and El Alamein. During his service there he was mentioned in despatches, for which he was awarded an oakleaf emblem. His gallant and distinguished service was notified in the Supplement to the London Gazette on the 13th January 1944.

During his war service Horatio was in an ambulance that drove over a mine. In the resulting explosion he lost an ear, his injuries were difficult to treat, which resulted in him being sent back to England. He had a form of plastic surgery to effect the look of an ear. He was eventually discharged from the army on account of his injuries.

Horatio Bedford, B.E.M.


The Postwar life of Horatio Bedford

In 1956 Horatio married Ruby Victoria Freda Relph, with whom he had had two children.

On the 25th August 1958 the Bedford family, who had been living at 7, Thessaly Square, Battersea, London, sailed from Liverpool on the 5,430 ton Motor Vessel Shomron, which was operated by the Bahr Behrend Company Limited. The ship voyaged southward and eventually the family were disembarked at Takaradi, on the Gold Coast (Ghana).

At the time the family made the voyage Horatio was working as a nurse tutor for the Foreign Office. He worked as part of an overseas development project in Korle Bu, at the Ghana Teaching Hospital. He met Her Majesty the Queen on a visit to Ghana.

With the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, Horatio then moved to work in Nigeria where he started working in his spare time with Lepers. He left Nigeria when the Biafra crisis erupted in 1967.

Horatio Bedford then worked in Uganda in charge of the Nurse Training programme throughout the country. He left under duress when Idi Amin tried to recruit him. He and his then wife, a Ugandan, declared they were in danger and after a meeting with General Idi Amin they drove to Kenya. They then took-up a job in Ethiopia.

In Ethiopia Horatio met Emperor Haile Selassie, who he persuaded to open the country to Freemasonry, an organisation with which Horatio had long had an involvement. After working in Ethiopia Horatio moved to Zambia, where he had hoped to live out his days. He worked at a University as a lecturer on Occupational Health. However, he continued working on behalf of Lepers, and was involved in raising awareness about supplying old spectacles for those with eye problems.


Under Kenneth Kaunda's presidency, Horatio decided to leave Zambia. Horatio returned to England aged 67 with a£10 allowance that was permitted by the Zambian government. In England he retrained as a chiropodist, and continued to enjoy life. He was a committed freemason and was appointed in London to the 13th degree of freemasonry.

In England he continued to raise funds for African lepers and sought to supply glasses to those with failing eyesight. He was invited to Kensington Palace to receive an appointment to the Knights of St. George. When he passed away the family received a letter of condolence from Her Majesty the Queen, who Horatio had met many times whilst he was working in different African countries. His passing was also acknowledged by a letter of sympathy from Kensington Palace.

At his funeral Gerald Howarth, a friend and Member of Parliament for Aldershot, delivered a eulogy which celebrated the rich and full life of a liked man - Horatio Bedford.

Horatio's parents are interred together in Thurmaston Cemetery.

Acknowledgement: With grateful thanks to Jacqui Watt, daughter of Horatio Bedford.

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