Children of Reuben Alexander and Ruth Elizabeth Beck

Alexander William Beck01. Alexander William Beck (Alec)

Reuben Percival Beck02. (Reuben) Percival Beck (Percy)

03. Sidney John Thomas Beck (Sid)

William Arthur Beck04. William Arthur Beck (Bill)

Gladys Ruth (Beck) Mills05. Gladys Ruth May Beck

Edgar Robert Beck06. Edgar Robert Beck

1921-11-30 b. 31 Marlborough Road, Gillingham, Kent birth certificate; Sidney Beck's diary
1939-09-29 not found in the 1939 Register 1939 England and Wales Register (TNA: PRO RG 101)
  even when the bombs were dropping and everyone else was taking cover, Edgar used to carry on playing the piano, upstairs information from Daphne Beck, via Lucy Beck
1941-06-07 best man at his brother Sidney's wedding information from Sidney Beck
1941-10-19/-10-21 of 225 Marlborough Rd, Gillingham; stayed with the Becks at 44 Culver Lane, Reading Beck visitors' book
1941 Xmas was in the Lofoten raids, and was on the Direction Bridge during the action Sidney Beck's Mass-Observation diary
1942-03-28/-29 of P.O's Mess, H.M.S. Arethusa; stayed with the Becks at 44 Culver Lane, Reading Beck visitors' book
1942-07-10 at Alexandria, assumed to have been at the battle of the Convoys Sidney Beck's Mass-Observation diary

. . . my younger brother, Edgar, when he was in the Navy in home waters, at one stage I think his boat called at Newcastle, I think my parents must have given them Aunt Elsie’s address, and he had called on them, and made one or two visits to them. I don’t know whether it was on one of those visits or not, but at one stage he did a cycle tour from their house, I think—went off cycling to the Lake District, and back.

The Memoirs of Sidney Beck
Feb 21st.




Dear Bill,

               I wrote you a letter on Feb 7th. in it I discussed death & various other topics usually confined to the sub-conscious mind. Now that I feel in a more settled frame of mind that letter struck me as being a little out of place & I'm wondering if you're thinking if I'm in my right frame of mind. I intend therefore in this brief letter to acquaint you with the circumstances which caused me to be in this frame of mind & I trust you will make allowances for them.

   We are permitted to say we have taken part in the Anzio beachhead landings. The first two days were fairly quiet and we took them by surprise, but he wasn't slow in recovering. Since then we have experienced the usual bombs, torpedo bombers, glider bombs, shelling from shore batteries & the usual accessories. I hope you don't think—to use a naval term—I'm trying to flannel you at all, for I realise you've had your share of action & experienced it to a far greater degree than I.

   I feel as though I would like to give an account of myself, for the condition in which I last wrote you. Fortunately continued action gives one an indifferent attitude which condition I'm glad to say I have attained.

   We have between spells visited Naples, Pompeii & Capri all places proving of great interest. Naples is Piccadilly Circus on a large scale & if one so desired one would stray from the straight & narrow with ease. Capri I enjoyed immensely & climbed to the top of the island 1600 ft high. I met two charming Italian girls too & what with their broken English & my poor Italian a good time was had by all, & we parted without anybody losing their honour.

   Well Bill I don't intend to write a lengthy epistle this time as duty calls. This letter as I told was trying to acquaint you with condition at the time I last wrote you. So on closing heres wishing you bottom's up on a double Scotch & may you stay sobre after the third one.

         Cheers for now.

                Your adoring Bruvver,


P.S. Please do not write home about the type of action I've written about.


Edgar Beck's last letter, in my possession
1944 ordnance officer 4th class, Royal Navy death certificate; CWGC
1944-03-30 of 225 Marlborough-road, Gillingham; d. at sea, on war service, aboard HMS Laforey, in the Mediterranean death certificate; CWGC; National Probate Calendar
  . . . we got a telegram from my parents saying that Edgar was reported missing. I got leave immediately from my unit, to go home and see my parents. Of course at that stage we were still hopeful that he would be picked up and the news would come through that he was all right. We didn’t know, at that time, that the boat had been torpedoed and sunk—everybody on board was lost. We didn’t hear until the end of the war exactly the circumstance of how he had been very unlucky. He was coming back to England from the Far East to take up a commission; and en route he had to change boats at Suez, and, while he was waiting for a passage home to England (he was in the transit camp there), the order came through that everybody in the transit camp was required to fill up vacancies on the fleet’s ships which were in Port Suez, they were required for the invasion of Italy, Salerno Beach. He was one of those drafted to go on a destroyer, although he had been training as an artillery officer, gunner, apprentice, on the cruisers. He was detailed for this destroyer, the Laforey, and it was torpedoed during the invasion of Salerno Beaches.


I had had a letter from Edgar, from Suez, not long before he was killed; with hindsight it looked as if he knew it might be his last.

The Memoirs of Sidney Beck
  an account of the sinking of the Laforey, written by a survivor, appears on the BBC's WW2 People's War website  
1944-10-17 administration granted at Llandudno to Reuben Alexander Beck, chargeman of shipwrights; effects £192 13s. 2d. National Probate Calendar
  listed on Chatham Naval Memorial, as an ordnance artificer Naval Memorial

I visited Gillingham to see the unveiling of the extension to the Chatham War Memorial by Duke of Edinburgh. Took a photo of the panel with Edgar’s name on it.

Sidney Beck's diary

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This page was last revised on 2020-03-09.


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