2nd Lieut. Geoffrey Bennock STRAHAN
Died of Wounds 31 August 1915
Geoffrey Bennock Strahan’s father was Alexander Strahan, a publisher, originally from Ross-shire. At the time of Geoffrey’s baptism at Holy Trinity Church, Paddington on 27 Sept 1882 the family lived in Maida Vale.
By 1911, the Strahans could be found at Oakhurst, Ravenscourt Square. Alexander, now a retired widower aged 76 lived with his elderly sister, and his son Geoffrey, now 28, and daughter Mary (26). Geoffrey is described as an artist. In 1912 he married Dorothy Margaret Foster, the eldest daughter of Myles Birket Foster, the Musician and Composer, who lived at 14 Woodstock Road from 1901. After marriage they lived for time at Hamlet Gardens Ravenscourt Park. After the war, however, Geoffrey’s will suggests that by then she had moved to White Gate, Tatsfield, Surrey.
Geoffrey Strahan was an active attender at St Michael and All Angels. In February 1907, he earned thanks, recorded in the parish magazine, for allowing the church’s “stage scenery” to be stored in his studio. Much less prosaically, in October of the same year he presented the church with an oil copy of A Madonna by Botticelli, the original of which is in the National Gallery. It hangs at the west end of St. Michael’s to this day.
At the outset of the war, Geoffrey joined the Inns of Court OTC (The Devil’s Own) as a Lance/Corporal, part of the 27th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Inns of Court); it was in effect an officer training unit with responsibility for training literally thousands of British officers prior to their deployment on the front line. The Regiment had an establishment of one squadron of cavalry (I.C.O.T.C. Squadron, formerly “B” (M.I.) Company) and three companies of infantry. They formed part of 3rd London Brigade, 1st London Division but in April 1915 it was re-named the 1/10th Battalion London Regiment and transferred to East Midland (162nd)Brigade, East Anglian (54th) Division. Geoffrey was commissioned 2nd. Lieutenant that April. In July 1915, for its first active tour of duty the Division embarked at Plymouth for Mudros, landing at Sulva Bay on 10th August 1915.
The initial landings at Suvla Bay had been on 6th August, and by the time of arrival of these reinforcements, the attack had became stalemated, the attackers having failed to gain the ridge of the Gallipoli peninsula in the face of the fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. For the remainder of the month, constant sniper fire, the poorly protected terrain, and much illness in the British lines was very much the predominant condition. It is not possible to say how Geoffrey was killed. The record states he died of Wounds on 31 August 1915. He is commemorated in the 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery, which was started in September with the arrival of an Australian ambulance unit, so he is presumed to have been re-buried during consolidation of a number of smaller burial grounds, when the stalemate had fully established itself. The memorial is inscribed: “Their Glory shall not be blotted out” – one of the epitaphs suggested by Kipling, from Ecclesiasticus 44,13.
Dorothy Strahan’s younger brother, Arthur Edward Birket Foster, was killed in action in April 1917.
Geoffrey is also commemorated at St Mary’s Church, Tatsfield, Surrey.