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Vice-Admiral Arthur Edward Frederick Bedford, CB, CSI (2 August 1881 – 5 December 1949) was a Royal Navy officer. He served in HMS Kent at the Battle of the Falkland Islands of 1914 and rose to command the Royal Indian Navy from 1934 to 1937, when he retired. A year later he rejoined the colours and served until the end of the Second World War.

Arthur Bedford
Arthur Bedford, 1915.jpeg
Bedford photographed aboard HMS Kent, 1915
Born2 August 1881[1]
Greenwich, Kent, England[2]
Died5 December 1949
HMS Newcastle (C76), Maltese Waters
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
British Raj British India
Service/branchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy
Years of service1895–1945
Commands heldHMS Kent
HMS Forward
HMS Tiger
Royal Indian Navy
Battles/warsWorld War I
* Battle of the Falkland Islands (1914)
World War II
AwardsCompanion of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of the Star of India

Early lifeEdit

The son of Admiral Sir Frederick Bedford (1838–1913), by his marriage to Ethel Turner, daughter of E. R. Turner of Ipswich, Bedford was educated at Dartmouth on the cadet ship HMS Britannia (the precursor of the Britannia Royal Naval College) and joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman in 1895.[3] His father had previously commanded HMS Britannia from 1886 to 1889.[4]

Bedford came of a long naval tradition. His grandfather, Vice-Admiral Edward James Bedford (1810–1887), had also been a Royal Navy officer,[4] and was himself the son of Lieutenant Frederick Bedford RN (born 1779), who lost a leg in a naval action near the Île d'Yeu in 1801. His great-grandmother, Mary Spearing, wife of Frederick Bedford, was the daughter of Lieutenant George Spearing RN (1728–1825), who when he died in his 97th year was Senior Lieutenant of the Royal Navy.[5][6]

His brother Denham Maurice Turner Bedford (1886–1974) followed him into HMS Britannia and the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.[7]


SMS Nürnberg, sunk by Kent in 1914

Bedford was confirmed as sub-lieutenant dated 2 August 1900,[8] and promoted to lieutenant on 2 August 1902.[9] After signal course at the Naval school of Telegraphy at HMS Victory,[10] he was in November 1902 appointed flag lieutenant to Vice Admiral Arthur Dalrymple Fanshawe as he became Commander-in-Chief Australia Station, and posted to the flagship of the station, HMS Royal Arthur.[11]

He had reached the rank of commander by the beginning of the Great War of 1914–18 and was Commander (second-in-command) of the Monmouth-class cruiser Kent at the Battle of the Falkland Islands of 8 December 1914, during which Kent sank the Königsberg-class cruiser SMS Nürnberg.[12][13]

In 1918, he joined the staff of the Dover Patrol. In early 1919, he was in command of the scout cruiser HMS Forward when she rescued members of the Tolstoy family from the evacuation of Odessa, about to be captured by the Bolsheviks.[14] For two years he was naval assistant to the Second Sea Lord, then in 1926 was appointed Captain of the Fleet in the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1928 he took command of the Royal Navy depot at Devonport, after which he was in command of the battlecruiser HMS Tiger. In 1931 he was appointed aide-de-camp to King George V and then promoted Rear-Admiral. From 1932 to 1934 he was Chief of Staff to Vice-Admiral Sir William Fisher in the Mediterranean, then from 1934 to 1937 was Flag Officer commanding the Royal Indian Navy. Promoted Vice-Admiral in 1936, he retired in November 1937,[15] but rejoined the Navy before the outbreak of the Second World War and served again from 1938 to 1945. He returned to the Retired List in May, 1945.[3][12]

While commanding the Royal Indian Navy, Bedford was also Naval Adviser to the Commander-in-Chief in India and Defence Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council.[15]


Bedford was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1934 and of the Order of the Star of India (CSI) in 1937.[3]

Private lifeEdit

In 1914, Bedford married Gladys Mort, the daughter of William Edye Mort of Sydney, Australia, and they had one son, Frederick, who as a lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm was killed on active service over Malta on 21 February 1942, at the age of 22.[12][16] Bedford's father had been Governor of Western Australia from 1903 to 1909.[4]

In retirement, Bedford lived at Easthampnett, near Chichester, Sussex, and was a member of the United Service Club in Pall Mall and the MCC.[3] He died on board HMS Newcastle in Malta on 5 December 1949, where he had gone to visit his son's grave.[12][17]


  • Vice Admiral A. E. F. Bedford, "The Royal Indian Navy", in The Naval Review, vol. XXVI, no. 2 (May 1938)[18]


  1. ^ UK, Royal Naval Officers' Service Records Index, 1756-1931
  2. ^ 1911 England Census
  3. ^ a b c d 'Bedford, Vice-Admiral Arthur Edward Frederick (born 1881, died 5 Dec. 1949)' in Who Was Who 1941–1950 (A. & C. Black, 1980 reprint, ISBN 0-7136-2131-1)
  4. ^ a b c 'Bedford, Admiral Sir Frederick George Denham (born 28 Dec. 1838, died 30 Jan. 1913)' in Who Was Who 1897–1915 (A. & C. Black, 1988 reprint, ISBN 0-7136-2670-4)
  5. ^ Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, vol. 19 (Devonshire Press, 1887), p. 40
  6. ^ William R. O'Byrne, A Naval Biographical Dictionary, vol. 1 (1849), p. 65
  7. ^ Denham Maurice Turner Bedford at, accessed 21 May 2011
  8. ^ "No. 27389". The London Gazette. 20 December 1901. p. 8981.
  9. ^ "No. 27461". The London Gazette. 5 August 1902. p. 5038.
  10. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36882). London. 25 September 1902. p. 8.
  11. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36908). London. 25 October 1902. p. 12.
  12. ^ a b c d 'Vice Admiral A. E. F. Bedford, Former Commander of the Royal Indian Navy', obituary in The Times dated 6 December 1949
  13. ^ Battle of the Falklands at, accessed 20 May 2011: "Armoured cruiser Kent went after light cruiser Nürnberg (action started 1615, sunk 1927)."
  14. ^ Lionel Dawson, Mediterranean Medley (Rich & Cowan, 1933), pp. 26-27 & 212: "The Countess was one of the Tolstoys, and her case was, indeed, a hard one. Only twenty-five years old, she had been Maid of Honour to the Dowager Empress. Having twice rescued her husband, a Guards' officer, from the Bolsheviks after he had fought all through the War, he had, quite recently, died within forty-eight hours of influenza, leaving her with two small children... she had a letter of introduction to Queen Alexandra with her... On the strength of this, I was authorised by the late Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, then flying his flag in Lord Nelson as Rear-Admiral Black Sea, to ask Commander (now Rear-Admiral) Arthur Bedford, commanding the scout Forward, if he would give her a passage to England, whither he was about to sail. Naturally he agreed ; and she left with him the same afternoon, with her family and luggage, being conveyed on board in the Admiral's barge, the victim of as complete a bouleversement of fortune as it is possible to imagine... News followed us that Odessa had, in due course, been occupied by the Bolsheviks."
  15. ^ a b Earl Brassey, Brassey's annual (Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, 1938), p. 22: "ROYAL INDIAN NAVY Rear-Admiral H. Fitzherbert, CMG, in November succeeded Vice-Admiral AEF Bedford, CB, CSI, as Flag Officer Commanding RIN, and Naval Adviser to the Commander-in-Chief in India and Defence Member of the Executive Council"
  16. ^ Boxgrove Priory page at, accessed 21 May 2011
  17. ^ "Princess Elizabeth". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 6 December 1949. p. 4.
  18. ^ Cited in N. A. M. Rodger, Naval power in the twentieth century (1996), p. 212
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Humphrey Walwyn
Commander-in-Chief, Royal Indian Navy
Succeeded by
Sir Herbert Fitzherbert