Reuben Beecliff was born in 1895, to boot maker Richard and his wife, Ann. The family lived in Bethnal Green when the children were young, but by 1911, they had moved to 7 Chaucer Road in Wanstead. That same year, Reuben’s sister Violet died, aged just 23.
At the time of the 1911 census Reuben was sixteen years old and was working as an office worker with an architect and surveyors company.
Reuben enlisted early on in the war and joined the 8th Battalion, The Buffs, and East Kent Regiment.
Reuben arrived in France with his battalion on 1st September 1915 and after only a few short weeks they were thrown into an attack during the Battle of Loos in Belgium.
Reuben’s battalion attacked across a stretch of ‘No Man’s Land’ a mile wide. The men reached their objective despite coming under heavy machine gun fire, only to find that all the barbed wire in front of them was still intact.
They were machine gunned and shelled for four hours before they withdrew. The casualties were staggering with 24 officers and 610 other ranks killed, wounded or missing. The battalion was virtually wiped out within three weeks of landing in France.
Reuben was one of 60,000 British men who died at the Battle of Loos. Queen Elizabeth II’s maternal uncle, Fergues Bowes Lyon, Rudyard Kipling’s son, John, and the poet Charles Sorley were also among the dead.
Reuben, aged 20, was killed in action on 26th September 1915, but his body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, which lists the names of 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave.
Research by Wanstead United Reformed Church
Commonwealth War Graves Commission