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Regimental Museum (Brecon)

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The Men Who Died



Stephen was born on January 16th, 1889 in Brecon, being the third eldest son of Charles and Julia Best.  At school in Christ College

between 1900 and 1906 he was quiet and steady, and won respect and affection. After school he secured a good Civil Service appointment in Edinburgh, then in 1912 started studying law at Edinburgh University, joining their Officer Training Corps in 1913. In August 1914, Stephen returned to Brecon, becoming an officer cadet in the Brecknocks and gazetted as second lieutenant in October 1914, alongside his brother Frank.  They       

27                28

On the day he died, the 4th Battalion, alongside the Cheshires, took part in an attack on Turkish forces but lack of communication led to Stephen and his men being cut off. They continued to fight and attempted to capture an enemy battery, but were eventually overwhelmed by the Turks.

Stephen fell alongside about 30 other men.

Extracts from a letter of May 1917, from Lieutenant Colonel C E Kitchen commanding the South Wales Borderers in Mesopotamia, can be read with interest:

‘I must take the opportunity of telling you how splendid the men of the Brecknocks who have been attached to us have done in all the fighting ...... the death of both the Bests … was a very sad blow.  Stephen Best and [others] were both killed in the last fight we had.  Stephen had apparently captured some Turkish guns, which unfortunately, through no fault of the Regiment, were retaken by the enemy. His body, together with those of 30 men, were found round the guns, and there was ample evidence that they made the Turks pay dearly.’

Lieutenant Stephen Wriothesley Best

South Wales Borderers, Brecknock Battalion

Killed in Action in Mesopotamia on April 30th, 1917,
aged 28

Commemorated at the Basra War Memorial, Iraq

served together in Aden, India and Mesopotamia and were not long divided in death.

Having fought with the Brecknocks in Aden, Stephen went with them to Mhow in India in 1915. He was made lieutenant in August 1916.

In early 1917, Stephen, his brother Frank and about 140 men left to join the 4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers in Mesopotamia; Frank died in February but Stephen fought in numerous battles.