A piece of West Norfolk history will go under the hammer at Bonhams in London at the end of the month.
The Victorian silver cup, presented to Sandringham Land Agent Capt Frank Beck who led his company at Gallipoli during the First World War, is due to be auctioned on Tuesday, January 28 and is expected to sell for between £500 and £600.
Capt Beck inherited his father’s position on the King’s estate, serving as Land Agent at Sandringham from 1891 to 1914.
In 1908, at Edward VII’s request, Beck was instrumental in the formation of the Sandringham Company of Volunteers, which included household staff from the King’s estates.
Despite his age and a marked reluctance from King George V to let him go, he volunteered for foreign service after the outbreak of war. He served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli, on the coast of Turkey leading his company during the attack on Anafarta on August 12, 1915.
The company vanished during heavy fighting with the Turks and exactly what happened to them is still a mystery.
Queen Alexandra, Edward VII’s widow, took a particular interest in establishing what had happened to the men, many of whom had been her employees.
A legend suggested they had disappeared in a massive cloud of unknown, supposedly supernatural, origin.
However, after the Armistice, 180 bodies were found scattered over an area of about one square mile, around 800 yards behind the front line.
Capt Beck is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and with a brass plaque in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham. He and the 18 other men from the company who died at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli are commemorated on the Sandringham war memorial cross and in West Newton parish church.
The 1999 television film All the Kings Men depicts the formation of the Sandringham Company, its fate, and Beck’s role with Beck being portrayed by Sir David Jason.
The silver cup, made in Sheffield in 1984 by Roberts & Belk, is described as a tapering bowl inscribed: “1895 English Seed Barley R. Liebmann’s Prize Awarded to Frank Beck Sandringham Norfolk.”