Cobbwebs News & Views

Here the Trust provides News & Views that are of interest to the family and to a wider audience.  They can be downloaded as PDF documents. 

Cobbwebs stay in this section for up to 6 months. Thereafter they go to the Cobbwebbs Archive.

Cobbwebs News & Views

Page 3 of 17


As No. 2 in the Cobbold & Kin series the Trust has published Elizabeth Cobbold, Georgian Polymath a biography of one of the most famous Cobbolds of all time, by Adele Mallen.  For those who are new to the family Elizabeth Cobbold (1765-1824) #58 on the web family tree was the second wife of ‘Big’ John Cobbold, 3rd generation brewer at The Cliff, Ipswich.    John is well nicknamed ‘Big’ not only for his astute growing of the family business for some 60 years but also for his procreation of 15 children with his first wife.  His second Elizabeth gave him another 7 making 22 in total!  Apart from taking on 15 stepchildren and adding another 7 herself Elizabeth was a remarkable lady as readers of the biography will discover.

Dr Kate Kennedy, Writer and Broadcaster, Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing says:

This is a sensitively written and meticulously researched biography.  Its great affinity with its subject shines through, bringing to life a woman who should be remembered as one of those who set the precedent for women taking an active part in the arts and sciences.  Elizabeth Cobbold, contemporary of Jane Austen, proved that women could take the stage in public life, be creative and respected for it.  Novelist, poet, artist and scientist, she was also known for her philanthropy.  This faithful account of her story helps to place her alongside the scant female contemporaries of whom we have heard, and nuance the general assumption that only a very few women could make their mark in the 1700s.

Adele Mallen has an interest in eighteenth century literature and has published articles on this period.  She has been particularly drawn to the life of Elizabeth Cobbold who she regards as a highly talented lady, who like so many other women of the time appears to have been disregarded in history.  Adele feels that a re-examination of Elizabeth’s contribution to the feminist position at this time is long overdue.


The Trust is pleased to have acquired the following:

  • ‘The Furniture of Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich’ by Paul Brice, 2019 published by Gresham Publications in association with the Friends of Ipswich Museums,
  • Six contract notes dated 1946/47 in the name of T G Witt Esq. totalling about £1700 issued by A. H. Cobbold & Co of Southampton.  This stockbroker was founded in 1892 by Augustus Hills Cobbold (1854-1931) #281 on the web family tree and the firm was joined by Charles Eden Tatton Brown (1910-1990) #1925 in 1930.  Although Augustus died in 1931, Charles’ name was still on the letterhead in 1946/47

The Trust would like to thank very warmly all those who have generously donated, to mark its 15th birthday.  About 5% of the ‘Friends’ have responded so far.  To be honest this needs to be 10% if we are to meet our target so if anyone is considering donating, please would they do so as soon as possible?  Thank you.

The Trust would also like to thank the following, in no particular order, who have rendered help in one form or another:

Charles Cahan, Sharon Sawyer, Chris Heath, Shirley Fowley, Anne Hasted, Belinda Hasted, Tony Robson, Michael Gibbs, Anthony Johnson, Christine Lee and Rowell Bell.  

CHRISTMAS 2019December 2019

The Trust wishes you, your family and all our friends a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a fulfilling 2020

Whilst writing we would like to introduce the latest ‘Cobbold’ book: Cobbold’s Wortham – The Portrait of a Victorian Village.

The Reverend Richard Cobbold was Rector of Wortham, a small rural village in Suffolk for 50 years during the 19th century. In 1860, he decided to create an original book as a gift for his wife Mary Ann. Features of Wortham was the result – a small, beautifully bound volume of original watercolours and writings. Cobbold was a competent amateur artist and spent the late spring and early summer of 1860 painting views of every corner of his parish. To accompany the delicate paintings, he wrote charming descriptions of the inhabitants of the cottages, pubs, mansions, farmhouses, workshops and other buildings.

This book contains all 111 watercolours from the original book in full colour. Each painting is accompanied by a transcription of Cobbold’s records and a description. The whole gives a fascinating insight into life in Victorian rural England and is a treasure trove of interest for those who love the English countryside and the history of its past and its people.

Cover image: Old Judy Fullers Cot and Tinker Jolly’s Shop.

RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 ...1st November 2019

A party of Cobbolds (nameless in case anyone left work to bury a grandmother who just happened to die during the World Cup!) were enthusiastic fans helping England get to the final.  Many have stayed on for the final tomorrow having sent their older generation beautiful post cards including one of Mount Fuji.

This reminded the older generation of the story of the first ascent of Mount Fusiyama (as it was then spelled) by a lady.  Lilian Hope Cobbold (1872-1946) #259 on the web family tree wrote to The Times in 1932 following the ascent of the Eiger from the Mittellegi Hut to say that her mother Lady Parkes nee Plumer (1832-1897) #850 was the first lady to ascend Mount Fusiyama on the 7th and 8th of October 1867.  She received a gold bracelet “Presented to Lady Parkes by Capt. W Shaw 73rd Regiment and others as a slight remembrance of a very pleasant trip across Fusiyama, and also to commemorate the first ascent of the mountain by a lady” to the amazement of the Japanese in their pre-westernised days.

So, from an ascent 152 years ago to the present day we wish England World Cup success tomorrow. 


The Trust is pleased to have acquired the following:

  • A signed black & white print (483mm x 350mm) of the Hon John Collier’s portrait of Felix Thornley Cobbold which hangs in Christchurch Mansion.  This, together with a number of other items was the gift of Michael Cobbold (#1849) of California during his recent visit.
  • ‘The Road to Grantchester’ by James Runcie #3786, the gift of the Keeper

The Trust is grateful for the above gifts and to those listed below (in no particular order) who have helped the Trust or provided valuable information:

Lady Kenya Tatton-Brown and Charlotte Appleby, R & J Bell, Caroline Philp, Charlotte Paterson, Nicky Hibbin, Phil Mansell, Vanessa Griffith, Christine Lee, Robin Doughty, Debra Cartwright, Jane Dismore, Peter Le Marchand, Stephen Hottinger, John Newell, Leslie Rhodes, Philip Hill, Neville Cobbold, Anne Mott, Kim Cobbold, Andrew Bassett-Smith, Libby Glover and Frazer Simpson.


Cobbold Gorge in Queensland is one of Australia’s hot tourist attractions.  It just got a lot hotter by the building of a glass bridge which spans the gorge.  Readers will remember that the gorge is named after F E COBBOLD (1853-1935) #223 on the web tree.  He left home in Suffolk at 14 and went to sea despite the opportunity to work in the family brewing business.  He escaped the cannibals’ cook pot in Fiji and survived one of the worst hurricanes in living memory to settle in Australia, initially as a surveyor and later as a station manager.  Despite problems that would have defeated less resolute men he became a trusted station manager and later one of Australia’s great pioneering pastoralists.  Amongst others, one of the stations he managed was Robin Hood Station beside which the gorge lies and this probably accounts for its name.   Admired by fellow bushmen, trusted by bankers, his gritty determination earned him a small fortune which he gave away.  After provision for his wife his fortune went to the Royal United Kingdom Beneficent  Association, now called Independent Age.  It was their biggest ever legacy and has been carefully nurtured ever since.

The glass bridge is the first ever constructed with an entirely glass surface, 9.5 metres long with a bottom deck that is 4.5 centimetres thick and provides visitors with a whole new 360-degree view of the whole gorge and the surrounding outback.  The gorge is Australia’s youngest gorge being formed only 1700 million years ago from compacted Hampstead Sandstone.  The opening of the glass bridge this month further enhances this multi-award winning outback experience.  A visit was highly recommended before the bridge arrived – now it is an absolute ‘must’.

(Pictures 2 & 3 courtesy Tourism Events Queensland)

MICHAEL COBBOLD of California, USAOctober 2019

The Trust met up with Michael Cobbold (born 1953) #1849 and his son Benson (born 1983) #3458 from California for 3 days in Ipswich recently.  Until retirement Michael was Safety Officer for the Denali National Park in Alaska following a lifetime’s work for the USDA Forestry Service.  Benson is a fully qualified Intensive Care Nurse having graduated from Sacramento State University in 2007.  In the course of his duties Michael took a photograph of Mount McKinley which was adopted by Alaskan Post Cards of Anchorage.  Mount McKinley (named after US Presidential Candidate William McKinley in 1896 but now officially known as ‘Denali’) is the highest mountain peak in North America at 20,310 feet, and the 3rd highest in the world after Mount Everest and Aconcagua.  It is the centre piece of Denali National Park.

Michael is the elder son of Jaime (James or Jim) Walter Cobbold (1925-2007) #1845 who was an avid collector of Cobbold memorabilia and became one of the Trust’s earliest and most generous donors.  Sadly, he and his lovely wife, Elsa are both dead now but after Jim died Elsa told me how relieved Jim was to have found the Trust to be the perpetual guardian of his precious collection.  Michael has continued the tradition by giving to the Trust, inter alia, a fine print of the famous Hon, John Collier portrait of Felix Thornley Cobbold which hangs in the Great Hall at Christchurch Mansion.  Readers will remember that the portrait was paid for by public subscription to show appreciation for the gift of Christchurch to the Borough of Ipswich.


The Trust is delighted to have acquired a copy of “Voyage to New Zealand Under Sail in the Early Forties” by Alfred Fell (1817-1871) #6461 on the web family tree.  Our copy was purchased in New Zealand and was previously in the Palmerston North Public Library.  The  foreword, which is by his son Sir Arthur Fell (1850-1934) #4583 who was MP for Great Yarmouth from 1906 to1922, was signed off on 12th October 1926.

The voyage in the teak-built Lord Auckland under the command of Captain Jardine left Gravesend on September 25th 1841 and arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on February 8th 1842.  Alfred was one of 15 cabin passengers who sailed with 60 married folk, 21 single men, 19 single women, 5 widows and 50 children.  The crew comprised 1 captain, 3 mates, 26 seamen, 4 boys, 1 carpenter, 1 butcher, 1 black cook, 1 surgeon with an assistant and 1 steward with 3 assistants; a total of around 220 souls.  At the start of the voyage their fresh food was provided by a number of live pigs, geese, ducks and other fouls.  The plan of the Lord Auckland (between decks) gives the layout.

Towards the end of the book Alfred gives some advice to would-be travellers.  “If you know any cabin passengers coming out a few suggestions may be useful as well.  I would by all means choose the poop cabins as more light and airy, and the larboard side in preference to the starboard; on an outward-bound voyage it is generally the weather side; you can therefore open your port and you have fresh air blowing in,  In the warmer latitudes this is a great comfort, and in the more cold ones I prefer it infinitely.  In fitting up the cabins I would advise all bed berths to be fixed fore and aft and not more than 2 ft. wide, to prevent rolling about.  These, from experience, are much better than cots or hammocks; the furniture and boxes should, before starting, be firmly lashed with cords and cleated to the ground, to prevent their knocking about.  I have had a deal of trouble with mine, through their not being fastened at first.

A quantity of good water in bottles will be found a great luxury, particularly in the tropics, when I would have given anything for a glass of pure water, and above everything I would have a small filter.  From the commencement of the voyage until off Madeira, warm clothing is required, then light trousers and jackets with straw hats are indispensable.  After you have passed the tropics warm clothing is required right away to New Zealand.  You cannot have too much linen.  A candlestick with a glass shade is requisite to suspend, with a lot of sperm candles.  A metal footbath is useful for many things, as well as a water-can or two.  By attending to a few little comforts like these, and living in harmony with each other, the voyage to New Zealand, although a long one, nevertheless to a young person may be rendered a very agreeable period of existence.”

SILKEN STRANDSSeptember 2019

The Trust is very sad to report the deaths of four family:

  • Michael Cobbold (1940-2019) #520 who died on 17th July. Michael was an enormous help, and accompanied  Anthony Cobbold when visiting Cobbold Gorge in Queensland, Australia in 2011.
  • Owen Duffy (1932-2019) #3264 who died on 29th July. Owen was an enthusiastic supporter of the Trust and always visited us when he was in this country from New Zealand.
  • Mike Cavanagh (1945-2019) #9184 who died 18th August. Mike was a much loved ‘forever-partner to Prim Cobbold #522 who always visited and donated photographs to the Trust when they were here from Brisbane, Australia.
  • Anna Lou Little (1938-2019) #769 who died on 11th August. Anna Lou owner the cottage on Kirkland Lake, Ontario which once belonged to C C Farr (1851-1914) #266

The Trust sends heart felt condolences to their families and friends.

The Trust is pleased to have acquired:

  • The Roughshooter’s Dog by Michael Brander (1924-2011) #9148.  Michael served with the 10th Hussars in WWII, in North Africa and Italy.  He was a prolific author and much of his work is in the Scottish Archives.
  • A Photograph of the wedding of Lady Hermione Lytton (1905-2004) #491 and Cameron Cobbold – later Baron Cobbold (1904-1987) at St. Mary’s, Knebworth on 3rd April 1930
  • A letter signed by Gordon Chevallier Cobbold (1903-2004) #337 who raced motor cycles at Brooklands from 1923 to 1930, holding no less than 16 records and was awarded the Gold Star in 1926.

The Trust would like to warmly thank the following Donors:

  • Caroline Taylor for funds which allowed it to buy a fine oil on canvas portrait of Lt. Hill-Lowe (see Cobbweb for August 2019);
  • Virginia van der Lande for a copy of ‘The life and Times of John Cumming Anderson (1825-1870) and his Family’ – a most comprehensive volume of 255 pages plus a further 150 pages of appendices; and for the July 2007 copy of The Linnean Newsletter containing an article by John Marsden on Parasitology based largely on the work of Thomas Spencer Cobbold and his grandmother, Elizabeth Cobbold;
  • Caroline Markham for the August edition of ‘Down to Earth’ the journal of Geology containing her letter about Elizabeth Cobbold;
  • David Taylor for a fine Victorian Photograph Album and numerous papers and photos of the family of Rev. Edward Davy Cobbold;
  • Kenya Tatton-Brown for sundry papers and photographs of the Kitchener family;

And many others for help and family information (in no particular order) including Chris and Jeannie Cobbold, Rosemary Barry, David Mitchell, Laurie Forth, Stuart Hayward, Jordan Cassidy, Simon Wrigley, Rowell Bell, Edward Lipscombe, Suzanne Milne, Christiana Hambro, Gareth Scott, Alison Mildon, Bryan Cobbold, Monica Bell, Teresa Crompton, Peter Howard, Charlotte Appleby, Belinda McPherson and Giles Ingham.

Thank you all.


It is widely known that Francis Edward Cobbold (1853-1935) #233, (generally known as ‘FE’), after providing for his wife Beatrice (Bea) Sarah Child (1869-1951) #225, left a legacy of life-changing proportions to what was then the Royal United Kingdom Beneficent Association (RUKBA), now Independent Age.  The charity invested the money wisely abiding by FE’s stipulation that only the interest should be used and then for helping old folk stay in their homes.  ‘The effect of this magnificent legacy on the development of the activities of the Association can hardly be over-emphasised,’ wrote Sir John Maude.

What is not so widely known, and the Trust has only just discovered, is that FE, one of Australia’s great pioneering pastoralists, also endowed two cottages for the Old Colonists Association of Victoria.  OCAV is a leading not-for-profit provider of independent living, and assisted living & aged care in Victoria founded in 1869 by a crop of prominent Melbourne leaders which included George Selth Coppin.  Celebrating their 150th anniversary this year the Association has 4 villages: Lieth Park in St. Helena, Braeside Park in Berwick , Rushall Park in North Fitzroy, and Currie Park in Euroa.

The Trust is grateful to Ruth Richardson for a photograph of Nos. 6 and 7 Henty Avenue, Rushall Park, which are the two ‘Cobbold’ cottages built in 1930 of grey limestone brick with tiled roof with a little spire atop, endowed by FE and his wife in memory of his sister, Sarah Jane Cobbold (1841-1918) #227.

LT. A. N. O. P. HILL-LOWEAugust 2019

Due to the generosity of Caroline Taylor #638 on the web family tree, the Trust has been able to acquire a fine oil on canvas portrait of Lt. Arthur Norman Ommanney Peter Hill-Lowe 1920-1943 #14050.  Dated 1949 the artist, who used the monogram GR or CR is, as yet, unidentified.  The Trust is most grateful to Caroline.

Lt. Hill-Lowe was born in Tenbury, Worcestershire in 1920 and enlisted in the Royal Armoured Corps on 25th August, 1939.  He was appointed to an Emergency Commission as a 2nd. Lt. in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards on 27th July 1940 and was posted to the 57th Training Regiment on 19th July 1842.  He embarked for the Middle East to join 3rd Hussars later that month and arrived in Egypt on 21st September.  He was killed in a train crash near Aleppo, Syria on 3rd February 1943.

He came from a distinguished military family.  His father was Captain Arthur Noel Vernon Hill-Lowe (1892-1964) #14048, North Irish Horse and Shropshire Yeomanry, who was the son of Commander Arthur Hill Ommanney Peter Hill-Lowe RN 1849-1910 #14046 who was in turn the son of Admiral Arthur Lowe (1814-1882) #1016.  Admiral Lowe’s father-in-law was Sir John Acworth Ommanney (1773-1855).

On Wednesday 3rd February the Aleppo to Pererat train had a head-on collision 80 km out.  27 soldiers including 3 officers were killed.  The following Sunday saw a big military funeral, each coffin on a 15cwt truck travelling through the town.  Beside the graves a firing party of 21 men fired a volley and the ‘Last Post’ was played in what was a very moving ceremony.  He is buried in the British War Cemetery in Aleppo, Syria in plot 2 at C3 which is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Hitherto the Trust has thought that four large albums of Elizabeth Cobbold (1765-1824) #58 paper-cut Valentines were prepared, one for each of Elizabeth’s four boys, Robert Knipe (1792-1859) #100Charles (1793-1859) #102Richard (1797-1877) #106 and Edward (1798-1860) #108; each containing Valentines produced from 1816 onwards.  Of these, Richard’s album is in the Trust and Charles’ album is in safe family hands but on loan to the Trust for research purposes.  The other two were broken up by an antique dealer and sold off as framed pictures.  Over the years the Trust has acquired two more small and rather crude albums containing Valentines for 1810 and 1813.

Recently two more mid-sized albums have come to light dedicated to Robert Knipe, her eldest son; one bearing the date 1812 and the other 1813.  They are in safe family hands but have satisfactorily broadened our knowledge.  Volume two tells us that Valentines for 1809-10-11 were owned by the Rushbrooke family.  We know that Elizabeth stopped cutting Valentines in 1822 but we did not know she had produced any before 1810.

We do not know exactly how the Valentines were distributed at the time, but this much we do know: there were Ladies Valentines and Gentlemen’s Valentines; up to eighty were cut in a single year; normally a verse was composed for each; they were placed in separate baskets and brought into the party when it was well under way.  Every unmarried guest was invited to come and pick a Valentine from the appropriate basket.  The verses were read out to the assembled company and often much mirth ensued.  There was undoubtedly some match-making going on and we know of one case where romance and marriage resulted.

Prior to 1814 when the family moved into Holywells the Valentine parties were held at the Cliff and at that time the event was known as a Lottery, a term confirmed in the earlier albums.  The Valentines preserved in these albums were duplicates of those distributed.  One account says that they were cut from multiple sheets of paper but this would not have been as easy as it sounds.  They were cut with scissors using a technique, Scherenschnitte, learned from Germany.


The Trust is very sad to report the death of two family members both of whom were keen supporters of the Trust and its work.

  • Jan Talbot #670 died aged 90 and Martin Riley died aged 75, both on 24th June 2019.  We send our condolences to their families and friends.

The Trust is pleased to have been given two interesting items for the Archive:

  • Mrs Delia Golding donated a leather-bound, gilt-edged subscription book “St. Clement’s Church” which was presented by the parishioners to Churchwarden William Harvey Orvis on 25th January 1909 expressing their sympathy for his illness and wishing him a speedy recovery.
  • Mr Steven Painton donated a panel of ceramic tiles from the hall floor of Brownhill House, near Southampton together with a number of photographs prior to it being demolished for housing.  Brownhill House, built in 1867, was the home of Augustus Hills Cobbold from 1896 until his death in 1931.  Five of his grandchildren were born in the house.

The Trust is grateful for help given, often with family tree information, by (in no particular order):

Gareth Scott, Brian Graham, Ruth Richardson, Clare, Rosalyn Davies, Rob & Cheryl Phare, Carolyn Anthony, Sally Patrick, Michael Gibbs, William Oswald, Malcolm Puttick, Annemarie Josey, Ian Welch, Paul O’Brien, Simon Toynbee, Charles Marment, Nick Moger, Simon Bentley and Tim Riley.


The generous gift of Delia Golding, the Trust has acquired a lovely leather-bound, gilt-edged subscription book which was presented by the parishioners to Churchwarden William Harvey Orvis on 25th January 1909 expressing their sympathy for his illness and wishing him a speedy recovery.  The dedication was endorsed by the Rector, the Curate, the other Churchwarden and over 200 parishioners

A personal message is added by a signatory “H.L. Ipswich (designate of Stepney)”.  This entry is not understood and if anyone can explain, we would love to hear from them.

There are 5 Cobbold signatories:

Adela Harriette Cobbold (1837-1917) #187.  John Patteson’s widow.

Evelyn Anna Cobbold (1873-1959). #322.  Adela’s daughter and wife of Herbert St. George Cobbold

John Dupuis Cobbold (1861-1925) #307.  Adela’s eldest son.

Winifred Evelyn Cobbold (1892-1965) #450.  John Dupuis’s daughter aged 17.

John Murray Cobbold (1897-1944)

 #448.  John Dupuis’s only son aged 12.


Without question the Trust’s most important acquisition this month is a silver Princess Christian’s Army Nursing Service Reserve badge (No. 211) worn by Sister Theodosia Agnes Cobbold during service in the Boer War.  She is #1893 on the web family tree.

Other acquisitions include:

  • The Complete George Cross by Kevin Brazier
  • Swefling Rebecca Cobbold, a novel by Barbara Grantham Hicks
  • Twenty-Five Shades of Graves by Jeremy Cobbold
  • An article from the Intellectual Observer 1863 on The Portuguese Man-of-War by H Noel Humphreys
  • Three articles from the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science 1862 & 1865 on Gyrodactylus Elegans, Entozoa and Coenurus by T Spencer Cobbold (#174).
  • A large package of miscellaneous Tolly Cobbold ephemera including an album of advertisements.

The Trust is grateful for help given, often with family tree information, by (in no particular order):


Geoffrey Elborn, Hamish Thoms, Derek Wilson, Ruth Richardson, Geoffrey Buchler, Clare O’Keefe, Carolyn Anthony, Simon Watson and Brian Graham.  Please accept apologies for anyone omitted inadvertently.

6. John Sedgwick Gregson GC (1924-2...June 2019

“John Gregson won the George Cross for saving the life of a shipmate during a torpedo attack in the Mediterranean in 1942. Gregson was serving as an apprentice on the 'Deucalion', a merchant vessel of 7,500 tons. The ship was one of a convoy of 14 that left Gibraltar an August 10th 1942 with the object of breaking through to the beleaguered island fortress of Malta with much needed food and fuel supplies.

 But after being attacked by two Heinkel torpedo bombers, the Deucalion was hit on the starboard quarter; one of the holds burst into flames and the order was given to abandon ship. Lifeboats were being lowered and the blaze was spreading rapidly when one of the AA gunners was found pinned down under a raft. Gregson helped to get the gunner free but the man had sustained severe injuries and when it proved impossible to get him into a boat or on to a raft there was no alternative but to drop him overboard. Gregson dived into the sea after him but, in the darkness, he could not find a life boat so he towed him a distance of about 600 yards to a ship which picked them up. The citation stated:

 "But for Apprentice Gregson's gallant action undertaken with complete disregard of his own safety, the injured man would have had little chance of survival".

Gregson was invested with the Albert Medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on March 30th 1943. In 1971 when the Albert Medal was revoked by Royal Warrant Gregson elected to keep the original medal he received from the King, rather than exchange it for the George Cross. Amongst his other medals, he also held the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery in Saving Life at Sea. This medal was instituted by Lloyds of London in 1940 to be awarded to officers and men of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets for exceptional gallantry at sea in wartime.

John Sedgwick Gregson GC (1924-2016) #10872 on the web family tree

5. Lt. Cdr. Malcolm David Wanklyn V...June 2019

We can do no better than to reprint our Cobbweb of August 2017

“The ship and her company are gone, but the example and the inspiration remain.”

Thus wrote Their Lordships of The Admiralty (unusually) when reporting that H M Submarine UPHOLDER (Lieutenant Commander M D Wanklyn VC DSO** RN) had been lost. It was April 1942.

Under the command of David Wanklyn UPHOLDER’S first war patrol was from Portsmouth to Gibraltar early in 1941. Thereafter Mediterranean patrols typically lasted 2 to 3 weeks with 10 days between to refuel and rearm in Malta. These supposed rest periods were frequently interrupted by air-raids upon which UPHOLDER dived to the bottom of the harbour. In a little under 12 months Malcolm David Wanklyn and his crew were credited with sinking over 93,000 tons of enemy shipping and damaging a further 34,000 tons.

The sinking of ‘Conte Rosse.’ This attack was to earn Wanklyn the award of the Victoria Cross, the first awarded to a submariner in World War II. Here is the citation:

On the evening of 24th May 1941, whilst on patrol off the coast of Sicily, Lieutenant-Commander Wanklyn in command of His Majesty’s Submarine UPHOLDER, sighted a southbound enemy troop convoy, strongly escorted by destroyers. The failing light was such that observation by periscope could not be relied on, but a surface attack would have been easily seen. UPHOLDER’S listening gear was out of action. In spite of these handicaps, Lt. Cdr. Wanklyn decided to press home his attack at short range. He quickly steered his craft into a favourable position and closed in so as to make sure of his target. By this time the whereabouts of the escorting destroyers could not be made out. Lt. Cdr. Wanklyn, while fully aware of the risk of being rammed by one of the escort, continued to press on towards the enemy troopships. As he was about to fire, one of the enemy destroyers suddenly appeared out of the darkness at high speed and he only just avoided being rammed. As soon as he was clear he brought his periscope sights on and fired torpedoes, which sank a large troopship. The enemy destroyers at once made a strong counter-attack and during the next 20 minutes dropped 37 depth charges near UPHOLDER. The failure of his listening device made it much harder for him to get away, but with the greatest courage, coolness and skill he brought UPHOLDER clear of the enemy and safe back to harbour.

David Wanklyn was the Royal Navy’s top submarine ace, the most successful submariner in the Western Allied Navies and the most highly decorated Royal Navy hero of the second World War.

Lt. Cdr. Malcolm David Wanklyn VC, DSO** RN (1911-1942) #9837 on the web family tree

4. Lt. Cdr. Patrick Noel Humphreys ...June 2019

Patrick went to Britannia Royal Naval College in 1926.  Although the United Kingdom was, of course, neutral in the Spanish Civil War, Lieutenant Humphreys was serving on board H.M.S. Hunter on the 13th. May 1937, when it was mined off Almeira. This caused an explosion underneath the Stoker Petty Officers' and Torpedomens' Mess Decks, and the ladder was blown away. In order to reach the ratings on these decks, Lieutenant Humphreys and four others under his command had to jump down eight feet, into three feet of oil fuel. Although Humphreys and the other four were in danger of falling through the shattered mess decks, they dragged both living and dead out from the wreckage and the oil fuel. Some of the rescued had swallowed oil fuel, others were severely burned, and all would have died if they had not been rescued so quickly. Lieutenant Humphreys was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal for this deed. When the George Cross was inaugurated, on the 24th. September 1940, his E.G.M. was exchanged for the new medal. Before the Second World War broke out, Humphreys joined the Fleet Air Arm. He took part in the raid on the Italian fleet at Taranto, and was mentioned in dispatches. in 1942, he was appointed to form and command the first Fleet Air Arm night fighter squadron. Unfortunately, the next year, he was killed in a take-off crash from West Malling Airfield in Kent. The inscription at the base of his gravestone, "They shall mount up with wings as eagles", is taken from the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 40, Verse 31.

Sadly, no image of Patrick is available at present.  He is buried in Plot CC1, Grave 108 in Maidstone Cemetery, Kent.


Lt. Cdr. Patrick Noel Humphreys GC, RN (1913-1943) #1961 on the web family tree

3. Dudley Graham Johnson VC, CB, DS...June 2019

Dudley served with the 3rd Wiltshire Regiment during the second Boer War transferring to the South Wales Borderers on 4th July 1903 where he was Adjutant from 1909 to 1912.  Serving in China with 2nd Bn. at the outbreak of WWI, he was awarded the DSO for his actions on the night of the 5th/6th November 1914 in Tsing-tau, China.  The citation was posted in the London Gazette on 16th March 1915.  He then saw service in Egypt and Gallipoli from March to June 1915.

He joined The Royal Sussex Regiment in November 1916 and was the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Bn. from March 1918 until April 1919.  He was awarded the MC on 1st January 1918.  It was during the assault on the Sambre Canal on 4th November 1918 (a week before the Armistice) that he was to perform the action which led to the award of the Victoria Cross.

The 2nd Infantry Brigade, of which 2nd Bn. Royal Sussex formed part, was ordered to cross the lock south of Catellon.  The position was strong and before the bridge could be thrown, a steep bank leading up to the lock and a waterway about 100 yards short of the canal had to be crossed.  The assaulting platoons and bridging parties, Royal Engineers, on their arrival at the waterway were thrown into confusion by a heavy barrage and machine gun fire, and heavy casualties were caused.

At this moment Lt. Col. Johnson arrived and realising the situation at once collected men to man the bridges and assist the Royal Engineers and personally led the assault.  In spite of his efforts heavy fire again broke up the assaulting and bridging parties.  Without any hesitation he again organised the platoons and bridging parties and led them at the lock, this time succeeding in effecting a crossing after which all went well.  During all this time Lt. Col. Johnson was under heavy fire which, though it nearly decimated the assaulting columns, left him untouched.  His conduct was a fine example of great valour, coolness and intrepidity, which, added to his splendid leadership and offensive spirit that he had inspired in his Battalion, were entirely responsible for the successful crossing.

Dudley Graham Johnson VC, CB, DSO*, MC (1884-1975) #6128 on the web family tree. 

2. Bernard Cyril Freyberg VC, GCMG, ...June 2019

It is believed that in April 1914 Bernard Freyberg served as a Captain Volunteer with the Mexican Carrancistas during the Mexican Civil War.  He deserted in late July on hearing of the impending war in Europe, and with a price on his head, he hitchhiked to get a steamer for New York.  He eventually arrived in Liverpool on 24th August.  He caught a train for London in order to enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.  (He was born in Richmond, Surrey but brought up in New Zealand).  He was told that all officer places had been filled, and he was advised to try the newly formed Royal Naval Division.  He approached Winston Churchill, and gained his encouragement to win a temporary commission as a Lieutenant RNVR on 8th September 1914.  He was allocated to the Hood Battalion to command A Company.  He was known as ‘Khaki Jack’ as he arrived in khaki whereas most officers were still wearing naval blue.  His fellow officers in A Company were known as the ‘Argonauts’, and included Rupert Brooke.

Following training in Kent, they embarked to Dunkirk on 2nd October 1914, and then on to Antwerp.  Whilst in the trenches at Antwerp, Freyberg was severely burnt on the hand on the electrified barbed wire system.  He was hospitalised at Ostend before returning to Britain.  In March 1915 the battalion was deployed to Turkish waters around Gallipoli.  Following training at Port Said they prepared for the Gallipoli landings.  A platoon from A Company was to land and light flares at intervals along the beach to fool the Turks into thinking a full scale landing was happening.  Freyberg believed that it could be done with just one or two swimmers with less risk.  Freyberg’s request was turned down, but he made the swim alone and succeeded in his mission.  For his actions he was awarded the DSO.

During the Second Battle of Krithnia on 8th May he was wounded in the abdomen and evacuated.  He returned in mid-June and was appointed Temporary CO of the Hood Battalion.  He was wounded again on 25th July and was evacuated to Egypt until August.  He left the peninsular on 27th February 1916 to head for Marseilles and then England for ten weeks to recover from his wounds.  He went to France to rejoin the Battalion on 1st May and transferred to the Royal West Surrey Regiment as a Captain and Temporary Lieutenant Colonel on 19th May, but remained to command Hood Battalion.

On 13th November 1916 at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre, France, after Freyberg’s battalion had carried the initial attack through the enemy’s front system of trenches, he rallied and re-formed his own much disorganised men and some others, and led them on a successful assault of the second objective, during which he suffered two wounds, but remained in command and held his ground throughout the day and the following night.  When re-inforced the next morning he attacked and captured a strongly fortified village, taking 500 prisoners.  Though wounded twice more, the second time severely, Freyberg refused to leave the line until he had issued final instructions.

He was evacuated to London where he recovered for three months, and was gazetted for the Victoria Cross.  He returned to France in February 1917 and was appointed Temporary Brigadier-General and Commander 173rd Brigade from April to September 1917.  He was wounded in five places by a shell-burst during an attack on St. Julien, Ypres on 19th September and reverted to Major on relinquishing command on 15th November.

On 2nd January 1918 he received his VC from King George V at Buckingham Palace.

Bernard Cyril Freyberg VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO*** (1889-1963) #3174 on the web family tree


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