November 2016

Nicknamed ‘The Salamanda’ by Churchill for his love of fire and astonishing ability to survive, Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg (#3174 on the family tree) was honoured last week, on 5th November, 100 years to the day after he was awarded the last Victoria Cross of the Somme. Out in front he led his battalion in the capture of Beaucourt-sur-l’Ancre, storming through heavy enemy machine-gun fire and through enemy trenches. Despite having been wounded four times he refused to leave the battlefield until he had issued final instructions to his men demonstrating what the London Gazette cited as his ‘personality, valour and utter contempt of danger’.

His memory was honoured with a blue plaque at his childhood home, 8 Dynevor Road in Richmond unveiled at a special ceremony attended by his descendants and the High Commissioner of New Zealand. As a part of the ceremony a commemorative paving stone outside Richmond Station was also unveiled by the Mayor of Richmond and the present Lord Freyberg (#2401). One minute’s silence was observed, Last Post was played and a wreath was laid by Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry who himself received a Victoria Cross for bravery in Iraq in 2004.

Bernard Freyberg was arguably the most wounded man in the British Army; it is said that barely an inch of his body remained unscathed which sadly led to some ill health. Despite this he was a most successful Governor-General of New Zealand from 1945 until 1952 and later Lieutenant-Governor and Deputy-Constable of Windsor Castle. The Trust has written previously about the 1st Baron Freyberg in January 2009.

All pictures Crown Copyright

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