Frederick William Lumsden VC CB DSO***

b. 14/12/1872 Faizabad, India. d. 04/06/1918 Arras, France.

Frederick William Lumsden (1872-1918) was born at Fyzabad, India on 14th December 1872. His father was John James Foote Lumsden MA, born in Aberdeen. His father was part of the Indian Civil Service and held numerous appointments in various Districts as a magistrate and commissioner. Frederick’s mother was Margaret “Marguerite” Lowther nee Whyte, born in Meerut, India, and married John on 9th May 1863 at Agra. Frederick had five siblings, with all four brothers being born in Gorakhpur, India.

Frederick W Lumsden

Frederick was educated at The Gym, Old Aberdeen and Bristol Grammar School from 1886-1888. He then trained at the Royal Military College Sandhurst from 1888-1890 and was commissioned on 1st September 1890. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st September 1891. He acquired numerous qualifications in gunnery, torpedo, musketry, signalling, equitation and military law at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, HMS Excellent and in Army schools.

Frederick married in December 1894 to Mary Ellen Augusta Harward at Portsea, Hampshire. They had a daughter, May Sunbeam Violet Lumsden, born in 1895. On 17th December 1894 he embarked on the battleship HMS Nile and served in the Mediterranean and Malta. He joined the Ascension Island garrison on 20th January 1896 on the strength of HMS Penelope. He was promoted to Captain in June 1897 and served on HMS Resolution and HMS Formidable.

Frederick joined the Freemasons, initiated in the Navy Lodge on 17th May 1907. He was then a student at the Staff College, Camberley in 1908 and spent six months in Germany in 1909-1910, gaining a 1st Class Interpreter Certificate. From June 1910 he was GSO2 Straits Settlement Command Singapore until April 1914. He returned to Britain on 3rd June and served on HMS Illustrious, before commanding No 1 Howitzer in the Howitzer Brigade RMA and took it to France on 15th February 1915. On 19th April, he took command of the four guns of the Howitzer Brigade RMA. He was then appointed GSO3 HQ First Army on 27th July, Brigade Major 21st November and Staff Officer with Canadian Corps Troops on 27th November. He was awarded the DSO for his outstanding service and devotion to duty on 1st January 1917.

On 3rd-4th April 1917 at Francilly, six enemy field guns having been captured, it was necessary to leave them in dug-in positions, 300 yards in advance of the position held by our troops. The enemy kept the captured guns under heavy fire. Maj. Lumsden undertook the duty of bringing the guns into our lines. In order to effect this, he personally led four artillery teams and a party of infantry through the hostile barrage. As one of these teams sustained casualties, he left the remaining teams in a covered position, and, through very heavy rifle, machine gun and shrapnel fire, led the infantry to the guns. By force of example and inspiring energy he succeeded in sending back two teams with guns, going through the barrage with the teams of the third gun. He then returned to the guns to await further teams, and these he succeeded in attaching to two of the three remaining guns, despite rifle fire, which had become intense at short range, and removed the guns to safety. By this time the enemy, in considerable strength, had driven through the infantry covering points, and blown up the breach of the remaining gun. Maj. Lumsden then returned, drove off the enemy, attached the gun to a team and got it away.

He was gazetted for the VC on 8th June 1917, and was appointed to command 17th Highland Light Infantry, in order to qualify for command of a brigade. He was then awarded a Bar to his DSO for his actions near Fayet, France on 9th April 1917; he made a reconnaissance of an enemy position, moving over open ground under heavy fire, bringing back valuable information. He was awarded a second Bar to his DSO for his actions a day laterr, when he was in charge of a large reconnaissance party, he carried out the task allotted with conspicuous success, skilfully withdrawing the party at a critical time.

Frederick was presented with his VC and DSO with Two Bars by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. He was wounded on 2nd August and on the 30th August. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 25th October 1917. He was then awarded a 3rd Bar to his DSO for his actions on 2nd December 1917 around Volt Farm, Mallet Copse and Double Copse near Ypres during a large raid in which part of his Brigade formed the left flank in support of 97th Brigade; he led an assault on a group of seven pillboxes and conducted valuable reconnaissance.

He was appointed Companion of Bath on 3rd June 1918, and was Mentioned in Despatches eight times. He was also awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre on 14th September 1918. Sadly, Frederick did not survive the war. He was made temporary GOC of 32nd Division on 6th May 1918. On 4th June 1918 he was in the Brigade’s trenches at Blairville, near Arras when an enemy attack was imminent. Having moved into an exposed position to evaluate the situation, he was hit and killed by a sniper. He was buried in Berles New Military Cemetery. The Brigade was then taken over by a fellow VC, Lewis Pugh Evans.

In addition to his VC and DSO with Three Bars, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf and Belgian Croix de Guerre. The VC group was purchased by the Royal Marines Museum in April 1973, where it is held.






Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Plan.

Thomas Stewart – Image of the Lumsden VC Medal Group at Royal Marines Museum, Southsea.

Brian Drummond – Image of the Freemason’s Memorial, London.