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Major Lumsden

Major Lumsden Major Frederick William Lumsden DSO* RMA At the age of forty four, Frederick William Lumsden was the oldest Royal Marine to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). Born on 14 December 1872, he joined the Royal Marine Artillery as a Second Lieutenant on 1 September 1890. After service afloat he returned to attended Staff College, specialising in signalling, gunnery, and musketry. He graduated in 1907 and went to Germany where he studied the language for six months to obtain a First Class Interpreters Certificate.

In 1915, he was appointed to command the Royal Marine Artillery Howitzer Brigade, that consisting of twelve 15” howitzers, but whilst in France he took up an appointment as General Staff Officer on the First Army staff.

On 2 April 1917 as part of a general attack of 14th Brigade against the Germans in the Holnon Wood sector, the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment captured a battery of six M1916 77mm field guns, south east of Francilly, but had suffered fifty-percent casualties and could not hold or remove the guns. The German retreat managed to evacuate the remaining artillery in the area, with the exception of this battery.

On the night of 3 April Major Lumsden was placed in charge of a party from the 15th Highland Light Infantry and some Royal Artillery gunners with limbers and horses, to bring in the guns. Personally leading three sorties under barrage and machine gun fire, he successfully brought back all the guns, having to drive the Germans back from recapturing the final gun in the process. For his bravery and devotion to duty he was awarded the VC on 8 June 1917 that he received from King George V the following month.

Just under a year later he was shot through the head in a forward trench and is now buried in Berles New Military Cemetery, France. Quite apart from the bravery recognised for his VC, Major Lumsden also earned the Distinguished Service Order with three bars before his death.

On 25th July 1920 the memorial to Brigadier General Lumsden was unveiled at Eastney, and is now in the Museums’ memorial garden. The Museum purchased the medals in April 1973.