Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg
Overview
 
Lieutenant-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg VC
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, GCMG
Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

, KCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, KBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 & Three Bars
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

 (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963), was a British-born New Zealand Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 recipient and soldier who later served as the seventh Governor-General of New Zealand
Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

.

A veteran of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

, he became an officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 during the First World War. Freyberg took part in the beach landings during the Gallipoli Campaign and the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War, later serving on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 where he was decorated with the Victoria Cross.
Encyclopedia
Lieutenant-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg VC
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, GCMG
Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

, KCB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

, KBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 & Three Bars
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

 (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963), was a British-born New Zealand Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 recipient and soldier who later served as the seventh Governor-General of New Zealand
Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

.

A veteran of the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

, he became an officer
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 during the First World War. Freyberg took part in the beach landings during the Gallipoli Campaign and the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War, later serving on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 where he was decorated with the Victoria Cross. He liked to be in the thick of action—Churchill called him "the Salamander" due to his love of fire.

During the Second World War, he commanded the New Zealand Expeditionary Force
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
The New Zealand Expeditionary Force was the title of the military forces sent from New Zealand to fight for Britain during World War I and World War II. Ultimately, the NZEF of World War I was known as the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force...

 in the Battle of Crete
Battle of Crete
The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

, the North African Campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 and the Italian Campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

. Freyberg was involved in defeat in the Battle of Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

, defeated again as the Allied commander in the Battle of Crete
Battle of Crete
The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

 and performed successfully commanding the New Zealand division in the North African
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, including the Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

.

In Italy, he was defeated again at the Second Battle of Cassino as a corps commander, but later relieved Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, and was first to enter Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

, where he successfully confronted Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

's Partisans. By the end of the Second World War, Freyberg had spent ten and a half years fighting the Germans.

Early life

Freyberg, born in Richmond, London, UK, moved to New Zealand with his parents at the age of two. He attended Wellington College
Wellington College (New Zealand)
Wellington College is a state secondary school for boys in Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand.-History:Wellington College opened in 1867 as Wellington Grammar School in Woodward Street, though Sir George Grey gave the school a deed of endowment in 1853. In 1874 it opened at its present...

 from 1897 to 1904.

A strong swimmer, he won the New Zealand 100-yards championship in 1906 and in 1910.

On 22 May 1911, he gained formal registration as a dentist. He worked as an assistant dentist in Morrinsville
Morrinsville
Morrinsville is a town in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island. The land for the town and surrounding farmland was purchased from Wirimu Tamehana,the king maker prior to the NZ land wars of the 1860s. The land then was very swampy...

 and later practised in Hamilton
Hamilton, New Zealand
Hamilton is the centre of New Zealand's fourth largest urban area, and Hamilton City is the country's fourth largest territorial authority. Hamilton is in the Waikato Region of the North Island, approximately south of Auckland...

 and in Levin
Levin, New Zealand
Levin is a town in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of New Zealand, and is the largest town in the Horowhenua district. It is 90 kilometres north of Wellington, 50 kilometres south of Palmerston North, and two kilometres to the east of Lake Horowhenua....

. While in Morrinsville he was asked to take up a subaltern
Subaltern (rank)
A subaltern is a chiefly British military term for a junior officer. Literally meaning "subordinate," subaltern is used to describe commissioned officers below the rank of captain and generally comprises the various grades of lieutenant. In the British Army the senior subaltern rank was...

ship in the local Territorial Army unit, but he did not succeed in gaining the King's commission.

Freyberg left New Zealand in March 1914. Records exist of him in San Francisco and in Mexico, where he may have taken part in the civil war
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 then raging in that country, reportedly becoming a captain under Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

. Upon hearing of the outbreak of war in Europe
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in August 1914, he travelled to England via Los Angeles (where he won a swimming competition to earn money to cross the United States) and New York (where he won a prizefight to earn money to cross the Atlantic).

World War I

In late 1914 Freyberg met Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, then First Lord of the Admiralty, and persuaded him to grant him a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve commission in the Hood Battalion of the newly-constituted Royal Naval Division.

In 1915 Freyberg became involved in the Dardanelles campaign
Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

. During the initial landings by Allied troops following the unsuccessful attempt to force the straits by sea, Freyberg swam ashore in the Gulf of Saros. Once ashore, he began lighting flares so as to distract the defending Turkish forces from the real landings taking place at Gallipoli
Gallipoli
The Gallipoli peninsula is located in Turkish Thrace , the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek "Καλλίπολις" , meaning "Beautiful City"...

. Despite coming under heavy Turkish fire, he returned safely from this outing, and for his action he received the Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

. He received serious wounds on several occasions and left the peninsula when his division evacuated in January 1916.
In May 1916 Freyberg was transferred to the British Army as a captain in the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey)
The Queen's Royal Regiment was a regiment of the English and later British Army from 1661 to 1959. It was the senior English line infantry regiment of the British Army, behind only the Royal Scots in the British Army line infantry order of precedence...

. However, he remained with the Hood Battalion as a seconded temporary major and went with them to France. During the final stages of the Battle of the Somme
Battle of the Somme (1916)
The Battle of the Somme , also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 14 November 1916 in the Somme department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name...

, when commanding a battalion as a temporary lieutenant-colonel, he so distinguished himself in the capture of Beaucourt village that he was awarded the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

. On 13 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. The citation for the award, published in the London Gazette
London Gazette
The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published...

 in December 1916, describes the events concluding with:
During his time on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 Freyberg continued to lead by example. His leadership had a cost however: Freyberg received nine wounds during his service in France, and men who served with him later in his career said hardly a part of his body did not have scars.

Freyberg gained promotion to the rank of temporary Brigadier
Brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

 General (although he still had the permanent rank of only Captain) and took command of a brigade in the 58th Division in April 1917, which reportedly made him the youngest general officer in the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. He was awarded a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George the same year. In September a shell exploding at his feet inflicted the worst of his many wounds. When he resumed duty in January 1918 he again commanded 88th Brigade in 29th Division, performing with distinction during the German offensive of March–April 1918. He won a bar to his DSO in September that year.

Freyberg ended the war by leading a cavalry squadron detached from 7th Dragoon Guards
7th Dragoon Guards
The 7th Dragoon Guards was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first raised in 1688. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in 1922....

 to seize a bridge at Lessines, which was achieved one minute before the armistice came into effect, thus earning him a third DSO. By the end of the war Freyberg had added the French Croix de Guerre
Croix de guerre
The Croix de guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts...

 to his name, as well receiving five Mentions in Despatches after his escapade at Saros.

Interbellum

Early in 1919 Freyberg was granted a regular commission in the Grenadier Guards and settled into peacetime soldiering, as well as attempts to swim the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. From 1921 to 1925 he was a staff officer in the headquarters of the 44th Division. He suffered health problems arising from his many wounds, and as part of his convalescence he visited New Zealand in 1921.

On 14 June 1922 he married Barbara McLaren
Barbara Freyberg, Baroness Freyberg
Barbara Freyberg, Baroness Freyberg GBE, DStJ was a British peeress.Born as Barbara Jekyll, she was a daughter of Colonel Sir Herbert Jekyll . On 20 July 1911, she married Hon...

 (a daughter of Sir Herbert Jekyll and the widow of Hon. Francis McLaren
Francis McLaren
The Honourable Francis Walter Stafford McLaren was a British Member of Parliament killed in World War I.-Career:...

) at St Martha on the Hill
St. Martha's Hill
St Martha's Hill is a landmark of the parish of St Martha's in Surrey, England, situated between Guildford and Chilworth, Surrey. It is a prominent hill on the Greensand Ridge just to the south of the North Downs in southeast England. The top of the hill provides good views of Newland's Corner and...

. Barbara had two children from her previous marriage, and she and Freyberg later had a son, Paul, born in 1923.

In the general election of 1922
United Kingdom general election, 1922
The United Kingdom general election of 1922 was held on 15 November 1922. It was the first election held after most of the Irish counties left the United Kingdom to form the Irish Free State, and was won by Andrew Bonar Law's Conservatives, who gained an overall majority over Labour, led by John...

 he stood unsuccessfully (coming second) as an Independent Liberal candidate for Cardiff South
Cardiff South (UK Parliament constituency)
Cardiff South was a borough constituency in Cardiff, Wales. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

. He represented New Zealand
New Zealand Olympic Committee
The New Zealand Olympic Committee is the body in New Zealand responsible for selecting athletes to represent New Zealand in the Summer and Winter Olympic and the Commonwealth Games....

 on the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 in 1928–30.

Promoted to the permanent rank of major in 1927 (having been a substantive captain since 1916), he held a GSO2 staff appointment at Headquarters Eastern Command until February 1929 when he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and appointed to command 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment. In 1931 he was promoted colonel (with seniority backdated to 1922) and was appointed Assistant Quartermaster General of Southern Command. In September 1933 he moved to a GSO1 posting at the War Office before being promoted major-general in July 1934.

With this promotion, at the age of only 45, he seemed headed for the highest echelons of the army. However, medical examinations prior to a posting in India revealed a heart problem. Despite strenuous efforts to surmount this, Freyberg, who was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1936, was obliged to retire on 16 October 1937.

Second World War

The British Army classified Freyberg as unfit for active service in 1937. However, following the outbreak of war in September 1939 he returned to its active list in December as a specially employed major-general. Following an approach from the New Zealand government, Freyberg offered his services and subsequently gained appointment as commander of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force and of the New Zealand 2nd Division
New Zealand 2nd Division
The 2nd New Zealand Division was a formation of the New Zealand Military Forces during World War II. It was commanded for most of its existence by Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg, and fought in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert and Italy...

.

In the chaos of the retreat from the Greek mainland campaign
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

 of 1941, London gave Freyberg command of the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces during the Battle of Crete
Battle of Crete
The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

. Controversy surrounds his use of ULTRA
Ultra
Ultra was the designation adopted by British military intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by "breaking" high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. "Ultra" eventually became the standard...

 intelligence messages during this battle.

Promoted to Lieutenant-General and knighted via Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Freyberg continued to command the New Zealand 2nd Division through the North African
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

 and Italian campaign
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

s of the British Eighth Army. He had an excellent reputation as a divisional-level tactician. Churchill described Freyberg as his "salamander" due to his love of fire and wanting to be always in the middle of the action; an exploding German shell wounded Freyberg at the Battle of Marsa Matruh in June 1942, but he soon returned to the battlefield. Freyberg however disagreed strongly with his superior, General Claude Auchinleck
Claude Auchinleck
Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE , nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers...

, and insisted that as a commander of a national contingent he had the right to refuse orders if those orders ran counter to the New Zealand national interest. On the other hand, Freyberg enjoyed a good relationship with General Bernard Montgomery
Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC , nicknamed "Monty" and the "Spartan General" was a British Army officer. He saw action in the First World War, when he was seriously wounded, and during the Second World War he commanded the 8th Army from...

, who thought highly of the experienced New Zealander.

In the climactic Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

 in October–November 1942, the New Zealand Division played a vital part in the Allies’ final breakthrough; for his leadership of it Freyberg was immediately upgraded to a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. During the ensuing pursuit of the Axis forces across North Africa to Tunisia, where they surrendered, he led the New Zealanders on a series of well-executed left hooks designed to outflank successive enemy defence lines. In April and May 1943 Freyberg briefly commanded X Corps
X Corps (United Kingdom)
The X Corps was a British Army formation in the First World War and was later reformed in 1942 during the North African campaign of the Second World War as part of the Eighth Army.- First World War :...

.

Freyberg was injured in an aircraft accident in September 1944. After six weeks in hospital he returned to command the New Zealand Division in its final operations, which involved a series of river crossings and an advance of 250 miles in three weeks. By the time of Germany’s capitulation, the New Zealanders had reached Trieste, having already liberated both Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, where there was, briefly, a tense standoff with Yugoslav partisans. This success earned him a third bar to his DSO in July 1945, and he was also made a commander of the US Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

.

Freyberg had excelled in planning set-piece attacks, such as at Operation Supercharge at Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

, Operation Supercharge II at Tebaga Gap
Tunisia Campaign
The Tunisia Campaign was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps...

, and in the storming of the Senio line in 1945. However, the two occasions that Freyberg commanded at Corps level—at Crete
Battle of Crete
The Battle of Crete was a battle during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur...

 and Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...

—counted as less successful. Throughout the war he showed a disdain for danger. He showed notable concern for the welfare of his soldiers, taking a common-sense attitude to discipline and ensuring the establishment of social facilities for his men. He had become a very popular commander with the New Zealand soldiers by the time he left his command in 1945.

Freyberg is closely associated with the controversial decision to bomb the ancient monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy, in February 1944. Freyberg, commanding the troops which fought what later became known as the Second and Third Battles of Monte Cassino
Battle of Monte Cassino
The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles during World War II, fought by the Allies against Germans and Italians with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome.In the beginning of 1944, the western half of the Winter Line was being anchored by Germans...

, became convinced the abbey, founded in 529 A.D., was being used as military stronghold. The analysis of one of Freyberg's divisional commanders, Francis Tuker
Francis Tuker
Lieutenant General Sir Francis Ivan Simms Tuker KCIE CB DSO OBE was a British Indian Army officer.-Military career:...

, concluded in a memo to Freyberg that regardless of whether the monastery was currently occupied by the Germans, it should be demolished to prevent its effective occupation. He also pointed out that with 150 foot (45 m) high walls made of masonry at least 10 feet (3 m) thick, there was no practical means for field engineers to deal with the place, and that bombing with "blockbuster" bombs would be the only solution since 1,000 pound bombs would be "next to useless". The theatre commander, General Harold Alexander, agreed to the bombing (which did not employ blockbuster bombs) and the ruins were occupied by German forces which held the position until 18 May. Following the war, the abbot of the monastery and other monks confirmed that German troops had not yet occupied the inside of the abbey and it was not being used for military purposes.

Post-war

Freyberg relinquished command of the New Zealand division, on 22 November 1945 having accepted an invitation to become Governor-General of New Zealand
Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

 – the first with a New Zealand upbringing. He left London for his new post on 3 May 1946, after being made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. His links with the army were cut when his retirement took effect on 10 September 1946.
Freyberg served as Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 until 1952. In this post he played a very active role, visiting all parts of New Zealand and its dependencies.

The Crown raised Freyberg to the peerage as Baron Freyberg
Baron Freyberg
Baron Freyberg, of Wellington in New Zealand and of Munstead in the County of Surrey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1951 for the prominent military commander Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg. He served as Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952....

 of Wellington in New Zealand and of Munstead in the County of Surrey in 1951.

After his term as New Zealand Governor-General had finished Freyberg returned to England where he sat frequently in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. On 1 March 1953 he became the Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

; he took up residence in the Norman Gateway the following year.

In 1955, Freyberg High School
Freyberg High School
Freyberg High School is a State Co-Educational Secondary School in the suburb of Roslyn, Palmerston North, New Zealand.The school is located at the end of Freyberg Street, Palmerston North and is bordered by Skoglund Park on the east and Ross Intermediate School on the west. To the north are the...

 in Palmerston North
Palmerston North
Palmerston North is the main city of the Manawatu-Wanganui region of the North Island of New Zealand. It is an inland city with a population of and is the country's seventh largest city and eighth largest urban area. Palmerston North is located in the eastern Manawatu Plains near the north bank...

, New Zealand opened.

Freyberg died at Windsor on 4 July 1963 following the rupture of one of his war wounds, and was buried in the churchyard of St Martha on the Hill
St. Martha's Hill
St Martha's Hill is a landmark of the parish of St Martha's in Surrey, England, situated between Guildford and Chilworth, Surrey. It is a prominent hill on the Greensand Ridge just to the south of the North Downs in southeast England. The top of the hill provides good views of Newland's Corner and...

 near Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

, Surrey. His wife is buried at his side, and their son, who had been awarded the Military Cross
Military Cross
The Military Cross is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries....

, at the end of their graves.

Styles

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes a Bar to the DSO.
  • 1889–1914: Bernard Cyril Freyberg
  • 1914-3 June 1915: Commander
    Commander
    Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

     (temp.) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, RNVR
  • 3 June 1915 – May 1916: Commander (temp.) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, DSO
    Distinguished Service Order
    The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

    , RNVR
  • May–June 1916: Captain Bernard Cyril Freyberg, DSO
  • June–July 1916: Captain (Temp. Major) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, DSO
  • July-12 December 1916: Captain (Temp. Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, DSO
  • 12 December 1916–1917: Captain (Temp. Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC
    Victoria Cross
    The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

    , DSO
  • 1917-1 February 1919: Captain (Temp. Brigadier
    Brigadier
    Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

    ) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, DSO
  • 1 February – 7 March 1919: Captain (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel; Temp. Brigadier) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, DSO*
  • 7 March–June 1919: Captain (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, DSO*
  • June 1919–1920: Captain (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, DSO**
  • 1920–1927: Captain (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CMG, DSO**
  • 1927–1929: Major (Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel) Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CMG, DSO**
  • 1929–1931: Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CMG, DSO**
  • 1931–1934: Colonel
    Colonel
    Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

     Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CMG, DSO**
  • 1934–1935: Major-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CMG, DSO**
  • 1935–1941: Major-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, CB, CMG, DSO**
  • 1941–1942: Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO**
  • 1942–1945: Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, KCB
    Order of the Bath
    The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

    , KBE, CMG, DSO**
  • 1945–1946: Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, KCB, KBE, CMG, DSO***
  • 1946–1951: Lieutenant-General His Excellency
    Excellency
    Excellency is an honorific style given to certain members of an organization or state.Usually, people styled "Excellency" are heads of state, heads of government, governors, ambassadors, certain ecclesiastics, royalty, aristocracy, and military, and others holding equivalent rank .It is...

     Sir Bernard Cyril Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO***
  • 1951–1952: Lieutenant-General His Excellency The Right Honourable
    The Right Honourable
    The Right Honourable is an honorific prefix that is traditionally applied to certain people in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Anglophone Caribbean and other Commonwealth Realms, and occasionally elsewhere...

     The Lord Freyberg
    Baron Freyberg
    Baron Freyberg, of Wellington in New Zealand and of Munstead in the County of Surrey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1951 for the prominent military commander Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg. He served as Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952....

    , VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO***
  • 1951–1963: Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable The Lord Freyberg, VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO***

External links





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