Lance Freyberg

Lt-Commander Lance Freyberg

Lance FreybergLance FreybergLancelot was the younger son of Major and Mrs Herbert Freyberg, of 8 Grays Inn Square, London, and brother of Commander G. H. Freyberg, O.B.E., R.N. (Old Dragon).

He was born in 1885, came to the Dragon as a boarder in School House in 1893 and left in 1898. He was in the XV 1897, captain 1898. Represented the School v. Heddon Court in the Gymnasium Competition 1897, and won the boxing contest against a stronger, bigger, older opponent—’Freyberg kept his guard well up and was continually first to attack, hit straight and hard’. He represented us in Inter-School Sports at Reading in 100 yards and Hurdles, under 13. He won the boxing again in 1898, v. Heddon Court, and was in the Hockey XI and Cricket XI. He got prizes, for Map of Europe, 1894; for Illustrated Diary, 1896 and 1898; English Essay on A True Hero, 1897; School prizes for English verse, and for Recitation (from ‘The Passing of Arthur’), 1898, and for Geography. He was a famous actor—took the part of Lysander in A Midsummer Nights Dream, 1898, and Ariel in The Tempest, January 1899.

Lance joined the Navy class at Marlborough in January 1899, and got his Cadetship in H.M.S. Britannia in 1901. He came to our Christmas dance in 19o2; Senior Old Boys’ dinner in 1907 from H.M.S. Mercury. He was promoted to Midshipman in 1902, Sub-Lieutenant in 1905, Lieutenant in 1907, Lieutenant-Commander in 1915. He served in the Channel Squadron and Mediterranean Fleet in the battleships Mars, Caesar, Duncan, and Vengeance, after which he saw service in the Submarine Flotilla at Ports­mouth. He then entered the surveying branch, and was employed first in the North Sea and then on the China station; while in the East he passed as Interpreter in Japanese. On returning home he was appointed to H.M.S. Russell, in which he saw considerable service off the coast of Belgium and then in the Gallipoli campaign. On the evacuation he was employed in destroying by torpedoes the ships which could not be moved, and was men­tioned in the Admiral’s report for the way in which the work was carried out. H.M.S. Russell struck a mine on the 27th April 1916 and sank only four miles from the harbour at Malta. Freyberg and another Old Dragon, Major W. Esson, R.M.L.I., were off duty below at the time, and were both killed instantaneously by the explosion.

Lance FreybergA letter from Leslie Fletcher says:

‘Lance Freyberg has given his life in the Russell, and in the excitement of present events it is difficult to recapitulate what we in the Service have lost thereby. He was in many ways so unusual a type of naval officer. Keen on his profession and interested in every side of it, and all it stands for; and yet among messmates, out of touch as so many of us are with the outer world, he found time to grasp and enjoy the more human side of civilization. How many in our service have had plays staged in London? There were indeed very few subjects of interest on which he could not talk, and talk well. I think he must have been one of the most universally loved both in the ward room and on the lower deck of every ship he served in; his sense of humour, his cheeriness and his ability to see two sides to every question endeared him to all.

At Marlborough we were together in the Army class, and both went up for the Navy in 1900, he to pass, I to fail, and thereby to find a useful friend on coming in next term.

Last time we met was when his ship came into a certain northern base some nine months before his death, and he came to dine with Geoffrey and myself, and he and I walked up and down the bridge after dinner for a long time, and he talked of his love for Oxford and for the Skipper, and of all contemporaries there. His loyalty to the friends of his boyhood was surely one of the finest traits of his fine character; and among our many comrades whom we may yet avenge he will not be forgotten by those who knew him. R.I.P.’

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