Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bernard Freyberg in Monte Cassino (January 3, 1944)

Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg , VC , GCMG , KCB , KBE , DSO & Three Bars (* 21st March 1889 in Richmond upon Thames , † 4. July 1963 in Windsor ) was a British general in the First and Second World War and from 1946 to 1952 Governor General of New Zealand .


Freyberg was born to James Freyberg and Julia Hamilton. At the age of two he moved to New Zealand with his parents. Here he attended Wellington College from 1897 to 1904 . In his youth he won several titles at the New Zealand swimming championships. In 1911 he was licensed as a dentist . He left New Zealand in early 1914 and toured San Francisco and Mexico.

After the outbreak of war in August 1914, he went to the United Kingdom , where he applied to Winston Churchill for admission to the Hood Battalion of the newly established Royal Naval Division . With this he took part in the defense of Antwerp and the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915/16. In June 1915 he became the battalion commander. In May 1916 it was moved to France, where it took part in the Battle of the Somme . It was here that Freyberg received the Victoria Cross on November 13, 1916 after being wounded several times in an attack near Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre . In April 1917 he took over the command of a brigade and later of the 29th Division with the brevet rank of brigadier general . In total, he was wounded nine times during the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order three times as well as the French Croix de guerre .

In the interwar period, Freyberg served in the Grenadier Guards and in the Territorial Army . In 1922 he married Barbara McLaren, née Jekyll, who had two children from their first marriage and in 1923 gave birth to their son Paul. In 1933 he got a position in the War Office .

In 1937 Freyberg was dismissed from the army as unfit for service, but reactivated after the outbreak of World War II. In November 1939 he was given command of the 2nd New Zealand Division and at the same time supreme command of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), which he set up in Egypt from 1940. With the NZEF he took part in the fighting in Greece in 1941. After the evacuation of the Allied troops from the mainland in late April 1941, he was appointed Allied Commander in Crete. The defense of Crete against German paratroopers in May 1941 failed. Allied troops had to be evacuated from May 28th to June 1st. Freyberg himself was flown out on the night of May 31st, on the instructions of the British General Staff.

With the NZEF, Freyberg took part in the fighting in North Africa in association with the British 8th Army led by Bernard Montgomery . In 1943 he was transferred to Italy with the New Zealand Corps as part of the 5th US Army , where he was involved, among other things, in the Battle of Monte Cassino and the battles for the position of the Goths . Freyberg was criticized , especially after the war, for the demand approved by his superiors to bomb the famous Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino from the air.

After the end of the war in 1945, Freyberg retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant general. In 1946 he was appointed Governor General of New Zealand and held this position until 1952. In 1951 he was accepted into the hereditary nobility as Baron Freyberg , of Wellington in New Zealand and of Munstead in the County of Surrey. From 1953 until his death he served as "Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor" of Windsor Castle . He died on July 4, 1963 and was buried in the churchyard of St Martha-on-the-Hill in Guildford, Surrey.

In memory of him and his military achievements, the Alamein Range , the Salamander Range and the Freyberg Mountains were named in the Antarctic .


  • Laurie Barber, John Tonkin-Covell: Freyberg. Churchill's salamander . Hutchinson, London 1990, ISBN 1-86941-052-1 .
  • Paul Freyberg: Bernard Freyberg, VC. Soldier of two nations . Hodder & Stoughton, London 1991, ISBN 0-340-39693-8 .

Web links

Commons : Bernard Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Cyril Newall, 1st Baron Newall Governor General of New Zealand
Charles Norrie, 1st Baron Norrie
New title created Baron Freyberg
Paul Richard Freyberg