Freyberg, Col. Bernard C., V.C.
Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO(1889 – 1963) was a British-born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, who served as the 7th Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952.
Born 1889 Richmond, died 1963 Windsor. His family emigrated to New Zealand in 1891. He was a dentist in Wellington and Levin in NZ until he went to North America to become a soldier in the Mexican Civil War in 1914 but soon deserted to catch a steamer from New York to Liverpool to join up with the RNVR in September 1914 for the European War; he spent the rest of his life living in England apart from his spell as Governor-General
His first Channel attempt was on Aug 4th 1925. He swam for 16hrs 24 mins. He was within 440yds of the Coastline (Hope Point) when pulled out
He went on to make a further four unsuccessful attempts. All of them in 1926; 31st July, no time; 8th August 7hrs 55mins; 5th September 8hrs 35mins; 20th September 9hrs 38 mins.
Freyberg served as an officer in the British Army during the First World War. He took part in the beach landings during the Gallipoli Campaign and was the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War, later serving on the Western Front, where he was decorated with the Victoria Cross and three Distinguished Service Orders, making him one of the most highly decorated British Empire soldiers of the First World War.
During the Second World War, he commanded the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Battle of Crete, the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign. Freyberg was involved in the Allied defeat in the Battle of Greece, defeated again as the Allied commander in the Battle of Crete and performed successfully in the North African Campaign commanding the 2nd New Zealand Division, including during the Second Battle of El Alamein.
In Italy, he was defeated again at the Second Battle of Cassino as a corps commander, but later relieved Padua and Venice, and was one of the first to enter Trieste, where he successfully confronted Josip Broz Tito’s Partisans. By the end of the Second World War, Freyberg had spent altogether ten and a half years fighting the Germans.
J.M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, was a close friend and was best man at Freyburgs wedding