Samuel Frickleton VC
Born: 2nd April 1891 at Slamannan, Scotland.
Died: 6th September 1971 at Naenae, in the Hutt Valley, New Zealand.
Buried: Taita Servicemen's Cemetery, Naenae, near Wellington, New Zealand.
Samuel Frickleton was born at Slamannan, Stirlingshire, Scotland on 2nd April 1891 and was one of 11 siblings. In 1913 his family emigrated to New Zealand where Samuel worked alongside four of his brothers as a coal miner in Blackball on the South Island's West Coast.
On 12th February 1915 Samuel Frickleton, along with his brithers William and James, joined the New Zealand Army and volunteered for overseas service. He embarked for the Middle East with the 5th Reinforcements with the rank of Corporal in the Canterbury Battalion; arriving in Egypt in June 1915. In Egypt, however, he contracted tuberculosis and was repatriated back to New Zealand where he was subsequently discharged as medically unfit for active service in November 1915. Five months later Samuel Frickleton reenlisted and was posted to the Western Front as a rifleman with the 3rd Battalion, the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
By March 1917, he had been promoted to Lance Corporal and along with his Battalion was destined to take part in the Battle of Messines. On 7 June 1917, Samual Frickleton's battalion was attacking the edge of Messines village when it was slowed by two machine gun posts. For his actions in dealing with these machine gun posts Samual Frickleton was awarded a Victoria Cross (VC). His citation reads:1
"For most conspicuous bravery and determination when with attacking troops, which came under heavy fire and were, checked.
Although slightly wounded Cpl Frickleton dashed forward at the head of his section, pushed into our barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine gun and crew which was causing heavy casualties.
He then attacked a second gun, killing the whole of the crew of twelve.
By the destruction of these two guns, he undoubtedly saved his own and other units from very severe casualties, and his magnificent courage and gallantry ensured the capture of the objective.
During the consolidation of the position he received a second severe wound.
He set, throughout, a great example of heroism."
The wounds he sustained were in the arm and hip. He was also badly gased; something that would plague him for the rest of his life. Samuel was evacuated to England where he received medical treatment for his injuries. Whilst convelesing he was promoted to acting Sergeant. On 17th September 1917, at a ceremony in Glasgow, Sergeant Samuel Frickleton was presented with the Victoria Cross by His Majesty King George V.
Samuel Frickleton receiving the Victoria Cross from HM King George V. [IWM Q 68299]
After a further period of converlescence, Samuel Frickleton was selected for officer training and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 1918. At the end of the War Samuel returned to New Zealand to a hero's reception, and he was acclaimed at an open-air ceremony in Christchurch.
After the war, Frickleton transferred to the New Zealand Staff Corps. He was promoted to acting Lieutenant and served as Assistant Provost Marshal for the Wellington Military District for several months until June 1919. He was then transferred to the Canterbury Military District. For health reasons, he retired having attained the rank of Captain in April 1927.
In 1937 Samuel Frickleton returned to the UK to represent New Zealand at the coronation of King George VI. During his trip he took the opportunity to visit his hometown of Slamannan.
That same year he returned to the Officer Reserve and was recalled to active duty for the Second World War. Still plauged with health problems he served as Inspector, New Zealand Military Forces. In 1948 Samuel Frickleton joined the Retired List and eight years later he returned to the UK as one of 400 VC winners who paraded in Hyde Park in London.
After a long illness, Samuel Frickleton died at the age of 80 at Naenae, in the Hutt Valley, on 6th September 1971 and is buried at the Taita Serviceman's Cemetery.