b. 28/11/1881 Longwood, Australia. d. 20/09/1917 Passchendaele, Belgium.
Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917) was born on 28th November 1881 at St Helena, Longwood in Victoria, the fifth of ten children, to Harry Tubb and Emma Eliza (nee Abbott). Both his parents were English-born, and his family could be traced back to 13th Century Cornwall. Tubb’s parents, both of whom were teachers, settled in Longwood in 1875, a year after they were married. They lived in a two-storey house, originally built as a hotel, which Tubb’s father, being a keen student of Napoleon, named St Helena. As well as teaching at the old and new Longwood State Schools, the Tubbs took a 320 acre holding between the old and new town. Fred Tubb attended his father’s school, obtaining his merit certificate, and then managed the family’s farm before working his own land at Longwood.
At just 5ft 5in, he was the smallest of the four sons (another son had died aged six) but possessed a competitive streak which made him a successful sportsman. On 20th June 1900, while his elder brother Frank was serving with the Australian contingent against the Boers, he joined the Victorian Mounted Rifles. After two years’ service, he joined the Commonwealth Light Horse and served with them for nine years, rising to Sergeant.
He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 2nd December 1912, and enlisted in the AIF on 24th August 1914. Appointed 7th Battalion Transport Officer, he accompanied the unit to Egypt where he was promoted Lieutenant on 1st February 1915. Although he embarked with the Battalion to take part in the landings, Tubb remained aboard ship with the transport and returned with it to Egypt. He did not set foot on the peninsula until 6th July, when he arrived as replacement B Company commander. A month later, on the day of the assault on the Lone Pine position, he was promoted Captain.
In the early morning of 9th August 1915, the enemy made a determined counter attack on the centre of the newly captured trench held by Lieutenant Tubb. They advanced up a sap and blew in a sandbag barricade, leaving only one foot of it standing, but Lieutenant Tubb led his men back, repulsed the enemy, and rebuilt the barricade. Supported by strong bombing parties, the enemy succeeded in twice again blowing in the barricade, but on each occasion Lieutenant Tubb, although wounded in the head and arm, held his ground with the greatest coolness and rebuilt it, and finally succeeded in maintaining his position under very heavy bomb fire.
After the battle, Tubb was treated for shrapnel wounds to his head and left eye as well as a bullet wound to his left elbow at 2nd Australian Field Ambulance Station on the beach at Anzac Cove. On 11th August, after a day long wait, he was evacuated aboard the hospital ship Gascon. Taken first to the Blue Sisters Hospital in Malta and then England, he was reported recovered by the end of September and on 4th October 1915 was sent to Lady Clementine Waring’s convalescent home in Lennel. It was while he was recuperating there that he heard of his award of the VC. He spent the day of his VC award with officers of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in Berwick. On his way back to Lennel, his car was intercepted at Coldstream Bridge and he was taken to a reception organised by Lady Waring.
Despite his early medical reports, his recovery was slow and painful. While his battle wounds healed quickly, he suffered a bout of bronchitis and affected by severe stomach pains. Eventually, following further hospital stays, he was admitted to No 3 London General Hospital with appendicitis. On 28th December, he underwent an emergency appendicectomy, which left him with an incision hernia that proved a source of great discomfort. Tubb was invalided back to Australia. He arrived in April 1916 to a hero’s welcome. Tubb was desperate to return to his Battalion, but his health was still a concern. In May, at a medical board, he complained of “occasional severe pain all over his abdomen” and admitted to feeling “depressed during these attacks”. He decided to do a stint as a bombing instructor at Duntroon Military College and followed up with a morale-boosting tour of army camps. Eventually, he persuaded a medical board to pass him fit and he left Australia on 2nd October. Two months later, on 10th December 1916, he rejoined the 7th Battalion.
After a spell at the 4th Army School, Tubb was promoted Major on 10th February 1917. While on leave in June, he fell sick again and spent six weeks in hospital. Discharged in August, he was back with his unit in time for the Australian participation in the Third Battle of Ypres on 20th September. The day before leading his company’s attack on nine German pillboxes south of Polygon Wood he had experienced considerable pain from his hernia, resulting in his brother and fellow officer, Frank, being authorised to take over. But he had refused to stand down. Instead, displaying his customary dash, he had captured and consolidated his objective before being hit in the back by a sniper. It was while he was being carried back for treatment that Tubb was mortally wounded by a piece of shrapnel from a British shell. He died of his wounds and was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. His medals were donated to and are displayed at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA.
BURIAL PLACE: LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY, LIJSSENTHOEK, BELGIUM.
Frederick Tubb's medals courtesy of Memorials to Valour
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT XIX, ROW C, GRAVE 5
Memorial Park, Euroa, Victoria
National Memorial Arboretum
War Illustrated, 15th September 1917
War Illustrated, 20th November 1915