b. 29/09/1895 Lockerley, Hampshire. d. 12/03/1983 Glasgow, Scotland.
Frederick Luke (1895-1983) was born at Lockerley, near West Tytherley, Hampshire on 29th September 1895, being registered as Frederick John Luke at birth. His father was William Luke, a grain miller’s vanman at Elwood Mill. His mother was Kate nee Luffman. They married in Stockbridge in 1890. Frederick came from a large family with six brothers and six sisters. The family lived at Monks Cottage, Romsey Extra, Hampshire. Frederick was educated at Lockerley School and then worked as a farm labourer at East Dean Farm.
He enlisted at Winchester in January 1913 and disembarked in France on 19th August 1914. A week later at Le Cateau, he would be awarded the Victoria Cross. On 26th August 1914 at Le Cateau, France, when a captain (Douglas Reynolds) of the same battery was trying to save two guns which had been recaptured, Driver Luke and another driver (Job Henry Charles Drain) volunteered to help and gave great assistance in the eventual saving of one of the guns. At the time they were under heavy fire from the enemy who were only 100 yards (91 m) away.
All three men were awarded the VC, gazetted on 25th November 1914. Luke was presented with his medal on 1st December 1914 at a specially arranged inspection at Army HQ, Locon, near Bethune, France. Similiarly to Job Drain, both men only were informed of their award by a field officer whilst in the trenches, and they both had no time to clean up before the King’s inspection. The King told Luke not to lose his medal in the mud, but to give it to his commanding officer to send home. The King recalled the incident at a VC Garden Party in 1920 which Luke attended.
Frederick was wounded on 2nd May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres and sent to Todmorden, West Yorkshire and Glasgow to recover. He later served with D/180 Battery in 16th Division, returning to France in January 1918. He was promoted to Sergeant, and was a member of the VC Guard at the interment of the Unknown Warrior on 11th November 1920.
He was discharged to the Reserve in 1919 and worked as a clerk at the Labour Bureau in Glasgow before becoming a janitor at Glasgow High School for Boys. He married Jane “Jeannie” Wilson nee Husband at Queen’s Cross United Free Church, Glasgow on 4th April 1919. They met while he was in hospital. They lived at Top Green, Lockerley, Hampshire and later at 208 Alison Road, Glasgow. They had three children all born in Glasgow – William Husband Luke (b1920), Frederick Frank Luke (b1922) and Mattie (Martha) Luke (b1935).
He was discharged from the Reserve in 1929. He enlisted in the RAF as a Ground Gunner on 29th July 1941 and joined No 744 Defence Squadron at Dyce, Scotland on 1st November 1941. The Squadron renumbered as No 2744 on the formation of the RAF Regiment on 1st February 1942. He attended the Artillery School, and then became an Instructor at Belton Park, Lincolnshire. In November 1943 he transferred to the RAF Marine Branch as a Boat Crewman. He served at Oban for most of 1944 and was discharged in August 1945. His sons both served during the War.
After the War, he became a gauge and tool storeman at Weirs of Cathcart, Glasgow, until 1960 and also worked for a short time as a petrol pump attendant in 1967. In 1962, he returned to Le Cateau on the 48th anniversary and received the Freedom of the town. He also attended the 50th anniversary two years later. He became the oldest man living at the time to hold the Victoria Cross, regularly attending reunions and ceremonies. In February 1981, he spent a week with 93 (Le Cateau) Battery at Paderborn, West Germany.
Frederick died at his daughter’s house at 597 Castlemilk Road, Croftfoot, Glasgow on 12th March 1983 and was cremated at Linn Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered. In addition to his VC, which he held for 69 years, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oak leaf, Defence Medal 1939-45, British War Medal 1939-45, George VI Coronation Medal of 1937, and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal of 1953. His medals were purchased in a private sale in 1999 by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: LINN CREMATORIUM, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND. ASHES SCATTERED.
Frederick Luke's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).
Frederick Luke VC's memorial paving stone laid in Lockerley, Hampshire in August 2014.
RA Chapel, Woolwich