b. 01/04/1891 Slamannan, Scotland. d. 06/08/1971 Wellington, New Zealand
Samuel Frickleton (1891-1971) was born on 2nd April 1891 at Old Lodge, Slamannan, Stirlingshire, Scotland. His father, also Samuel, was a coal miner, who came from Airdrie, Lanarkshire. He married Elizabeth Logan in 1877 at Holytown, Lanarkshire. The marriage didn’t last and Elizabeth emigrated to New Zealand in 1904 with five of her sons and a daughter and settled at Clifford Street, Greymouth, West Coast, South Island. Samuel had nine siblings, all born in Scotland. All of the brothers served in the war and three were wounded.
Samuel was probably educated in Slamannan. He worked as a coal miner in Greymouth, before enlisting in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 12th February 1915. He was promoted to Corporal and embarked for Egypt in the Canterbury Infantry Battalion with the 5th Reinforcements on 13th June, arriving on one of three ships between 24th July and 6th August. Having contracted tuberculosis, he was returned to New Zealand for treatment and discharged medically unfit on 11th November.
Samuel re-enlisted on 13th April 1916 and embarked for Britain with the 15th Reinforcements on 26th July, and eventually arrived in France in November and was posted to 3rd Battalion New Zealand Rigle Brigade on 7th December. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in February 1917 and was detached to the Grenade School in May 1917.
Frickleton was awarded a Victoria Cross of his action on 7th June 1917 at Messines, Belgium. The citation notes that "[a]lthough slightly wounded, Lance Corporal Frickleton dashed forward at the head of his section, rushed through a barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine gun and crew, which were causing heavy casualties. He then attacked the 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.
He was evacuated to Britain to recuperate from his wounds and rejoined his unit a month later. He was appointed Acting Sergeant in August, and received his VC from King George V at Ibrox Park, Glasgow on 18th September 1917. He then commenced training at one of the officer cadet battalions in Cambridge and was commissioned on 26th March 1918. However, he became seriously ill in May, suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis and gas poisoning, and was returned to New Zealand as medically unfit, arriving on 12th June. Samuel ceased service with the NZEF on 20th December 1918, but was appointed a temporary staff officer and Assistant Provost Marshal, Wellington Military District from December 1918 to June 1919. He transferred to the Canterbury Military District on 1st July and to the New Zealand Staff Corps as a Lieutenant in October. He retired on medical grounds in 1927.
He married Valeska Gembitsky on 12th January 1922. They lived in Naenae, and had a son, Logan Samuel Frickleton, born in 1928. Samuel went into business in Wellington in 1927, later turning to farming in Wakanae and finally became a house manager. He resumed service in the Territorial Force in 1934 and was promoted to Captain. He commanded the Guard of Honour for the visit of the Duke of Gloucester to New Zealand in December 1935. He attended the coronation of King George VI in 1937 as a member of the New Zealand contingent before retiring. He was recalled as an Inspector New Zealand Forces in 1939, serving until 1948. He attended the 1956 VC Centenary Celebrations in Hyde Park. He was also a Freemason, and was a member of Lodge Kawatiri, Scinde No 5 of Napier and Lodge Taia No 229 of Kilbirnie. He was also an active member of the Returned Services Association of New Zealand.
He died following a long illness in Hutt Hospital, Naenae, near Wellington, on 6th August 1971. He was buried in Taita Servicemen’s Cemetery, Naenae. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal. His widow presented the medals to the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum in November 1977, where they are held. They were stolen in December 2007, but fortunately were recovered in October 2008.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QE11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM, WAIOURU, NEW ZEALAND.
BURIAL PLACE: TAITA SERVICEMEN'S CEMETERY, NAENAE, NEW ZEALAND. PLOT 1188
Samuel Frickleton's medals including VC on display at the Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand.
Frickleton's memorial near to the site of the Battle of Messines.
Slamannan (Thomas Stewart)