Bro Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC (1881 - 1917)

From WBro D Hudson,

Editor Devotion News,

Author “Compendium of Famous &/or Notable Australian Freemasons”

Major Frederick Harold Tubb

Bro Major Fred H Tubb VC

Brother Major Fred Tubb was Initiated in Euroa Lodge No 185 (UGLV) on 10 Feb 1914. Eighteen months later, he would receive a Victoria Cross. He is one of only three known Australians who had already been Initiated as Freemasons at the time they were awarded a VC, the others being Cpl Cameron Baird (1981-2013) and Cpl Jack Edmondson (1914-41). Bro Baird’s and Edmondon’s VCs were both were gazetted posthumously.

Any Australian solider who has received the Victoria Cross becomes part of our Nation’s narrative; just as all who serve do. While Cpls Baird and Edmonson hold a special place our Nation’s history and the history of Freemasonry, this article focuses on Major Tubb and two other corporals left in a trench at Lone Pine in August 1915. Of the three men left alive during the attack, one would be killed before it ended and only two would survive, all were awarded the Victoria Cross, and remarkably, both survivors were Victorian Freemasons.

First, to our eponym Brother Tubb, born in Longwood Victoria and the son of a headmaster and a farmer, Fred became a grazier. The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) describes him as “tall, an extrovert and a born leader”. After volunteer service with the Victorian Mounted Rifles (1900-02) and the Australian Light Horse (1902-11), he joined the 60th Battalion, Australian Military Forces, and was commissioned second lieutenant in 1912, transferring to the 58th Battalion in 1913. Unlike many others shipped to Gallipoli and France, Tubb was a professional soldier.

According to the ADB;

Appointed to the Australian Imperial Force on 24 August 1914 as a second lieutenant in the 7th Battalion, Tubb was promoted lieutenant on 1 February 1915. He reached Gallipoli on 6 July and was gazetted captain on 8 August. On the same day he took over a vital sector of captured trench at Lone Pine, with orders to 'hold it at any cost'. Early on the 9th the Turks launched a furious attack, advancing along a sap which had been barricaded with sandbags. From the parapet, with eight men, Tubb fired at the enemy; two corporals in the trench caught enemy bombs and threw them back or smothered them with greatcoats. Although Tubb was blown from the parapet and the barricade repeatedly wrecked, each time it was rebuilt. He inspired his men, joking and shouting encouragement. A huge explosion blew in the barricade and killed or wounded most of the defenders. Wounded in the arm and scalp, Tubb was left with Corporals A. S. Burton and W. Dunstan; he led them into action, shooting three Turks with his revolver and providing covering fire while the barricade was rebuilt. A bomb burst, killing Burton and temporarily blinding Dunstan. Tubb then obtained additional help, but the Turks did not renew the attack.

Evacuated that evening, Tubb was taken to England to convalesce. For his gallantry at Lone Pine he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

After being invalided to Australia in April 1916 due to complications from an appendicectomy, he arrived “to a hero's welcome”. Later persuading the medical board he was fit, Bro Tubb returned to France in December and was promoted to Major on 17 February 1917. Taking part in the Third Battle of Ypres, with “dash and courage” he led his company to its objective, but was hit by a sniper and while being evacuated on a stretcher he was mortally wounded by shell-fire and died in a dressing station. He was buried with almost 10,000 others in Belgium at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Tubb is commemorated by Tubb Hill, on the Hume Hwy at Longwood Victoria, and also by a memorial tree in the Avenue of Honour, Euroa, Victoria. Bro Alexander S Burton VC, likewise from Euroa and awarded his VC in the same action, also has a memorial tree there as does Leslie Cecil Maygar, VC, DSO, VD (1868 – 1917). Maygar, a distinguished solider, was awarded the VC for rescuing a follow Victorian soldier in the Boer War. Maygar was killed in the Great War, at the Battle of Beersheba. Bro Tubb’s, Bro Dunstan and Maygar VC’s are on display in the Hall of Valour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Three of Tubb’s brothers, Arthur Oswald (lieutenant, 60th Battalion), Frank Reid, M.C. (captain, 7th Battalion) and Alfred Charles, a signaller, also served in the A.I.F. Frank is also believed to be a Freemason and an “AO Tubb” also appears in Lord Carrington No 111 lists in UGLV’s WW1 Roll of Honour.

My research on Bro Fred Tubb recently caught the attention of Prestonian Lecturer Granville Angell of UGLE who has written several book, including The Victoria Cross Freemasons' - Band of Brothers. Such research often becomes collaborative. VWBro Neil Wynes Morse (Lodge Baden Powell #646 NSW/ACT. Secretary, Canberra Lodge of Research and Instruction. Fellow; The Victorian Lodge of Research #218 UGLV) contacted me in Nov 2017 to say Granville had given a talk at his lodge in Canberra and approached him excitedly to let him know about Tubb, Neil replied 'Yep - Lodge Euroa'. Neil knew of the Honour Roll entry and that Tubb appears in the ANZMRC database of WWI Masonic dead. Like many Famous Freemasons, specific people know about them in pockets, but their membership is not always generally known. This is why I like to share this information freely in Devotion News and on the web.

In 2012 I’d found a reference to F H Tubb as a Freemason in the records of the Australian War Memorial and added him to my list. In 2016 WBro Bill Nash (Secretary, Lodge Victoria Cross No 928 UGLNSW&ACT) had queried this; I’d directed him to the source which was Tubb’s own war diary, mentioning visiting Lodge Kitchener in Cairo in Dec 1914. Bill was able to decipher the full entry for me and the case strengthened, then in Nov 2017, Neil sent me UGLV WW1 Roll of Honour, Bro Ange Kenos of UGLV library found Tubb’s Victorian membership records, and Bro Bill emailed me a photo of Euroa Lodge No 185 UGLV WW’s 1 Honour Board – listed at the top is “Bro Major F H Tubb, VC, killed in action”. The Secretary of Euroa Lodge, now “Euroa-Vega Lodge #185” has since even found the minutes of the evening Fred was Initiated into Freemasonry. Fred Tubb has certainly met the most cautious burden of proof to establish he was a Freemason, yet he’s rarely recorded as one. However, that’s often true of others, including Albert Jacka VC, or others like Bradman, Kingsford Smith, Tingwell, Dunlop, and Opperman. Even a particularly active Freemason like Robert Menzies has Freemasonry airbrushed out of their life by historians and biographers. While members of Euroa lodge might have noted “Bro Major F H Tibb VC, killed in action” on their honour board, Bro Tubb as a Freemason was not generally known.

Euroa Lodge Honour Board Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC (1881 - 1917)

In Summary: Frederick Tubb had been Initiated in Euroa Lodge No 185 UGLV on 10 Feb 1914. Eighteen months later, along with others, he was fighting for his life at the famous Lone Pine, most of his men wiped out, he, and Corporals Alexander Stewart Burton (1893-1915) and William Dunstan (1895-1957), all personal friends, would complete the order to hold their vital position “at any cost”. Burton was killed by a blast which also temporarily blinded Dunstan, leaving only Tubb fighting. Although reinforcements arrived, the Turks did not renew their attack. It was the sort of bravery and resolve by the three for which the VC is awarded. Dunstan would later become Tubb’s Brother not only in arms, but in Freemasonry; he became a Freemason in 1922 at Victorian Naval and Military Lodge No 49.

Source of the above quotes & biographical details on F H Tub; H. Murray Hamilton, 'Tubb, Frederick Harold (1881–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, , published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 17 February 2018.

[1] For the sake of correctness, I must mention that Lord Gowrie, Governor General and Governor of NSW and SA, was also a Freemason when he received his VC. Although he has a strong association with Australia and is our longest serving Governor General – he is never described as “Australian”.

Below, three personal friends from Victoria awarded the Victoria Cross after an action at Lone Pine on 9 August 1915

UGLV WW1 Honour Roll of 1919

Bro Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC & KIA (1881 - 1917)

Freemason Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC & KIA (1881 - 1917)

Alexander S Burton VC & KIA. (1893-1915)

Freemason Alexander S Burton VC & KIA. (1893-1915),

Bro William Dunstan VC, Naval and Military Lodge 49 (1895-1957)

Freemason William Dunstan VC, Naval and Military Lodge 49 (1895-1957)