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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tubb, Frederick Harold (1881–1917)

by H. Murray Hamilton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917), by unknown photographer, c1915

Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917), by unknown photographer, c1915

Australian War Memorial, H06786

Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917), soldier and grazier, was born on 28 November 1881 at Longwood, Victoria, fifth child of Harry Tubb, teacher, and his wife Emma Eliza, née Abbott, both English born. His father, head teacher at the local school, subsequently took up a selection in the area. Fred obtained his merit certificate and left school to manage the farm; he later worked his own land. He was 5 ft 5¾ ins (167 cm) 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. He transferred to the 58th Battalion in 1913.

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. An emergency appendicectomy left him with an incision hernia and he was invalided to Australia; he arrived home in April 1916 to a hero's welcome. Having persuaded an A.I.F. medical board that he was fit, he rejoined his battalion in France in December and was promoted major on 17 February 1917. His company had an important role in the Menin Road attack, 3rd battle of Ypres, on 20 September. Before the battle he was troubled by his hernia, yet refused to be evacuated. With dash and courage he led his company to its objective, but was hit by a sniper; while being taken out on a stretcher, he was mortally wounded by shell-fire. Tubb was buried in the Lijessenthoek military cemetery, Belgium, and is commemorated by Tubb Hill, Longwood, and a memorial tree in the Avenue of Honour, Euroa, Victoria. His V.C. is on display in the Hall of Valour, Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Three of his 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.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Story of Anzac, vol 2 (Syd, 1924)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1917 (Syd, 1933)
  • A. Dean and E. W. Gutteridge, The Seventh Battalion, A.I.F. (Melb, 1933)
  • L. Wigmore (ed), They Dared Mightily, second ed revised and condensed by J. Williams and A. Staunton (Canb, 1986)
  • London Gazette, 15 Oct 1915
  • Euroa Advertiser, 4 Sept 1914
  • Euroa Gazette, 1 Sept 1915
  • Tubb personal diaries (privately held)
  • private information.

Citation details

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 24 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917), by unknown photographer, c1915

Frederick Harold Tubb (1881-1917), by unknown photographer, c1915

Australian War Memorial, H06786