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 Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman

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Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman

  • Birth 24 Nov 1886 Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England
  • Death 25 Apr 1916 Iraq
  • Burial Al Basrah, Basra, Iraq
  • Plot No known grave; name is on the Basra Memorial, Panel 1 and 60.
  • Memorial ID 10602196

World War I Victoria Cross Recipient. He received the award posthumously (presented to his father) by British King George V on February 28, 1917 at Buckingham Palace in London England for his actions as a lieutenant on the British Royal Navy steamer HMS Julnar on April 24, 1916 during an attempt to resupply British forces who were trapped during the Ottoman Empire's Siege of Kut (Kut-al-Amara), Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) during World War I. Born into a prestigious family, he joined the British Royal Navy as a cadet in May 1901 and served on several British vessels, including the battleships HMS Gloria, Albion, and Illustrious, and the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert. In August 1908 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and served in the Middle East. In early 1916 he became commander of the gunboat HMS Greenfly and in April he provided bombardment support for the British Army at Sannaiyat, Mesopotania in an unsuccessful attempt to break through to Kut. He then took command of the steamer HMS Julnar to tray and run the Turkish blockade and was killed in action near Magasis at the age of 29. He was buried in an unmarked grave by the Ottoman Turks. His Victoria Cross citation reads: "The General Officer Commanding, Indian Expeditionary Force "D", reported on this attempt in the following words:- " At 8 p.m. on April 24th, 1916, with a crew from the Royal Navy under Lieut. Firman, R.N., assisted by Lieut. Comdr. Cowley, R.N.V.R., the "Julnar", carrying 270 tons of supplies, left Falahiyah in an attempt to reach Kut. Her departure was covered by all artillery and machine gun fire that could be brought to bear, in the hope of distracting the enemy's attention. She was, however, discovered and shelled on her passage up the river. At 1 a.m. on the 25th, Gen. Townshend reported that she had not arrived, and that at midnight a burst of heavy firing had been heard at Magasis, some 9 miles from Kut by river, which had suddenly ceased. There could be but little doubt that the enterprise had failed, and the next day the Air Service reported the "Julnar " in the hands of the Turks at Magasis. The leaders of this brave attempt, Lieut. H.O.B. Firman, R.N., and his assistant, Lieut. Comdr. C.H. Cowley, R.N.V.R. - the latter of whom throughout the campaign in Mesopotamia performed magnificent service in command of the "Mejidieh", - have been reported by the Turks to have been killed; the remainder of the gallant crew, including five wounded, are prisoners of war. Knowing well the chances against them, all the gallant officers and men who manned the 'Julnar' for the occasion were volunteers. I trust that the services in this connection of Lieut. H.O.B. Firman, R.N., and Lieut. Comdr. C.H. Cowley, R.N.V.R., his assistant, both of whom were unfortunately killed, may be recognised by the posthumous grant of some suitable honour." The account of the award is preceded by the following paragraph: "The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the posthumous grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned officers in recognition of their conspicuous gallantry in an attempt to re-provision the force besieged in Kut-el-Amara."" In addition to the Victoria Cross, he also received the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal (1914-20), and the Victory Medal (1914-19). His Victoria Cross and other medals are on display at the York Castle Museum in York, North Yorkshire, England. In April 2008 a plaque in his honor was placed on the war memorial in New Malden, Surrey, England.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 12 Mar 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10602196
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman (24 Nov 1886–25 Apr 1916), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10602196, citing Basra Memorial, Al Basrah, Basra, Iraq ; Maintained by Find A Grave .