Frederick Daniel Parslow

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Frederick Daniel Parslow
Born 14 January 1856
Islington, London
Died 4 July 1915 (aged 59)
North Atlantic, off Ireland
Buried Cobh Old Church Cemetery, County Cork
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Merchant Navy, (Royal Naval Reserve)
Rank Master, (Lieutenant)
Unit HM Horse Transport 'Anglo-Californian'
Battles/wars World War I 
Awards Victoria Cross

Frederick Daniel Parslow VC (14 January 1856 – 4 July 1915) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Parslow was a Master in the Mercantile Marine, and the first from that Service to be awarded a Victoria Cross. He was the oldest person to receive the VC for actions in World War I.


He was 59 years old, and a Mercantile Marine Master during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was eventually awarded the VC in 1919. The award was delayed until after World War I because of his civilian status, and may have been influenced by the execution by the Germans of Mercantile Marine Captain Charles Fryatt of the ss Brussels as a franc-tireur on 27 July 1916. The Royal Navy gave Parslow a posthumous commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, and then awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

On 4 July 1915 in the Atlantic, south-west of Queenstown, Ireland, HM Horse Transport Anglo-Californian, commanded by Captain Parslow, was attacked by a submarine which made occasional hits although the Captain kept altering course. At last, on the point of abandoning ship in order to save lives, a message was received to hold on as long as possible and Anglo-Californian got under way again, whereupon the U-boat opened a very heavy fire, doing great damage. Captain Parslow remained on the bridge throughout the attack, entirely without protection and was killed when the bridge was wrecked.[1]

His son, also Frederick Parslow, was the Mate, and took command on the demise of his father. Commanding the ship with his father's body beside him, the son held out until two British destroyers arrived to drive the submarine away. The ship suffered twenty casualties, but its cargo of nearly a thousand military horses was safe.[2] The younger Parslow was given a commission as Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Reserve, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.[3]


  1. ^ "No. 31354". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 May 1919. pp. 6445–6446. 
  2. ^ Blunden, Mark (7 July 2015). "Honour for VC sailor who defied U-boat". London Evening Standard. p. 26. 
  3. ^ CWGC entry

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