Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman
|Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman|
24 November 1886|
24 April 1916 †|
|Unit||SS SS Julnar|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Humphrey Osbaldston Brooke Firman VC (24 November 1886 – 24 April 1916) 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.
Firman was born in 1886 to H. B. Firman, J.P., of New Malden, Surrey. When he was 29 years old, and a lieutenant in the Royal Navy during the First World War, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his deeds on the night of 24 April 1916 in Mesopotamia in an attempt to resupply the forces trapped in the Siege of Kut. He was killed in action.
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.
A plaque bearing his name was unveiled on the war memorial in New Malden, Surrey in April 2008. A stone slab memorial to Firman is set into the pavement on the south side of South Kensington tube station and was unveiled on 25 April 2016.
His Victoria Cross is held at the York Castle Museum.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - The Naval VCs (Stephen Snelling, 2002)