Bernard Cyril Freyberg was born in Richmond, London, on 21 March, 1889. He was the youngest son of James Freyberg, a surveyor and his wife, Julia Hamilton. He came to Wellington in 1891 and received all of his early schooling from his mother.
He also attended Wellington College from 1897 to 1904. Although he was not academically inclined, he made his mark as a sportsman, being both an excellent swimmer and yachtsman.
Freyberg’s first major military involvement came in August 1914, when he set off for England to fight in the First World War. He was commissioned in the Royal Naval Division ‘Hood’ Battalion. He took part in the 1914 attempt to defend Antwerp that failed. Early in the Gallipoli campaign he swam ashore and set diversionary flares at Bulair; for this act of bravery he was awarded a DSO.
After being wounded twice in action at Gallipoli, Freyberg was evacuated with the rest of the Royal Naval Division in January 1916. He did so as the Commander of the Hood Division.
Freyberg was awarded a Victoria Cross for his efforts in capturing the village of Beaucort, in the dying stages of the Battle of the Somme.
From 1919, Freyberg retained a permanent position in the British army and settled into peacetime soldiering.
In 1922, Freyberg married Barbara McLaren, a widow with two children. They would have one son together.
At the beginning of the Second World War, Freyberg was appointed Commander of the 2nd New Zealand Division. Together with this division, Freyberg took part in the Greek campaign and 1941evacuation of Crete. Despite criticisms of failings in the Greek campaign from subordinates, Freyberg was immensely popular with his troops as he took great care to ensure their welfare.
Freyberg was made a Lieutenant General in 1942. Under his leadership, the New Zealand Division was instrumental in the Battle of El Alamein in October-November 1942 and also in the Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944. In both cases Freyberg was anxious to ensure that New Zealand lives were not needlessly lost.
When Freyberg, retired from command of the division on 22nd November 1945 he accepted an offer to become the Governor General of New Zealand, the first to have had a New Zealand upbringing. In 1951, Freyberg was raised to the peerage becoming the Baron Freyberg (Lord Freyberg) of Wellington, New Zealand and of Munstead, in the County of Surrey.
Freyberg died on 4th July 1963, following the rupture of one his Gallipoli wounds. He is remembered as New Zealand’s greatest soldier and one of its bravest, most compassionate and considerate military commanders.
The House logo of Freyberg is based on the Victoria Cross, which was awarded to Bernard Freyberg for his efforts in WW1’s Battle of Somme. The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration, and is awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”. Members of Freyberg House strive to demonstrate “valour” in all that they do. Their logo reminds them to be “courageous under fire,” so that no matter how much pressure they find themselves under, they will continue to fight on.