Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Lieutenant Humphrey Osbadleston Brooke Firman V.C., the Royal Navy, was killed in action in at Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia.
He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1901. He served aboard the battleship Glory on the China Station, then the battleships Albion and Illustrious in the Channel Fleet as well as the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1908, after which he saw service in the Persian Gulf and off the Horn of Africa
At the outbreak of the Great War he was sent to Mesopotamia to join the fleet of river boats and was given the command of the new HMS Greenfly, which was one of sixteen new “Butterfly” class vessels commissioned for the Royal Navy. On the day of his death he was aboard the Julnar, and his Victoria Cross citation tells the story: “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”.
Lieutenant Firman’s body was believed to have been found in the cabin and buried by the Turks at Magasis. It is not known if his grave had a marker, but if so it was lost over time. His name is on the Basra Memorial, and his Victoria Cross is in the York Castle Museum.
Humphrey, from New Malden in Surrey, was 29 years old.