Grangemouth firm ensures war heroes will be remembered over the long haul

Servicemen who performed heroics – often costing them their lives – on the war torn battlefields of the last century will never be forgotten.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 4:15 pm

Their names grace stone monuments and memorials around the world and now they can also be found moving along our motorways, roads and streets for all to see and remember.

Grangemouth’s John Mitchell Haulage recently decided to name some of its fleet after brave individuals who received the Victoria Cross during the course of serving their country in The First World War or World War Two – or in the case of the latest name to adorn the truck’s livery, both.

Slamannan-born Samuel Frickleton served in those two global conflicts, earning himself a VC for his selfless actions in Belgium in 1917 during the First World War.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Lynsey Mitchell, Mitchell Haulage admin assistant, and Robert Frickleton Jack at the naming ceremony

The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system and is awarded for valour “in the presence of the enemy” to members of the British Armed Forces.

Lynsey Mitchell, an admin assistant at the firm, was on hand to greet Robert Jack – whose mother was Samuel’s cousin and gave Robert the middle name Frickleton – at the special naming ceremony which took place at the weekend.

She said: “We have now named 42 of our fleet after people who received Victoria Cross medals. We choose naming themes people can relate to and people can certainly relate to honouring those who fought for their country.

“I think Robert enjoyed the ceremony, which was nice to see. The driver of the truck told him he knew all about Samuel Frickleton because when he found out whose name was going on the truck he went off and did some research.”

And there is a lot of detail available about this homegrown hero who – until relatively recently – was only well known in New Zealand, where he emigrated with his family in 1913 at the age of 22.

In February 1915 Samuel and four of his brothers volunteered to serve with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and were posted to the Middle East.

After becoming ill in Egypt, he was sent back to New Zealand in June that year and subsequently discharged as medically unfit for service.

However, fighting fit again in 1916 he re-enlisted with the NZEF and shipped out to France to serve as a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

Records show Lance Corporal Samuel Frickleton was involved in the Battle of Messines in West Flanders, Belgium.

On June 7, 1917 his battalion was attacking the edge of Messines village when it was pinned down by heavy fire from two German machine gun posts. What happened next is captured for all time in Frickleton’s official VC citation.

It states: “Although slightly wounded, he dashed forward at the head of his section, rushed through a barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine gun and crew which were causing heavy casualties.

“He then attacked the second gun, killing the crew of 12. By the destruction of these guns he undoubtedly saved his own and other units from very severe casualties and his magnificent courage and gallantry ensured the capture of the objective.”

Samuel was invested with the Victoria Cross by King George V on September 17, 1917, at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.

Returning to Scotland again in 1937, he was able to visit Slamannan for the last time before returning to New Zealand for good. He served on the home front during the Second World War, and eventually retired from the military in 1948 with the rank of captain.

Samuel died aged 80 in Wellington, New Zealand in 1971.

In 2010 Slamannan unveiled a memorial cairn to the man and his exploits.