Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg VC, GCMG, KCB, KBE, DSO & Three Bars (21 March 1889 – 4 July 1963) was a British-born soldier and Victoria Cross recipient, who later served as the seventh Governor-General of New Zealand from 1946 to 1952.
A veteran of the Mexican Revolution, he became an officer in the British Army during the First World War. Freyberg took part in the beach landings during the Gallipoli Campaign and was the youngest general in the British Army during the First World War, later serving on the Western Front where he was decorated with the Victoria Cross and three DSOs, making him one of the most highly decorated British Empire officers of the First World War. He liked to be in the thick of the action — Winston Churchill called him “the Salamander” due to his ability to pass through fire unharmed.
During the Second World War, he commanded the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Battle of Crete, the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign. Freyberg was involved in the Allied defeat in the Battle of Greece, defeated again as the Allied commander in the Battle of Crete and performed successfully in the North African Campaign commanding the New Zealand division, including the Battle of El Alamein.
In Italy, he was defeated again at the Second Battle of Cassino as a corps commander, but later relieved Padua and Venice, and was one of the first to enter Trieste, where he successfully confronted Josip Broz Tito‘s Partisans. By the end of the Second World War, Freyberg had spent ten and a half years fighting the Germans.