b. 19/09/1878 Seaford, Sussex. d. 13/08/1915 Meditteranean Sea.
Cuthbert Bromley (1878-1915) was born as the second son of John and Marie Louis Bromley (nee Bowman) on 19th September 1878. Most sources state his birthplace as Sutton Corner, Seaford, Sussex, though the 1881 Census has him being born at 6 Earls Terrace, Shepherd’s Bush, London. His father was a senior civil servant whose distinguished career included appointments as Principal Clerk in Charge of the Audit of Army Accounts (1901) and Accountant General of the Board of Education (1903-1909) and which culminated in him being knighted in 1908.
Cuthbert entered St Paul’s School, Barnes in September 1890 and had a reputation as an enthusiastic sportsman. He was less academic however, and when in came to choosing his future career, he didn’t choose the same path as his three brothers. Instead of a medical or civil service career, he chose the Army, gaining a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers in May 1898, after serving a spell in a militia unit, the 3rd King’s Liverpool Regiment.
Promoted to Lieutenant later that year, he was gazetted captain and volunteered for the West African Frontier Force in 1901. He saw a good deal of active service in Eastern Nigeria and qualified for the Aro Expedition clasp to his African General Service Medal. Bromley then returned to the Lancashire Fusiliers, then stationed in India, and served as a transport officer, before an appointment as superintendent of Gymnasia in Ireland in 1906. Cuthbert was noted for his immense physical strength, and had on one occasion, swum from Malta to Gozo. He decided to re-join the Lancashire Fusiliers before his appointment with the Gymnasia had finished.
Barely three months before the start of the Great War, he was made adjutant of the battalion, and became the ship’s adjutant on the SS Arcadian during the 29th Division’s passage to the Dardanelles. On the 25th April, 1915, headquarters and three companies of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by very deadly fire from hidden machine guns, which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. Amongst the many very gallant officers and men engaged in this most hazardous undertaking, Captain Bromley, Serjeant Stubbs, and Corporal Grimshaw have been selected by their comrades as having performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty.
He had injured his back during the landing on W Beach, but refused to leave the unit. Three days later, at Krithia, he was hit by a bullet just above the knee, meaning he was forced into a spell in hospital. He returned to the battalion on 17th May, as soon as he was able to hobble. He took part in the assault on Krithia on 4th June, bravely mounting the parapet exposing himself to enemy fire. He was promoted to Temporary Major and was given command of the depleted battalion on 13th June when the Commanding Officer fell ill.
He then led his men over the top during the Battle of Gully Ravine on 28th June 1915. He was wounded early on in the foot, but insisted on continuing. He moved forward using a couple of Turkish rifles as crutches, and eventually ordered two stretcher bearers to carry him. The wound proved serious enough for him to be evacuated to the Anglo-American Hospital in Cairo. He found himself convalescing for over 6 weeks in Cyprus. He was finally passed fit on 9th August, and wasted no time in obtaining a return trip to Gallipoli aboard the next available troopship, SS Royal Edward.
Tragically, on 13th August 1915, while crossing the Mediterranean, the vessel was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine UB-14 with the loss of 866 lives, including Cuthbert. His body was not recovered from the sea and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. In addition to his VC (which was not gazetted until 15th March 1917 and presented to his parents on 31st March 1917 at Buckingham Palace by King George V), he was awarded the Africa General Service Medal 1902-1956 with two clasps for Aro 1901-02 and S Nigeria 1902, the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. His medals are held by the family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: LOST AT SEA - NAME ON HELLES MEMORIAL, GALLIPOLI.
Cuthbert Bromley's name on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey
Cuthbert Bromley's medals on display at the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum in Bury in May 2015. It was reunited with the other 5 "Six Before Breakfast VC's" for a special exhibition.
Freemasons Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)