Frederick Maurice Watson Harvey VC, CBE, MC, Croix de Guerre.
b. 01/09/1888 Athboy, County Meath, Ireland. d. 24/08/1980 Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada.
Frederick Maurice Watson Harvey (1888-1980) was born on 1st September 1888 at Athboy, County Meath, Ireland. His father was the Reverend Alfred Thomas Harvey, who was Vicar of Kentstown Rectory, Navan, County Meath and later at the Rectory, Athboy. Frederick’s mother was Ida Suzette nee Wegelin, who was from Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and married Alfred on 3rd August 1875 in Rathdown, Ireland. Frederick was one of seven children.
Frederick was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, Ireland and Ellesmere College, Shropshire from 1899-1902, where he was in the School Cadets. He was a keen sportsman and was one of three VCs to play for the Wanderers Rugby Football Club, Dublin; the others were Thomas Crean VC and Robert Johnston VC. Frederick also played for Ireland against Wales in 1907 and France in 1911 as fullback. He emigrated to Canada in 1908 and worked as a surveyor in Northern Alberta and High River, before settling in Fort Macleod in c.1911. By 1914, he was a rancher at Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Frederick married Winifred Lilian Patterson in 1914 and they had a son, Denis Frederick. Sadly, Denis would be killed in action in Holland in 1945. Frederick served with 23rd Alberta Rangers at Fort Macleod, part of the South Alberta Light Horse, which raised three regiments of Canadian Mounted Rifles for service in the First World War: 3rd, 12th and 13th. Frederick enlisted on 8th February 1915 at Fort Macleod and served in 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He was promoted to Corporal on 15th February and acting Sergeant on 24th February. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 20th March 1916 and was serving at Medicine Hat in May. He sailed to England aboard RMS Olympic on 19th June, arriving on 5th July. His wife also went to England and worked in an ammunition factory.
He transferred to the Royal Canadian Regiment and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on 19th July, following the disbandment of 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles. On 22nd July, he was attached to Lord Strathcona’s Horse Reserve Regiment at Shorncliffe, and proceeded to France on 22nd November to the Canadian Base Depot and joined Lord Strathcona’s Horse on 27th November.
During an attack by his regiment on a village of Guyencourt on 27th March 1917, a party of the enemy ran forward to a wired trench just in front of the village, and opened rapid fire and machine-gun fire at a very close range, causing heavy casualties in the leading troop. At this critical moment, when the enemy showed no intention whatever of retiring, and fire was still intense, Lt. Harvey, who was in command of the leading troops, ran forward well ahead of his men and dashed at the trench, skilfully manned, jumped the wire, shot the machine-gunner and captured the gun. His most courageous act undoubtedly had a decisive effect on the success of the operations.
He was originally recommended for the Military Cross, but it was upgraded to DSO at Corps HQ and VC at HQ, BEF. Frederick had a generous allocation of leave during which the VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Moreuil on 30th March 1918 for his fearless leading of the men which overcame the resistance of the enemy, although the latter were in superior numbers. He engaged many of them in single combat and, although wounded and suffering from loss of blood, continued to fight forward until he joined up with another mounted party. This action also saw the award of a posthumous VC to Gordon Flowerdew.
Frederick was treated for gunshot wounds and evacuated to Rouen on 31st March and to Britain on 2nd April. He was admitted to Prince of Wales’ Hospital for Officers in Marylebone, London. The Military Cross was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 10th July 1918. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre. He left England for Canada on 21st May 1919 and was admitted to Manitoba Military Hospital, Winnipeg on 4th December 1919 with Ptomaine poisoning after eating spoiled oysters. He was appointed Instructor of Physical Education at the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario between 1923-1927. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command of Lord Strathcona’s Horse at Currie Barracks, Calgary on 15th December 1938.
He was promoted to Brigadier and appointed District Officer Commanding 13th Military District at Alberta on 10th July 1940. He went back to Britain in 1944 for a two and a half months tour of the Canadian Army. He retired in December 1945 and was Honorary Colonel of Lord Strathcona’s Horse from 1958-1966. After retirement he travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Britain to attend various horse shows and races. He attended the VC Centenary Celebrations in Hyde Park, London on 26th June 1956.
Frederick died at Colonel Belcher Hospital, Calgary, Alberta on 24th August 1980 and he was buried in Union Cemetery, Fort Macleod, Alberta. In addition to his VC and MC, he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal 1939-45 with Maple Leaf clasp, George V Jubilee Medal 1935, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal 1977, Canadian Centennial Medal 1967, Canadian Forces Decoration with Two Bars and French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Palm. His VC is held by the Lord Strathcona’s (Royal Canadians) Museum, Calgary, Alberta.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: MUSEUM OF THE REGIMENTS, CALGARY, ALBERTA.