A First World War hero from Westminster who saved 38 lives was awarded a commemorative plaque on 8th May in Victoria Embankment Garden.
The service was in remembrance and commemoration of the actions of Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Heneage Drummond.
Geoffrey Drummond was born in 1886 at 13 St James’ Place in Westminster. He was the son of Algernon Drummond, who had served in the Rifle Brigade, and later worked for Drummonds Bank. Geoffrey took up yachting at a young age, and decided to join the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1915 at the age of 31.
In 1917 he was appointed in command of Motor Launch 254, based in Dover. On 23rd April 1918, the Royal Navy took part in the raids on the German occupied ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend, and although the Zeebrugge raid was successful, the Ostend raid was called off due to changing winds. Another attempted raid on Ostend took place on the night of 9th to 10th May, with the ship HMS Vindictive being used to block Ostend’s harbour.
As part of this plan, HMS Vindictive had to scuttle itself during the raid. Keeping up with the larger ship, Geoffrey Drummond’s Motor Launch 254 came to the crew’s rescue, and successfully rescued 38 men from HMS Vindictive, in spite of a shell bursting aboard the ML254 which wounded Geoffrey and killed two men.
Geoffrey Drummond together with Lieutenant Rowland Bourke RNVR (Commanding Officer of ML276) and Lieutenant Victor Crutchley RN (First Lieutenant of HMS VINDICTIVE) were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions that day.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster City Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “It is an honour to remember and commemorate the actions of Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Heneage Drummond, whose incredible bravery should not be forgotten. We are thankful for this opportunity to bring together the military and civilian communities in Westminster in common purpose.”
The Victoria Cross Commemoration events are one of the many ways in which the City of Westminster and the Armed Forces will honour those who served during the First World War during the centenary period of 2014 to 2018.
With over 20 descendants of Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Heneage Drummond having attended the service, it was apparent that his heroic legacy has a positive impact on many lives.
John Drummond, the grandson of Geoffrey Drummond said: “ On behalf of the 25 Drummond family members here today, I would firstly like to thank the Westminster City Council for commemorating my grandfather, so that his bravery and that of all those who participated in the Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids are not forgotten. Secondly, although he was born a mile away in St James’s Place, I am delighted his memorial stone is beside the River Thames, as he died on active service in 1941 downstream from here, as an Able Seaman in the Royal Naval Patrol Service, having been told that he was too old to return as an officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. A modest man, I think he would nevertheless have been very pleased and honoured to be remembered here.”
Geoffrey Heneage Drummond ended the war as a Lieutenant Commander RNVR and was also awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the President of France.