Frederick Harold Tubb was born to Harry and Emma Eliza (nee Abbott) Tubb at ‘St Helena’ Longwood, Victoria on 28 November 1881. Educated at East Longwood State School, he left to manage his father's property and later become a grazier in his own right. He was active in the community being secretary to the local Mechanics’ Institute and a member of the gun and tennis clubs.
An excellent horseman, Tubb served in the Victorian Mounted Rifles, the Australian Light Horse and the 60th (Princes Hill) Infantry Regiment. This interest in the military continued when he joined the 58th Infantry Regiment (Essendon Rifles) in 1913, holding a commission of 2nd lieutenant at the outbreak of the First World War.
Tubb enlisted on 24 August 1914, only 20 days after the proclamation of war, and was posted as a 2nd lieutenant to 7 Battalion AIF, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott. On 19 October the battalion embarked at Melbourne on HMAT ‘Hororata’ bound for the Middle East with Tubb as Transport Officer. He was promoted lieutenant on 3 February 1915 and captain on 6 August, three days before the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
In August the battalion was temporarily attached to the 1st Brigade and took part in the assault on the enemy trenches at Lone Pine. The assault was a diversionary tactic designed to occupy the enemy forces of Turkish Commander Essad Pasha from reinforcing his troops at Sari Bair, site of the main Anzac push. The offensive soon overwhelmed many of the enemy trenches but at great cost. 7 Battalion, originally directed to take Johnson's Jolly at dawn on 7 August in the event of a successful assault on Lone Pine, was gradually depleted of men as it met requests for reinforcements from other units.
At 4am that morning the battalion was given the order to stand to arms for their attack on Johnson's Jolly but as no order to proceed eventuated it waited in close reserve. At 6pm, the battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry ‘Pompey’ Elliott, sent 32 bomb (grenade) throwers to Lone Pine in response to an urgent request from 1 Brigade Headquarters. By mid-afternoon the following day, the remaining men of 7 Battalion moved to Lone Pine to relieve the exhausted troops of 1 and 2 Battalions.
In the early hours of 9 August the Turks made a determined counter-attack against the captured trenches. The historian CEW Bean wrote that the intensity of the fire was such that ‘[a]ll the periscopes of the watching sentries were quickly shattered. Bayonets were broken. Sandbags, torn and ripped, emptied themselves and then slipped into the trenches...’ At Goldenstedt’s Post in the southern sector, a heavy attack was repulsed by Lieutenant Symons who was redeployed to retake Jacob’s Trench which had been overrun by the Turks. Symons was replaced at Goldenstedt’s by Lieutenant Frederick Tubb, together with 10 men, including corporals Dunstan and Burton.
The lull at Goldenstadt’s following Symons’ actions there was only momentary. The Turks attacked in force, using bombs (hand grenades) with great effect. Tubb had ordered two men, Corporals Webb and Wright, to remain on the trench floor to return the bombs before they could explode or to smother them with sandbags or Turkish overcoats that had been left behind by the enemy. The other men manned the parapet, shooting any Turks that made their way up the trench or who attempted to rush the post across the open ground between the opposing trenches.
The bombs continued to wreak havoc on Tubb’s company. Soon only Tubb, Dunstan and Burton remained. The barricade protecting the post was then hit with a violent explosion that blew down the sandbags and threw the three men down. They managed to drive off the attackers and were attempting to rebuild the barricade when a bomb exploded between them, killing Burton and severely injuring Dunstan in the face and eyes, temporarily blinding him. Tubb managed to obtain more men from an adjoining trench but by that time the Turkish assault had subsided and the post held. During the action Tubb himself received scalp and elbow wounds.
For their actions all three men were awarded the Victoria Cross. The recommendation for Tubb's VC reads:
'I have the honour to recommend that the name of Lieut. F.H. Tubb 7th Battalion A.I.F., be submitted to the G.O.C. in C. for consideration for the Victoria Cross in recognition of his conspicuous gallantry in action. During the action at Lone Pine on the early morning of the 9th August 1915, the enemy made a determined counter attack in the centre of the captured trenches held by Lieut. F.H. Tubb and men of the 7th Battalion. Advancing up a sap the enemy blew up the sand bag barricade leaving only one foot of it standing. Lieut. Tubb lead his men back, cleared the sap, and rebuilt the barricade. Supported by a strong bomb attack the enemy again succeeded in blowing in the barricade wounding Lieut. Tubb on the head. After the sand bags had been replaced a second time and again blown up by the enemy, Lieut. Tubb for the third time rebuilt the barricade, and succeeded in maintaining his position under heavy bomb fire. Throughout the action Lieut. Tubb distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry exposing himself freely in order to inflict losses on the enemy and to encourage his men at a very critical period of the defence.'
Following the action, Tubb was invalided to England and took no further part in the Gallipoli campaign. While recuperating further surgery was required to remove his appendix on 27 December. Physically weak due to effects of the wounds and exacerbated by the surgery, Tubb was sent to Australia to convalesce in March 1916. When asked by reporters on his return to describe his action he replied ‘I did not do a darned thing, when you consider what 6000 other fellows did but they did not survive that terrible four days and I did’. He left Australia in early October and rejoined his battalion, now in France, on 10 December.
Tubb was promoted to the rank of major in February 1917. In June he again became ill and was invalided to England, rejoining his unit on 7 August. On the 20th of the following month the battalion took part in the fighting around Passchendaele. Near Polygon Wood Tubb’s company seized nine pillboxes only to come under allied shelling when the supporting artillery barrage fell short. Tubb was mortally wounded by one of the shells and died later that evening.
Frederick Tubb is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinge, Belgium. Three of his brothers also served in the AIF: Lieutenant Arthur Oswald Tubb, Sapper Alfred Charles Tubb and Captain Frank Reid Tubb. Frank also served in 7 Battalion, gaining a Military Cross in fighting around Pozieres in August 1916.