Fortune, Sir Victor Morven


Victor Morven Fortune was the son of John Fortune of Bengairn, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire.   He came to Winchester, going into Culver House (Fearon’s) in 1897 with Mr Kensington.   He left in December 1901 and went to RMC Sandhurst.  He was commissioned into the Black Watch in 1903.    His pre-war military career was uneventful –  after eleven years service, he was a lieutenant in “A” Company 1st Battalion Black Watch with whom he went overseas with the original British Expeditionary Force.  He spent the entire war on the Western Front.    He was adjutant 1st Black Watch from November 1914 to September 1915, when he became a Brigade Major, winning the DSO.   In September 1916 he started his command of his battalion and continued in this role until January 1918.  This was a long period of command in such conditions and his appointment that month as Commandant Fourth Army Musketry School might be considered a rest.   At the end of June 1918 he was promoted Brigadier General and given command of 46th brigade in 15th (Scottish) Division where he stayed until the end of the war.

After the war he was Commanding Officer of 8th Black Watch and Commandant of the School of Musketry.  He was OC Cadet Company RMA and Assistant Commandant Small Arms School before commanding 1st Seaforth Highlanders in 1927.

After a two-year tour with the Seaforths, Fortune became GSO1 5th Division (1930-2), commander 5th Infantry Brigade 1932-5), T/GOC 52nd (Lowland) Division (1935-6), GIC SW Area (1937-8) and, finally, GOC 51st (Highland) Division (3 January 1938). In 1939 he once more went to war with the BEF, but was captured – along with his division – at St Valery on 14 June 1940.  He spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War.

During his imprisonment he was briefly involved in the Katyn massacre investigations in Poland.     Held in a nearby POW camp Fortune was expected to meet the American Senior Officer, Colonel Van Vliet and another American prisoner of war, Captain Donald Stewart at Kassel railway station on their way to Poland to act as independent witnesses to the German investigations.   However, he failed to appear, causing the Germans some surprise.

He suffered a stroke in 1944 and was offered repatriation which he refused, saying he brought his men out, he would come back with them.  He was finally released in 1945 and was knighted shortly afterwards.

He married Eleanor, daughter of Arthur Jackson Steel of Kirkwood, Lockerbie.  They had a son, John Bruce Forester Fortune (I, 1934-1940)

He died on 2nd January 1949 in Scotland and lies in the Auchencairn Cemetery, Dumfries and Galloway.   His inscription in War Cloister records his “five years service to his men as Prisoner of War”.

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Fortune
  • Forenames or initials: Sir Victor Morven
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1897-1901
  • Rank: Major General
  • Regiment: Black Watch
  • Date of Birth: 21st August 1883
  • Date of Death: 2nd January 1949
  • How Died: Died of Illness
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner C1
  • Decoration: KBE., CB., DSO, Legion d'Honneur, Order of the Phoenix (Greece)
  • Burial Site: Auchencairn Cemetery, Dumfries and Galloway