Second Lieutenant Herbert James V.C. M.C.

2nd Lieutenant Herbert James V.C. M.C.

2nd Lieutenant Herbert James V.C. M.C.

Born in Birmingham in October 1887 and brought up in Edgbaston. After leaving school he worked as a teacher in Birmingham. In April 1909 he joined the 21st Lancers as a trooper where he served in Egypt and later in India. In July 1911 he was promoted to Lance-Corporal. November 1914 he became the 2nd Lieutenant James of the 4th Worcestershire Regiment.

As a Second Lieutenant on 22nd March 1915 he was posted to the Gallipoli Peninsula. On 25th April they landed and fought for two days to secure the landing. In this action he was wounded.

Returning to the Battalion on 16th June 1915 he was to take part in a Brigade offensive on the Turkish trenches that started on 28th June. Lieutenant James, as a liaison officer at one point found himself re-organising men of the Royal Scots after their officers had fallen. On 2nd July The Worcestershire Regiment led a fresh attack in which Lieutenant James led one of two thirty men attacks on the Turkish sapheads. He was the sole survivor of his pary but despite this held the saphead long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

The action that won James his V.C.

The action that won James his V.C.

His Citation reads
“For most conspicuous bravery during the operations in the Southern Zone of the Gallipoli Peninsula. On 28th June, 1915, when a portion of the Regiment had been checked, owing to all the officers being put out of action, Second-Lieutenant James, who belonged to a neighbouring Unit, entirely on his own initiative, gathered together a body of men and led them forward under heavy shell and rifle fire. He then returned organised a second party and again advanced. His gallant example put fresh life into the attack. On 3rd July, in the same locality, Second-Lieutenant James headed a party of bomb throwers up a Turkish communication trench and after nearly all his throwers had been killed or wounded he remained alone at the head of the trench and kept back the enemy single-handed until a barrier had been built behind him and the trench secured. He was throughout exposed to murderous fire.”
London Gazette, 1st September 1915

On 5th September 1916 he married Gladys Beatrice Devonport, daughter of a Royal Engineers officer.

On the1st May 1917 he was awarded the French Croix de Guerne. And then on the first day of 1918 he was given local brevet rank of Major for service in the field. In October 1918 was awarded the Military Cross and in February 1920 he received the honorary award of the Panamanian Medal de la Solidaridad.

Herbert James medals

Herbert James medals

He remained in the army after the war, transferring in December 1920 to the East Lancashire Regiment as Captain. He served in the West Indies before entering Staff College, and took up the post of Staff Captain at the War Office. Between October 1927 and November 1928 he was Brigade Major in the Aldershot command. He retired from the army in 1930 due to ill health.

Being a very modest man of a retiring nature he chose to live in obscurity so much so that when he died on August 15th 1958 in London, his landlord has no idea that he was the holder of a Victoria Cross.


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