David James (British politician)
|Member of Parliament
for Brighton Kemptown
8 October 1959 – 15 October 1964
|Preceded by||Howard Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Dennis Hobden|
|Member of Parliament
for North Dorset
18 June 1970 – 3 May 1979
|Preceded by||Richard Glyn|
|Succeeded by||Nicholas Baker|
|Born||David Pelham James
25 December 1919
|Died||15 December 1986(aged 66)|
|Spouse(s)||Jaquetta Digby (1950-1986; his death)|
|Relations||Archibald James (father)|
|Alma mater||Eton College|
|Occupation||Politician, author, adventurer|
|Years of service||1939-1945|
|Commands||Motor Gun Boat 79|
Early life and education
He was the eldest son of Sir Archibald James and Bridget James Miller (née Guthrie). He went first to Summer Fields School in Oxford and then Eton. After leaving there, in 1937, he sailed round the world "before the mast" in the 4-masted barque Viking, based out of the Finnish port of Mariehamn.
James served as a Lieutenant in command of Motor Gun Boats operating out of Felixstowe. In the early hours of Sunday 28 February 1943, his then vessel MGB 79, was sunk in action off the Hook of Holland. James and three of his crew were rescued from the water by a German trawler and were taken prisoner. He was sent to Marlag "O", the naval prisoner-of-war camp near Westertimke.
He attempted to escape in December 1943, slipping out of the shower block on a foggy morning, then crossed Germany wearing his full British naval uniform, but with forged papers identifying him as "I. Bagerov" of the Bulgarian Navy. James made it as far as the port of Lübeck and had made contact with the crew of a Swedish ship willing to smuggle him out of the country before he was arrested, and returned to the camp. His second escape in late 1944 was covered by "Albert R.N.", a life-sized dummy, that ensured that he would not be missed in the head-count. James again headed for the coast, posing as a merchant seaman, and this time made it to Sweden.
A self-penned account of his 11 months in (and out of) the camp was published in the UK as Prisoner's Progress (William Blackwood 1947) and in the US under the title Escaper's Progress (W. W. Norton 1955). A review at the time described the work as "one of the better escape books". In 1978, when the book was re-published in the UK in paperback as Escaper's Progress (Corgi), his original account of the escape, as prepared for Naval Intelligence was included as an appendix, having become de-classified. This has again been republished by Pen & Sword Ltd.
James was then chosen to act as Polar Advisor to director Charles Frend for the 1948 film production of Scott of the Antarctic, during which he appeared as John Mills' "body double" in a number of long shots in the snow. Never one to miss a book opportunity, James wrote Scott of the Antarctic: The Film and Its Production which was published by Lon Convoy, followed a year later, in 1949, by That Frozen Land - The story of a year in the Antarctic.
James was asked by George G. Harrap and Co. to co-edit, with J. Lennox Kerr, a book of wartime stories and experiences of RNVR members entitled Wavy Navy - By Some Who Served. (1950), and was then chosen by the daughter of Lord Roberts of Kandahar to write her father's biography, published by Hollis & Carter under the title Lord Roberts (1954).
In 1957 James wrote a book entitled Outward Bound, with a foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh, about the organisation of the same name and in 1960 co-edited, with The Field editor Wilson Stephens, In Praise of Fox Hunting, a series of essays by contributors such as Dick Francis, Jimmy Edwards and BBC show jumping commentator Dorian Williams.
In 1962, weeks before the birth of his youngest son, he featured on This Is Your Life, having been ambushed at Victoria Station by Eamonn Andrews and his red book, getting off the train from his home town of Haywards Heath.
Member of parliament
He was Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown from 1959 to 1964, when he lost, after a record seven recounts, by just 7 votes to Labour's Dennis Hobden (the first Labour MP for a Sussex constituency). James was subsequently elected as MP for North Dorset in 1970 and he served as member for that seat until his retirement in 1979, when he was succeeded by Sir Nicholas Baker.
Always a firm believer in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, he co-founded the "Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau" with naturalist Sir Peter Scott in 1962. In the 1964 election when he lost his Brighton seat, the narrowness of the result led to speculation that his stance on this 'issue' had been used against him by his political opponents, and may have proved decisive. His own view was that his campaign was sabotaged by extreme left wing infiltrators, in revenge for the assistance he had given to the exposure of ballot rigging in the Electrical Trades Union.
On 20 May 1950, he married Jaquetta Mary Theresa (née Digby) (born 28 October 1928), youngest daughter of Edward Kenelm Digby, 11th Baron Digby and sister of Pamela Churchill Harriman. They had six children, four sons and two daughters, born between 1951 and 1962. In 1979 he changed his name to David Guthrie-James to mark the connection between Clan Guthrie and his family home Torosay Castle on the Isle of Mull.
His friend John Robson wrote his biography which was published under the title One Man In His Time (Spellmount Ltd. 1998).
- Williams, Eric (1958). "The 'Bulgarian' Naval Officer". Great Escape Stories. The Heirloom Library. pp. 71–93. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Baker, Billy-Ace (July–September 2005). "Oscar-winning British actor Sir John Mills dies" (PDF). Explorer's Gazette (Pensacola, Florida: Old Antarctic Explorers Association, Inc.) 5 (3): 15–17. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- "Scott of the Antarctic: The Film and Its Production. - David James". molliesloft.com. 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Wavy Navy - By Some Who Served. - Kerr, J. Lennox & James, David (Eds.)". antiqbook.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Outward Bound - James, David". antiqbook.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Captain John Robson". The Daily Telegraph (London: TMG). 23 January 2012. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- Times Guide to the House of Commons October 1974
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs [self-published source][better source needed]
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by David James
- David James appearance on This Is Your Life
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown
Sir Richard Glyn
|Member of Parliament for North Dorset
Sir Nicholas Baker