James Hills-Johnes

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Sir James Hills-Johnes
Birth name James Hills
Born 20 August 1833
Neechindipur, British India
Died 3 January 1919 (aged 85)
Dolaucothi Estate, Carmarthenshire
Buried Caio, Carmarthenshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Bengal Army
 British Indian Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Bengal Horse Artillery
Royal Artillery
Battles/wars Indian Mutiny
Abyssinian War
Second Anglo-Afghan War
Awards Victoria Cross
Order of the Bath
Relations W.G. Cubitt VC (brother-in-law)

Lieutenant General Sir James Hills-Johnes VC GCB (added Johnes after his marriage) (20 August 1833 – 3 January 1919) was a Welsh recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


He was born in Neechindipur in Bengal, India, the son of James Hills, and was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and the Addiscombe Military Seminary. He entered the Bengal Artillery in 1853 and served in the Indian Rebellion, winning the Victoria Cross at the Siege of Delhi. He also present at the Siege of Lucknow (1858), fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80), and was made military governor of Kabul.

He was awarded a KCB in 1881 and GCB in 1893.

VC details[edit]

He was 23 years old, and a Second Lieutenant in the Bengal Horse Artillery, Bengal Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following deed took place at the Siege of Delhi on 9 July 1857 for which he and Henry Tombs were awarded the Victoria Cross:

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Tombs, C.B., and Lieutenant James Hills

Date of Act of Bravery, 9 July 1857

For very gallant conduct on the part of Lieutenant Hills before Delhi, in defending the position assigned to him in case of alarm, and for noble behaviour on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Tombs in twice coming to his subaltern's rescue, and on each occasion killing his man. (See despatch of Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie, Commanding 1st Brigade Horse Artillery, dated Camp, near Delhi, 10 July 1857, published in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 16 January 1858.)[1]

He later achieved the rank of Lieutenant General serving with the Royal Artillery.

Later life[edit]

He was High Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1886 and made an honorary freeman of the town of Carmarthen in 1910.

He died in 1919 at his Dolaucothi Estate, being buried at Caio, Carmarthenshire. He had married in 1882, Elizabeth, younger daughter and coheiress of John Johnes of Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire and assumed the additional surname of Johnes. He was the brother-in-law of Lieutenant W.G. Cubitt VC and uncle of Brigadier Lewis Pugh Evans VC.

Hills family history says his younger brother Charles Hills (1847–1935) was the real father of Hollywood actress Merle Oberon.[2]

The medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, London.

Memorial to Lt General Sir James Hills-Johnes in the lychgate of the Caio churchyard


  1. ^ "No. 22131". The London Gazette. 27 April 1858. p. 2050. 
  2. ^ MacNair, Miles (2013). Indigo & Opium: two remarkable families and fortunes won and lost. Studley: Brewin Books. ISBN 9781858585178. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Vetch, R.H.; Stearn, Roger T. (reviewer) (2011) [2004]. "Hills, Sir John (1834–1902)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 November 2010.  (includes details of Sir James Hills-Johnes) (subscription required)
  • Vibart, H.M. (1894). Addiscombe: its heroes and men of note. Westminster: Archibald Constable. pp. 608–13. 

External links[edit]