James Marshall (VC)

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James Neville Marshall
Victoria Cross Medal without Bar.png
Born(1887-06-12)12 June 1887
Manchester, Lancashire
Died4 November 1918(1918-11-04) (aged 31)
Sambre–Oise Canal, France
Ors Communal Cemetery
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
RankLieutenant Colonel
UnitIrish Guards
Commands held16th bn, The Lancashire Fusiliers
Battles/warsWorld War I
Edith Maud Taylor
(m. 1911)

James Neville Marshall VC, MC & Bar (12 June 1887 – 4 November 1918), was an English 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.

Marshall was born in Manchester in 1887. His family moved to Oxford Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham in around 1894, his father being a draper. James Neville went to King Edwards School and after leaving worked at the Birmingham and Midland Institute and in the Medical Faculty of the University of Birmingham in a clerical capacity. He studied veterinary practice, then worked in this field in Harlow, Essex. He started off the First World War in Argentina, buying horses but then enlisted in the Irish Guards.[1] Marshall married Edith Maud Taylor, daughter of successful maltster Mr. Henry Algernon Taylor on the 20th of September 1911.[2] Following her husband's death, Mrs. Marshall never remarried.

He was 31 years old, and an acting Lieutenant Colonel in the Irish Guards, British Army, attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers, commanding 16th Battalion during the First World War at the battle of Sambre when the events took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 4 November 1918 at the Sambre–Oise Canal, near Catillon, France, when a partly constructed bridge was badly damaged before the advanced troops of his battalion could cross, Marshall organised repair parties. The first party were soon killed or wounded, but the colonel's personal example was such that more volunteers were instantly forthcoming. Under intense fire and with complete disregard of his own safety, he stood on the bank encouraging his men and helping in the work. When the bridge was repaired he attempted to lead his men across, but was killed in the attack.[3][4] Wilfred Owen was killed in the same engagement soon after the bridge was crossed as he encouraged his men.

He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgium) and was made a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold (Belgium). His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Guards Regimental Headquarters (Irish Guards RHQ), London, England.

Marshall is commemorated at Harlow War Memorial Institute and on their website.[5]

Marshall is also commemorated in both the St.Marys (Churchgate Street) and Old Harlow Baptists' Church on their memorials to the fallen of Harlow.[1]

James Marshall is also mentioned several times in Pat Barker's Booker Prize-winning novel The Ghost Road, in which he is referred to as 'Colonel Marshall-of-the-Ten-Wounds'.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Our impact" (PDF). Birmingham University.
  2. ^ "Lt Col. James Neville Marshall". hwmi. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  3. ^ "No. 31178". The London Gazette. 11 February 1919. pp. 2249–2250.
  4. ^ CWGC entry
  5. ^ Memorial Section Harlow War Memorial Institute
  6. ^ "The Ghost Road Characters". GradeSaver. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2020.

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