James Morris Colquhoun Colvin

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James Morris Colquhoun Colvin
Born 26 August 1870
Bijnor, United Provinces, India
Died 7 December 1945
Stanway, Essex
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Rank Colonel
Unit Royal Engineers
Battles/wars Chitral Expedition
Mohmand Campaign
Malakand Frontier War
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Relations Sir Noel Beresford-Peirse (son-in-law)

Colonel James Morris Colquhoun Colvin VC (26 August 1870 – 7 December 1945) 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.

Early life[edit]

Colvin was born in Bijnor, United Provinces, British India. His father was James Colquhoun Colvin of the Manor House, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, and his mother was Camilla Fanny Marie Morris, eldest daughter of the Rev. Edward Morris. His father served with the Bengal Civil Service and was awarded the India Mutiny medal for his role in the defence of the House of Arrah. Their extended family was long established in the British East Indies as soldiers and administrators, and included Sir John Russell Colvin, Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces during the Indian Mutiny, his sons Sir Auckland, K.C.S.I. and Sir Elliot Graham, K.C.S.I. Their most notable cousin in England was the writer and curator Sir Sidney Colvin,[1] known for his friendship of the young Robert Louis Stevenson.

Military service[edit]

He was educated at Charterhouse and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He was awarded the Pollock Gold Medal and Memoir as a Cadet Senior Under Officer for distinguished proficiency; the Regulation Sword for exemplary conduct; a travelling clock, aneroid barometer, thermometer and compass for maths and mechanics. These awards were presented to him by H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge after his inspection of cadets at RMA Woolwich, on 26 July 1889.

Colvin joined the Royal Engineers on 27 July 1889 and served in the Chitral Relief Force in 1895 with the 4th Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners.

Mohmand Campaign[edit]

Colvin was 27 years old, and a lieutenant in the Corps of Royal Engineers, British Army during the Mohmand Campaign, India when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On the night of 16/17 September 1897, in the Mohmand Valley, North West British India, Lieutenant Colvin was with Lieutenant Thomas Colclough Watson who collected a party of volunteers and led them into the dark and burning village of Bilot, to try to dislodge the enemy who were inflicting losses on British Army troops. When his brother officer had been incapacitated by wounds, Lieutenant Colvin continued the fight and made two more attempts to clear the enemy from the village. He was conspicuous during the whole night for his devotion to his men, in the most exposed positions and under very heavy fire. See also James Smith

The award of the Victoria Cross was published in the London Gazette on 20 May 1898. The citation read;

Lieutenant James Morris Colquhoun Colvin, Lieut., Royal Engineers. On the same occasion, after Lieutenant Watson had been incapacitated by his wounds from further effort, Lieutenant Colvin continued the fight and persisted in two more attempts to clear the enemy out of the dark and still burning village. He was conspicuous during the whole night for his devotion to his men in the most exposed positions under a heavy fire from the enemy.[2]

Colvin served with the Malakand Field Force, 1897–98, where he took part in operations in Bajaur, the Mohmand Country and in Bruner (mentioned-in-Despatches L.G. 11 January 1898).

Second Boer War[edit]

Colvin served in South Africa 1901-02 during the Second Boer War as Special Service Officer. In May 1901 he was appointed an Aide-de-camp to Lieutenant-General Sir Bindon Blood,[3] who was stationed in eastern Transvaal. He stayed in South Africa until the war ended in May 1902, and left for Calcutta on the SS Umlazi two months later.[4] For his service in the war, he was again mentioned in despatches (L.G. 22 August 1902), received the brevet promotion to major on 22 August 1902, and his name was noted as qualified for Staff employment.

Later service[edit]

  • Passed Staff College, Camberley, in 1909
  • Appointed Staff Captain, Army Headquarters, Simla, India on 11 April 1903 to 15 March 1906
  • General Staff Officer 2nd Grade, Quetta Division on 7 May 1911 to 2 November 1915
  • Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on 18 January 1917
  • Mentioned-in-Despatches (the Despatch, dated 20 August 1918, of Sir C.C. Munro) vide p. 13907 of London Gazette No. 31031, dated 26 November 1918.
  • Appointed Commandant, 3rd Sappers and Miners, Kirkey, India

Orders and medals[edit]


Colvin married Katharine Way, youngest daughter of Colonel George Augustus Way, CB and they had three children:

  • Katharine Camilla Colvin, who married Noel Beresford-Peirse
  • James Bazett Colvin
  • John Alexander Colvin, born 9 July 1913

Death details[edit]

James Colvin died at Stanway, near Colchester on 7 December 1945, aged 75. He was cremated at Ipswich Crematorium on 11 December, and his ashes scattered in the Old Garden of Rest.


  1. ^ Poulter, George C. B. (1935). "15". The Corbould Genealogy (PDF). Suffolk Institute of Archaeology. Ipswich: W.E. Harrison & Sons. p. 112. 
  2. ^ "No. 26968". The London Gazette. 20 May 1898. pp. 3165–3165. 
  3. ^ "No. 27357". The London Gazette. 20 September 1901. p. 6172. 
  4. ^ "The Army in South Africa - Troops returning home". The Times (36821). London. 16 July 1902. p. 11. 

External links[edit]