b. 15/07/1879 Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. d. 25/09/1961 Takapuna, New Zealand.
James Bell Crichton (1879-1961) was born at Carrickfergus, County Antrim on 15th July 1879, though grew up in the hamlet of Northrigg, near Blackridge, West Lothian. He served with the Cameron Highlanders during the South African (Boer) War before moving to New Zealand.
He later emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand, and volunteered for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force upon the outbreak of the First World War.
Private Crichton was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment when he was awarded his Victoria Cross during the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, a series of Allied attacks in the final weeks of the war, on 30 September near Crèvecœur in France. Private Crichton’s platoon was conducting an offensive across the Scheldt River when they came under machine-gun fire.
On 30th September 1918, at Crevecoeur, France, Private Crichton, although wounded in the foot, stayed with the advancing troops despite difficult canal and river obstacles. When his platoon was forced back by a counterattack he succeeded in carrying a message which involved swimming a river and crossing an area swept by machine-gun fire. Subsequently he rejoined his platoon and later undertook on his own initiative to save a bridge which had been mined. Under close fire he managed to remove the charges, returning with the fuses and detonators.
He was later promoted to Sergeant. James Crichton was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 26th February 1919. After the war, Crichton returned to work as a cable splicer in New Zealand.
Sergeant Crichton died at Takapuna, New Zealand, on 25th September, 1961. He was buried in the Waikumete Memorial Park Soldiers' Cemetery, near Auckland. His medal group including his VC, Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902 with 5 clasps, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, 1939-45 Star, War Medal 1939-45, New Zealand War Service Medal 1939-45, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953, were reunited by the Auckland War Museum in 2001. They acquired his campaign medals separately from his VC which was donated by immediate family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM, NEW ZEALAND.
BURIAL PLACE: WAIKUMATE CEMETERY, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.
Auckland War Museum
Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus
PROTESTANT SECTION, BLOCK L, SECTION 4 PLOT 9
Crichton's campaign medals (Auckland War Museum)
Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland (Brian Drummond)