b. 09/07/1895 Radcliffe, Lancashire. d. 22/01/1972 Torquay, Devon.
James Hutchinson (1895-1972) was born at 18 Bank Top, Radcliffe, Lancashire on 9th July 1895. His father was Samuel Lord Hutchinson, born as Samuel Lord. His father was a coal miner and later a wood labourer in a paper mill. James’ mother was Ann nee Nuttall, a cotton weaver before her marriage on 8th February 1879 at Radcliffe Parish Church. James had six siblings, including three brothers who were all killed in action in the Great War. Arthur was killed on 8th May 1915, Alfred on 8th July 1917 and Frank was killed during the raid which saw James awarded the VC on 28th June 1916. Sadly, Arthur and Frank’s bodies were not recovered.
James was educated at Radcliffe Hall Parish Church School and was a member of the Radcliffe Company, Church Lads’ Brigade. He attended Bank Top Sunday School, played for its football team and became a teacher there. He was employed as a piecer at Mellor Mill, Bury. James enlisted on 28th September 1914, trained at Southport and went to France on 3rd May 1915.
On 28th June 1916, at Ficheux, France, during an attack on the enemy's position this soldier was the leading man, and, entering their trench, shot two sentries and cleared two of the traverses.
After our object had been gained and retirement ordered, Private Hutchinson, on his own initiative, undertook the dangerous task of covering the retirement, and he did this with such gallantry and determination that the wounded were removed into safety. During all this time this gallant soldier was exposed to fierce fire from machine-guns and rifles at close quarters.
He lost his sight in his right eye to a shell splinter on the Somme three weeks later. As a result, he was treated at Rouen and 2nd London General Hospital at St Mark’s College, Chelsea. The VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 2nd December 1916. He became a bombing instructor and did not return to the front. Later he was a corporal in the Labour Corps and was discharged on 17th December 1918.
He married Laura Fogg on 8th February 1919 at St Peter’s, Bury. They had a son, James J Hutchinson, in 1924. James had become an electrician but struggled to get regular employment due to his VC at times. They moved to Torquay in Devon, and ran the “Ellerslie” private hotel in Falkland Road. They were members of the Torquay Social Club and Torquay Royal British Legion. He ran a poultry farmer at Newton Abbot around 1956.
James suffered from chronic bronchitis and was cared for by Mrs Strode for nine months following the death of his wife in 1971. He died at his home “Barnshill”, Zion Road, Torquay on 21st January 1972. His funeral was conducted by Reverend Harold Ainscrow, who had been on the same raid James was awarded the VC and been a POW. The funeral was followed by a cremation at Torquay Crematorium, and his ashes were scattered in the Garden of Remembrance. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. The VC is held privately.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: TORQUAY CREMATORIUM, TORQUAY, DEVON. ASHES SCATTERED.
War Illustrated, 23rd December 1916
Torquay War Memorial
Radcliffe, Lancashire (Ian Campbell)