b. 18/12/1894 Edinburgh, Scotland. d. 14/10/1918 Aubencheul-au-Bac, France.
James McPhie (1894-1918) was born on 18th December 1894 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland. He was the second son of David McPhie, a Butcher, and Mary McPhie, of 11 Wilkie Place, Leith. James McPhie joined the Territorial Force in 1912.
On 14 October1918, during the final Allied advance in France, McPhie was with a party of sappers maintaining a temporary cork bridge over the Canal de la Sensée near Aubencheul au Bac. At dawn, an infantry patrol which was crossing the canal started to bunch under German fire, causing the frail bridge to break up. McPhie and another man jumped into the water, holding the cork floats and timbers of the bridge together until the patrol was able to scramble across.
Realising that the safety of the patrol depended upon the bridge being repaired, James swam back and immediately set about collecting the necessary material. Undeterred by heavy fire, and rallying his men with the inspiring words "It is death or glory which must be done for the sake of our patrol on the other side", he led the way back onto the bridge to begin the vital work. He was severely wounded almost at once, falling partly into the water, and died after receiving several more wounds, but his inspiring example ensured that contact was kept with the patrol on the far bank at a critical period.
James was buried in the Naves Communal Cemetery, France with full military honours. His medals were placed on loan to the Imperial War Museum, and are now part of the Ashcroft Gallery in the Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: NAVES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT II, ROW E, GRAVE 4.
His medals in the old ImperiaL War Museum
Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland