Wednesday, 27 January 2016

James Bell Crichton VC

James Bell Crichton (1879-1961) was born at Carrickfergus, County Antrim, 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.

Enlisting at the outbreak of the 1st World War, he served as a baker on the Western Front until May, 1918, when he transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, during the 1st World War.

Private Crichton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his deeds on 30 September 1918 at Crèvecœur, 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.

Sergeant Crichton died at Takapuna, New Zealand, on 25 September, 1961.

There is a Blue Plaque in his memory at the premises of Weston Engineering, 75 Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus, County Antrim, the location of his family home.

First published in May, 2013.

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