b. 06/11/1895 Lochee, Scotland. d. 20/09/1963 3 South Street, Lochee, Scotland.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 11/11/1917 La Bergere, France.
James Collins was born in Lochee, Dundee, where before the Great War he was a keen footballer, playing centre-half with St. Joseph’s F.C., and considered by many to be one of the city’s most promising young footballers. Following the outbreak of the Great War he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, served with the 14th Field Ambulance on the Western Front, and was awarded the Albert Medal for gallantry near the advanced dressing station at La Bergere, south-west of Monshyn-le-Roux, France. Severely wounded in the leg during his gallant exploits, his feet were so riddled with shrapnel that in hospital back in England he was told that his only hope was amputation. However, he refused, his burning ambition being to one day play football again. After 14 operations over a period of almost two years, and with shrapnel still in his toes and ankles, he was signed by Swansea Town A.F.C. (now Swansea City, the Premiership team). He played with the ‘Swans’ for 15 years, and was their captain when the team won the Third Division Championship in 1924-25; the following season the team reached the Semi-Final of the F.A. Cup for the first time, beating Arsenal along the way. On a number of occasions he won Welsh League caps. His playing days over he moved into coaching, and had a spell as a trainer with Chester F.C. On the outbreak of the Second World War he volunteered again for service with the Royal Engineers. He died in Dundee.
In recognition of his gallant action in saving life in France in the following circumstances: On the 11th November, 1917, near an advanced dressing station in France, a lunatic soldier escaped from his escort and ran away along a trench. Collins ran after him, and when he got near him the man threatened to throw a bomb at him. Collins closed with the man, who then withdrew the pin from the bomb and let it fall in the trench. In an endeavour to save the patient and two other soldiers who were near, Collins put his foot upon the bomb, which exploded, killing the lunatic and injuring Collins severely; fortunately the two soldiers were not hurt. Collins, who could easily have got out of the way, ran the gravest risk of losing his life in order to save others
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT SPINK’S FOR £22,000 IN 2014.