James John McLeod Innes VC CB

b. 05/02/1830 Baghalpur, India. d. 13/12/1907 Cambridge.

James John McLeod Innes (1830-1907) was born at Baghulpur, India on 5th February 1830, the son of Surgeon James Innes of the Honourable East India Company’s Civil Service and Bengal Army, and of Jane Alicia Innes (nee McLeod). He was educated at Edinburgh University where he distinguished himself particularly in Mathematics. He was then educated at Addiscombe Seminary, where he was awarded the Pollock Medal. He graduated in 1848, and joined the Bengal Engineers on 8th December of the same year.

James J M Innes VC CB

He then transferred to the Public Works Department in Bengal in 1851. On the 1st August 1854, he was promoted to Lieutenant, and when the Indian Mutiny broke out he returned to military duty, and he was one of the most gallant and enterprising young officers engaged in the defence of Lucknow. He later wrote a book on his experiences called “Lucknow and Oude” in 1895. In 1855 he had married Lucy Jane McPherson, the daughter of Professor Hugh McPherson, of Aberdeen. They would go on to have four children.

On 23rd February 1858, at the action at Sultanpore, Lieutenant Innes was far in advance of the leading skirmishers, and was the first to secure a gun which the enemy were abandoning. On their retreat, they rallied around another gun further back, and began to fire. Without hesitating, Innes rode up unsupported, shot the gunner who was about to apply the match to fire the gun, and then held the gun, despite being fired upon from some adjoining huts. He was mentioned in despatches three times as well as the award of the VC (London Gazette, 24th December 1858).

He had been promoted to Captain in August 1858, and a Brevet Major soon after. After the Mutiny, he returned to civil employment, and was in turn Accountant-General, Public Works Department Commissioner, the Bombay Bank, Inspector-General of Military Works, and served on the India Defence Committee Inquiry. He retired in 1886. He retired to Cambridge where he died at his home on 13th December 1907. He was buried in the City Cemetery in Cambridge. His medals are held by the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent.  






Kevin Brazier – Images of the Innes VC Grave and City Cemetery Cambridge Plan.