James Neville Marshall VC MC*

b. 12/06/1887 Manchester. d. 04/11/1918 Sambre-Oise Canal, France.

James Neville Marshall (1887-1918) was born in Manchester on 12th June 1887. He was the son of James Henry Marshall, a draper. James Neville initially attended Wellesbourne House School, Acocks Green(Bham) and then won a scholarship to King Edward’s Grammar School, Camp Hill, Birmingham. He remained there until March 1902 when he left, probably for family financial reasons. He became a clerk at the Birmingham and Midland Institute and later worked in the Medical Faculty of the University of Birmingham in a clerical capacity. It does not appear that the twenty-three year old James Neville Marshall was living with his family in 1911.

James N Marshall

By that date his father had committed suicide by hanging (May 27th 1910) and his widowed mother appears to have run some kind of private school in Acocks Green with the help of her unmarried daughters, Nannie and Mary. Their home was noted as ‘Eastbourne House, Warwick Road, Acocks Green. Dorothy, then aged 20, was described as a university student. His younger brother, Klein, was still living at home and earnt his living as a clerk. There was now a live-in servant, May Byrne, aged 17 and born at Fradley, near Lichfield. The family were living at ‘Eastbourne’ in May 1910 and James Henry appears to have committed suicide at the house itself.

James Neville Marshall left Birmingham as a young man and by 1911 had moved to Harlow, Essex, and, although not qualified, set himself up as a veterinary worker (became a veterinary surgeon – Bham Despatch 4.2.19), working mainly with horses and became well known in horse circles.At first he lodged in Harlow but at some point moved to Bromleys Farm, Latton, Harlow.On September 20 1911 he married Edith Maud Taylor, who was also interested in horses, at the parish church in Latton, Essex. Edith was aged 25 and lived at Great Parndon and her father Henry Algernon was a maltster.

He started off the First World War in Argentina, buying horses but then enlisted in the Irish Guards. By 1918 he had risen to the rank of Acting Lieutenant Colonel in the Irish Guards, and was attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers, commanding the 16th Battalion.

On 4th November 1918 at the Sambre–Oise Canal, near Catillon, France, when a partly constructed bridge was badly damaged before the advanced troops of his battalion could cross, Lieutenant Colonel Marshall organised repair parties. The first party were soon killed or wounded, but the colonel’s personal example was such that more volunteers were instantly forthcoming. Under intense fire and with complete disregard of his own safety he stood on the bank encouraging his men and helping in the work. When the bridge was repaired he attempted to lead his men across, but was killed in the attack. Wilfred Owen was killed in the same engagement soon after the bridge was crossed as he encouraged his men.

He was buried in Ors Communal Cemetery, Ors, France. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgium) and was made a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold (Belgium). His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Guards Regimental Headquarters (Irish Guards RHQ), London, England.






Paul Reed – Marshall VC Grave in Ors Communal Cemetery, France.

Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.

Thomas Stewart – Image of the Marshall VC Medal Group at the Guards Museum, London.

Paul Lee www.memorialstovalour.co.uk – Image of the Marshall VC Stone at Trafford Town Hall, Manchester.

John Patterson – Image of Marshall’s replica VC group at Lancashire Fusiliers Museum, Bury, Lancashire.