b. 28/06/1901 Galashiels, Scotland. d. 23/04/1940 Narvik, Norway.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 13/05/1937 off Almeria, Spain.
James was born on 28th June 1901 in Galashiels, Scotland, the son of Alexander and Mary Smail (nee Crozier). He married Jane Forsyth Morrison in Dundee on 30th December 1930 and they had a daughter Jean, and was awarded the EGM for his actions aboard the HMS Hunter off the coast of Almeria, Spain on 13th May 1937. He was killed during the sinking of the HMS Hunter at the Battle of Narvik on 23rd April 1940. His body was lost at sea and he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
An explosion caused by the mining occurred underneath the Stoker Petty Officers’ and Torpedomen’s Mess Decks. To reach the ratings on these mess decks, this party had to jump down 8 feet, the ladder being blown away, into 3 feet of oil fuel and on to a deck which might not have been intact. During this period they remained in imminent risk of falling through the shattered deck into the water and oil fuel. Moreover, they were under the impression that the ship was about to founder. Their exertions to save life consisted in dragging living and dead men from under wreckage and out of the oil fuel and passing them up on deck. This operation lasted from 5 to 10 minutes. The rescued were in very severe danger from having swallowed oil fuel and had they been left would undoubtedly have died. Others were severely burnt and immersion of their wounds in oil fuel, if prolonged,would undoubtedly have caused death.
BURIAL LOCATION: PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL, PLYMOUTH, DEVON.
PANEL 36 COLUMN 3.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.