James Dundas VC
Name: James Dundas
Conflict: Bhootan Campaign
Gazetted: December 31, 1867
Service: Indian Army
James Dundas VC
Place/date of birth: Edinburgh/September 12, 1842
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Lieutenant (later Captain)
Date of bravery: April 2, 1865
London Gazette citation [joint citation]:
Royal (late Bengal) Engineers…Lieutenant James Dundas. For their gallant conduct at the attack on the Block-house at Dewan-Giri, in Bhootan, on the 30th of April [in fact April 2], 1865.
Major-General Tombs, C.B., V .C., the Officer in command at the time, reports that a party of the enemy, from 180 to 200 in number, had barricaded themselves in the Block-house in question, which they continued to defend after the rest of the position had been carried, and the main body was in retreat. The Block-house, which was loop-holed, was the key of the enemy’s position. Seeing no Officer of the storming party near him, and being anxious that the place should be taken immediately, as any protracted resistance might have caused the main body of the Bhooteas to rally, the British force having been fighting in a broiling sun on very steep and difficult ground for upwards of three hours, the General in command ordered these two Officers to show the way into the Block-house. They had to climb up a wall which was 14 feet high, and then to enter a house, occupied by some 200 desperate men, head foremost through an opening not more than two feet wide between the top of the wall and the roof of the Block-house.
Major-General Tombs states that on speaking to the Sikh soldiers around him, and telling them in Hindoostani to swarm up the wall, none of them responded to the call, until these two Officers had shown them the way, when they followed with the greatest alacrity. Both of them were wounded.
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Other decorations: N/A
Place/date of death: Sherpur, Afghanistan/December 23, 1879
Grave/memorials: Sean Sang Cemetery, Sherpur, Afghanistan; St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh; Rochester Cathedral, Kent
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Spink, London, 1997
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum