James Patrick Scully GC
Name: James Patrick Scully
Conflict: Second World War
Gazetted: July 8, 1941
Place/date of birth: Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland/October 20, 1909
Rank when awarded GC (and later highest rank): Acting Corporal (Sergeant)
Date of bravery: March 8, 1941
London Gazette citation:
A joint citation with Lieutenant Charles Cummins Chittenden (163280), Pioneer Corps, who was awarded the George Medal for the same incident
No. 13039555 Acting Corporal James Patrick Scully, Pioneer Corps (Crunslin (sic), Co. Dublin)
When houses were demolished by enemy action, a rescue party under the direction of Lieutenant Chittenden went to the incident and a search was made for trapped people.
Corporal Scully located a man and a woman and, with great difficulty, he managed to penetrate the debris and get to where they were buried. Lieutenant Chittenden followed him. Wood was obtained to use as props to shore up the debris, but there was no means of cutting it into proper lengths.
A rescue party then arrived with tools to cut some wood into more suitable lengths for shoring. All available help was mustered and the men worked tremendously hard in their efforts to clear away the wreckage. Corporal Scully remained with the trapped persons and prevented any more debris falling on them. A long plank was inserted to take most of the weight but as the result of further falls the props began to sway out of position. There was then a very real danger of the mass of debris falling down and burying the injured persons. Realising this, Corporal Scully placed his back under the plank to try to prevent the props from giving way completely. He steadied them for a time but gradually the weight increased until the props slipped. This left Corporal Scully holding one end of the plank and Lieutenant Chittenden supporting the other. Corporal Scully could have got away at this stage, but he knew that if he did so the debris would fall and probably kill the trapped persons, so he stayed under the plank. Gradually the weight increased and forced Corporal Scully down until he lay across the trapped man. Lieutenant Chittenden who was still holding one end of the plank reached over and supported Corporal Scully’s head to prevent him from being suffocated by having his head pressed into the debris. He managed to keep Corporal Scully’s face clear, but he was fast becoming exhausted. Despite this, he kept up his spirits and continued to talk encouragingly to the woman. The man was unconscious nearly all this time. Corporal Scully remained in this position throughout the night until, more than seven hours later, the rescue party were able to rescue him and the casualties.
When they first entered the house, Lieutenant Chittenden and Corporal Scully knew there was a grave risk of injury or death as the high walls nearby appeared about to collapse at any moment. Had this collapse occurred, they would have been buried under many tons of debris. Corporal Scully risked
his life to save the two people and, though the position looked hopeless, Lieutenant Chittenden stayed with him.
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Other decorations: N/A
Place/date of death: Streatham, London/December 28, 1974
Grave/memorials: Headstone at the Roman Catholic Church of the English Martyrs, Tooting, London; Scully Troop, Royal Logistic Corps
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Dix Noonan Webb, London, 2011
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum