b. 1834 Hammersmith, London. d. 04/05/1904 Hammersmith, London.
James Champion (1834-1904) was born in Hammersmith, London in 1834. He joined the 8th Hussars in 1851 and went to the Crimea. Sickness saw him unable to participate in the infamous Light Brigade charge at Balaklava. He was promoted to troop sergeant and would then take part throughout the Indian Mutiny.
It was on the 8th September 1858, in the latter stages of the Indian Mutiny, that a squadron of “D” troop, of which Champion was part, caught up with the rebels at Beejapore (Bijapur), south east of Bombay in the southern Indian district of Karnataka.
Of the 850 rebels, no less than 450 bodies were counted dead on the field. When both officers were wounded, Champion, who was himself severely injured, carried on fighting, wounding several rebels, and leading the pursuit. For this action he was recommended for the VC and his citation was published on 20th January 1860. He was also promoted to regimental sergeant major in October 1858. There is no record of his investiture. He later received the Meritous Service Medal. He retired from active service on 23rd December 1873 and was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of the Cheltenham Troop of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars.
He later lived in London, and died on 4th May 1904 in Hammersmith. Sadly, he was buried in an unmarked grave in Margarvine Cemetery in Hammersmith due to his financial circumstances. In May 2016, one hundred and twelve years after his death, the Victoria Cross Trust erected a new headstone marking the grave finally of James Champion VC, MSM. His medals are held in the Redoubt Museum, Eastbourne, Sussex.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: REDOUBT MUSEUM, EASTBOURNE, SUSSEX.
BURIAL PLACE: MARGARVINE CEMETERY, HAMMERSMITH, LONDON. GRAVE 30, E40
James Champion's unmarked grave in Mortlake Cemetery. Picture supplied by Steve Lee from the excellent Memorials to Valour website).
The new headstone for James Champion VC erected by the hard work of the Victoria Cross Trust in May 2016. The picture is used with the kind permission of Gary Stapleton, Chairman of the VCT.