b. 26/08/1870 Bijnor, India. d. 07/12/1945 Stanway, Essex.
James Morris Colquhoun Colvin (1870-1945) was born in Bijnor, United Provinces, British India. His father was James Colquhoun Colvin of the Manor House, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, and his mother was Camilla Fanny Marie Morris, eldest daughter of the Rev. Edward Morris. His father served with the Bengal Civil Service and was awarded the India Mutiny medal for his role in the defence of the House of Arrah. Their extended family was long established in the British East Indies as soldiers and administrators, and included Sir John Russell Colvin, Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces during the Indian Mutiny, his sons Sir Auckland, K.C.S.I. and Sir Elliot Graham, K.C.S.I., as well as their cousin, the writer and curator Sir Sidney Colvin.
He was educated at Charterhouse and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He was awarded the Pollock Gold Medal and Memoir as a Cadet Senior Under Officer for distinguished proficiency; the Regulation Sword for exemplary conduct; a travelling clock, aneroid barometer, thermometer and compass for maths and mechanics. These awards were presented to him by H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge after his inspection of cadets at RMA Woolwich, on 26 July 1889.
Colvin joined the Royal Engineers on 27 July 1889, and served in the Chitral Relief Force in 1895, with the 4th Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners; on the North West Frontier of India, with the Malakand Field Force 1897-1898, taking part in operations in Bajaur, and in the Mohmand country and in Buner. He was mentioned in despatches and was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 20th May 1898.
On the night of 16/17 September 1897, in the Mohmand Valley, North West British India, Lieutenant Colvin was with Lieutenant Thomas Colclough Watson who collected a party of volunteers and led them into the dark and burning village of Bilot, to try to dislodge the enemy who were inflicting losses on British Army troops. When his brother officer had been incapacitated by wounds, Lieutenant Colvin continued the fight and made two more attempts to clear the enemy from the village. He was conspicuous during the whole night for his devotion to his men, in the most exposed positions and under very heavy fire.
He received his Victoria Cross from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 19th July 1898. Following his investiture, he went on to serve in the Boer War in South Africa, as a Special Service Officer, and also on the Staff. He was given the Brevet of Major, and awarded the Queen’s Medal with three clasps. On 23rd January 1904, he married Katherine, youngest daughter of Colonel George Augustus Way CB, in Simla, India. They went on to have three children.
In 1909, he passed at Staff College in Camberley, and was a General Staff Officer at Quetta between 1911 and 1915. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1917, and became Commandant to the 3rd Sappers and Miners in Kirkee, India. He retired from the Army as a Colonel, and lived in East Anglia.
Colonel Colvin died on 7th December 1945, aged 75, in Stanway, near Colchester, Essex. He was cremated at Ipswich Crematorium, and his ashes were scattered on the December Lawn in the Garden of Rest. His medals are held by the Colvin family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: IPSWICH CREMATORIUM, IPSWICH, SUFFOLK. ASHES SCATTERED.
Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham