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James Samuel Emerson VC.

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James Samuel Emerson VC.

Post  Admin on Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:04 am

Born on Saturday 3rd August 1895 Collon, Drogheda, County Louth.

T/Second Lieutenant
9th Battalion
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

In December 1917 the battalions of 36th (Ulster) Division were in involved in the most difficult of military manoeuvres, a withdrawal in the face of a sustained enemy attack. The Germans had launched their most ferocious attack since Verdun in early 1916 and British troops were falling back to escape the onslaught.

The 9th Inniskilling's along with a platoon from the 14th Irish Rifles were pursuing the enemy along the trenches when they ran into an ambush and many of the leading men were either captured or killed. It was during the battle that followed that Second Lieutenant Emerson won his posthumous Victoria Cross.


On Thursday 6th December 1917
On the Hindenberg Line
North of La Vacquerie, France.

Second Lieutenant Emerson led his company in an attack and cleared 400 yards of trench. Though wounded, (an eye-witness recalled that there was a hole at the top of Emerson’s steel helmet) when the enemy attacked in superior numbers, leaving his trench he met their attack with eight men, killing many and taking six prisoners. For three hours afterwards, all other officers having become casualties, he remained the only officer with his company, refusing to go to the dressing station, instead he led the defence over a three hour period, fighting off several more bombing attacks. Later, leading his men out of the trench to repel yet another attack, he was mortally wounded, falling dead at the head of the attack. His heroism and leadership inspired the remaining Inniskilling’s to hold out until reinforcements arrived.

James Samuel Emerson Was killed in the above action He has no known grave He is commemorated on the CAMBRAI MEMORIAL Louverval, France. Panel 5&6.

MEMORIAL STONE in grounds of ULSTER MEMORIAL TOWER

MEMORIAL OBELISK Collon, Church of Ireland, Parish Churchyard.

Unusually for a posthumous Victoria Cross at this stage of the war, the medal was not presented to his family by the King at a Buckingham Palace investiture, instead Brigadier-General Hackett-Payne handed it formally to his widowed mother in a ceremony at the Whitworth Hall in Drogheda before a packed audience that included the different classes of the Drogheda public.

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