Personal info

  • Name: James Morris Colquhoun COLVIN
  • D.O.B: 26th Aug, 1870
  • D.O.A: 17th Sep, 1897
  • D.O.D: 7th Dec, 1945
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, 4th Company, Corps of Bengal Sappers and Miners
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Bilot, Mamund Valley, North West Frontier, India 16-17 September 1897

16-17 September 1897

More details about:
INDIA and BURMA 1889-97 

On 6 August 1897 the Mohmands, who lived around the Kabul river to the north-west of Peshawar, attacked the border post of Shabkadr only fifteen miles from the town. A Mohmand Field Force under Brigadier General E R Elles was dispatched to deal with them. They proved such a tough proposition that the Malakand Field Force, which had been active in Bajaur after its reduction of Swat, marched to join Elles. On the night of 16-17 September, during the course of punitive actions being carried out by the Malakand Field Force’s 2nd Brigade, the Brigade commander Brigadier General P D Jeffreys found himself with a small force, including half a company of the 4th Bengal Sappers and Miners and twelve men of the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), outside the village of Bilot, which was full of heavily armed tribesmen who began firing at the British. Lieutenants T C Watson and J M C Colvin led the unsuccessful attempts to take the village, Colvin continuing after an artery in Watson’s arm was severed by a bullet. Among those accompanying Lieutenant Watson was Lance Corporal J Smith. With Jeffreys himself wounded, Colvin soon found that he and Lieutenant Wynter, Royal Artillery, were the only officers left to command the small British detachment; a relief force arrived at midnight. Watson, Colvin and Smith were awarded the VC for their gallantry in the action, four Privates of the Buffs the DCM, and two members of 4th Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners the (Indian) Order of Merit. The Mohmands finally submitted on 18 October 1897.


 On the same occasion, after Lieutenant Watson had been incapacitated by his wounds from further effort, Lieutenant Colvin continued the fight and persisted in two more attempts to clear the enemy out of the dark and still burning village. He was conspicuous during the whole night for his devotion to his men in the most exposed positions under a heavy fire from the enemy. 

The London Gazette of 20 May 1898, Numb. 26968, p. 3165

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