The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

'Sans Peur'       Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders red and white dicing       'Ne Obliviscaris'

MUNRO, James

93rd Regiment, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Victoria Cross awarded 16 November 1857

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross
"for valour"

Name MUNRO, James
Rank Colour Sergeant
Service 93rd Regiment, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Theatre where VC won Secundra Bagh, Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 16 November 1857
Recorded in London Gazzette 8 November 1860
Place & Date of Birth Nigg, Ross & Cromarty, 1825
Place & Date of Death Craig Dunain Hospital, Inverness, 15 February 1871
Burial Ground Craig Dunain Hospital Cemetery, Inverness,
headstone erected September 2002
Current Location of VC Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum, Stirling Castle

Scene of Action

Secundra Bagh is a villa and country estate on the outskirts of Lucknow, India. It was built as a summer house for the nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah. The estate was named after the nawab's favourite wife, Begum Sikander Mahal.

During the siege of Lucknow in the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Secundra Bagh was used as a refuge by hundreds of sepoys who were under siege by British and colonial troops. The villa was breached on 16 November 1857 and 2000 sepoys were killed by British troops.

On 16 November 1857 at Lucknow, India, Colour Sergeant Munro rushed to the rescue of captain William George Drummond STEWART, of his regiment, who was severely wounded at the Secundra Bagh. The colour sergeant carried the wounded officer to a place of safety, the same place to which Munro was carried, shortly after he also was badly wounded.

Colour Sergeant James Munro VC

Soldiers honour Highland hero left forgotten in pauper's grave

Article from the Press & Journal
Aberdeen Edition 26/07/02
Copyright Press & Journal

A FORGOTTEN Highland war hero is to be honoured 145 years after he won the Victoria Cross for rescuing a wounded officer under fire.

It emerged yesterday that despite receiving this country's highest award for gallantry from Queen Victoria in person, Colour Sergeant James Munro was left a broken man.

Instead of being the toast of the town as so many heroes were in Victorian times, he died a mental and physical wreck alone in a Highland asylum, the victim of the terrible wounds he received when he returned to the fray.

Investigations by the Army has discovered that CSgt Munro died in Craig Dunain Hospital, Inverness, which in Victorian times was called the lunatic asylum, and his body was buried in a pauper's graveyard in the grounds.

The tiny walled cemetery closed in 1893, and since then it has lain overgrown and forgotten.

But now, in honour of CSgt Munro, the Army has cleared away the trees and bushes masking the sad little burial place, and soon a plaque marking his last resting place will be erected, possibly along with a storyboard telling of his bravery and the background to the cemetery.

Munro's heroism was displayed on November 6, 1857, when his regiment, the 93d Sutherland Highlanders, was involved in fierce action during the relief of Lucknow, a notable action during the Indian Mutiny.

Munro's VC citation is in the briefest of terms. It states: "Munro, James. For devoted gallantry at Secundra Bagh, in having promptly rushed to the rescue of Captain Walsh of the same corps, when wounded and in danger of his life, whom he carried to a place of safety, to which the sergeant was brought in shortly afterwards badly wounded."

Munro was shot through his loins by two musket balls, which shattered his lower vertebrae, tearing bone away and leaving wounds that never properly healed.

Through amalgamation, Munro's regiment became the famous Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and it is soldiers of their regiment's Stirling-based E Company Assault Pioneers that are helping with the clearance work at Craig Dunain Hospital, which recently closed and is lying empty.

Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm McVittie, chairman of the regimental association, which is funding much of the work, said: "Normally we don't spend money on the dead. Our money is mostly spent helping the living.

"But having discovered this information about CSgt Munro, we are now trying to put right what was wrong before, in full co-operation with the hospital trust that owns the land.

"It is very sad that a soldier with such a distinguished record should have died and been buried in such circumstances." Lt Col McVittie's research revealed he had a good-conduct medal and was receiving good-conduct pay from 1851.

Once work is completed, the regimental association plans to hold a small ceremony

Munro is believed to have been born on October 11, 1826, the son of a wright at Easter Rariche, Nigg, Easter Ross, and died in February 5 1871, aged 45, some 13 years after his bravery. He was 20 when he joined up, and by 1854 he was a sergeant serving in the Crimean War.

Eighteen months later, the regiment went to India and in 1857 Munro was promoted to colour sergeant. On his return to Britain he was declared unfit for further duty and left the Army after more than 12 years.

Munro received his medal from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle in 1860, two years after he was discharged.

The next that is documented about Munro is when he came to the attention of Edinburgh police while working as a ranger in the Queen's Park, now Holyrood Park.

He had become demented and a kleptomaniac, most likely through a combination of his terrible wounds and the alcohol he consumed to help him get through life.

He was also becoming paralysed as a result of his injuries and was said to have been demented in appearance.

Munro was 44 when admitted to hospital in Inverness, and died the next year. Records show he may have been married to a Jessie Ross from Tain.

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