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WW1 Hero Commemorated In France 100 Years After His Death

Corporal James McPhie was awarded a Victoria Cross for outstanding acts of bravery during the conflict...

Corporal McPhie joined the Territorials in 1912 when he was just 17 (Picture: SWNS).

A First World War hero has been commemorated 100 years after his death at a ceremony in the French town where he died.

Corporal James McPhie was awarded a Victoria Cross – the highest award in the country for gallantry in the face of the enemy – for outstanding acts of bravery during the conflict.

Residents of Aubencheul-au-Bac in northern France, near to where Corporal McPhie died, organised a memorial event for all of the fallen.

Captain Alan Hume responded to a request from the small town, asking for someone to represent Edinburgh at the ceremony.

The former Leith Academy pupil is part of the same regiment that Corporal McPhie had been in, the Royal Engineers, and paid his respects alongside a contingent of veterans and serving soldiers.

He said: “I saw this as an opportunity to pay homage to someone who had earned it.

“I was proud to take part. To be from Edinburgh, and as a Royal Engineer, to celebrate another Edinburgh man was humbling.”

Around 80 people gathered to honour the fallen in Aubencheul-au-Bac at 10am on Sunday morning.

The servicemen were joined by the mayor and a band as they marched through the town to lay wreaths at a German memorial and at the site where Corporal McPhie fell.

He was shot and killed by machine gun fire while trying to repair a broken bridge in a bid to help his fellow soldiers escape in 1918.

Cpl McPhie (right) was rescued and laid to rest by his brother John (left), a Lance Corporal in the same unit, four miles away (Picture: SWNS).

A posthumous Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery” was presented to his widowed mother Elizabeth by King George V in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace on 3 April 1919.

John McPhie’s daughter, Sheila Grove, travelled to France with her son and grandson to honour her uncle.

Captain Hume said: “It was quite an emotional day for the family. It was really quite touching to see the thread of lineage.”

He added: “It is immensely important to remember the fallen. He who ignores history is condemned to repeat it.

“Corporal McPhie knew that if he didn’t risk death it would cost the lives of others.

"His actions were game-changing. He had great courage and he paid the ultimate price.”