Dumfries war hero James E Tait (Photo: Veterans Affairs Canada)
Dumfries war hero James E Tait (Photo: Veterans Affairs Canada)

Hunt for Victoria Cross recipient’s family

A search has been launched for the family of a Scottish war hero who is being honoured later this summer.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are holding a commemorative ceremony in memory of Lieutenant James Edward Tait VC MC.

Due to be held on 8 August, the ceremony will mark the centenary of him being awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during World War I.

The family of Lieutenant Tait are seeking other relatives so that they can be invited to attend the commemorative events.

The ceremony will take place at Maxwelltown War Memorial, and will be followed by a service at Troqueer Parish Church.

Dumfries war hero James E Tait (Photo: Veterans Affairs Canada)

Son of James Bryden Tait and Mary Johnstone Tait, James was born in Maxwelltown, Dumfries, on 27 May 1888. Having emigrated to Canada to pursue a career in civil engineering, he fell in love and married California-born Jessie Spiers Aitken.

In 1916, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was commissioned as an officer. He soon found himself on the battle grounds, helping the Canadian Corps attack and capture Vimy Ridge in 1917, for which he received the third-level military decoration, the Military Cross.

On 11 August 1918, James was serving for the 78th Infantry Battalion and died in action at Amiens. He was posthumously awarded the esteemed Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry. He was laid to rest just 35.5 miles away from Amiens, at the British Cemetery in Fouquescourt, northern France.

A memorial plaque to James E Tait in Troqueer Church in Dumfries

In the London Gazette on 24 September 1918, it was reported: ‘This gallant officer displayed outstanding courage and leadership, and though mortally wounded by a shell, continued to direct and aid his men until his death.’

Councillor Archie Dryburgh, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: ‘The event to commemorate Lieutenant Tait’s award of the VC is our way of thanking the soldiers born in Scotland who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, fighting alongside the British Army and other allies in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars.’

Any relatives wishing to get in touch with Lieutenant Tait’s family should contact Dumfries and Galloway Council on 01387 273 899, or by emailing civic.hospitality@dumgal.gov.uk.