A Scot who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in a First World War battle 100 years ago was further honoured yesterday with a plinth in the Perthshire town where he was born.
Dunblane-born Lieutenant James Huffam received Britain’s highest gallantry medal for his remarkable bravery during the Second Battle of Arras, on 31 August, 1918.
The 21-year-old, serving with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, rushed an enemy machine-gun post at St Servin’s Farm, France, and put it out of action. Under heavy fire he withdrew, carrying a wounded comrade. Later the same day he led another attack, capturing eight prisoners and enabling the British advance to continue.
The Scot was awarded the VC “for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty”, and “the utmost gallantry” throughout the fighting.
To mark the centenary, a commemorative service was held in Dunblane, attended by members of the regiment and three generations of Mr Huffam’s family, who travelled from all over Britain.
Following a piper-led parade, the plinth bearing his name and medal was unveiled outside Dunblane railway station, directly opposite the hero’s childhood home.
Stirling Council provost Christine Simpson paid tribute to Mr Huffam as “one of Dunblane’s bravest sons”.
Mr Huffam, who left the army in 1938 after reaching the rank of major, rejoined at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and took part in the D-Day landings. He died in 1968.
Councillor Simpson said: “The phrase ‘hero’ is something which gets banded about a little too readily nowadays, but there is no doubt that it is absolutely appropriate when referring to a man who served in both world wars and was awarded a Victoria Cross for his selfless courage.
“It is a fitting tribute to Major Huffam’s incredible bravery that this commemoration slab will serve as a permanent reminder to everyone living and visiting Dunblane of his service to our country. It was wonderful that three generations of Major Huffam’s family were able to make the journey here to see how proud the Dunblane community is of the town’s Victoria Cross winner.”
His son Robert, 82, who travelled from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, said: “I’m very proud … Everyone thought so much of him but he was a very self-effacing man and never made a big thing about it himself, and never showed off his medals.
“But he would have been immensely proud of this.”