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Famous Scots - James Mckechnie Sgt Sfc Vc

James Mckechnie Sgt Sfc Vc

The first major battle that took place during the Crimean War ( 1854-56 ) was the Battle of the Alma on 20th September 1854. The Allies decided to launch a pincer movement against the Russians. The French were to advance along the sea shore on the right flank before scaling the cliffs and capturing the heights. The British were to advance on the centre and left flank. The British troops were deployed into a long line, two deep across a two-mile front, and crossed the river Alma under heavy fire, encountering on the far side, steep rocky ground leading up to the Heights occupied by the Russians. During the battle two of the strangest incidents took place.

After the British had attained the Great Redoubt, suffering appalling casualties, the Russians counter attacked. At this point a wild-eyed staff officer galloped along the line shouting 'Don't fire! For God's sake, The column's French!' The officer was not recognised nor has he been substaniated since. He then rode up to the bugler of the 19th Regiment and ordered him to sound the Cease Fire, and then ordered another bugler to sound Retire, which was taken up by other buglers.

Later, after the Russians had recaptured the Great Redoubt, the Russians advanced down the slope encountering a thin line containing the remnants of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers and 7th Royal Fusiliers, and men from other regiments who had taken part in the initial assault. The Grenadier and Coldstream Guards were emerging from the river along with the Scots Fusilier Guards who moved forward up the slope first.

At his point the mysterious galloping staff officer put in a second appearance. There was a shout of 'Retire! Fusiliers, retire!' This could have applied to the 23rd, or the 7th or the Scots Fusilier Guards. The 23rd took it to apply to themselves and hurridly withdrew through the ranks of the Scots Fusilier Guards, knocking over several men in the process. The latter were also suffering their first casualties and during the confusion the Queen's Colour went down, its pole smashed and the silk shot through. It was at this point that Sergeant James McKechnie earned his Victoria Cross. Brandishing his revolver, McKechnie dashed forward to retrieve the Colours, rallying his men around it despite receiving a wound in the process. Calling out 'By the centre, Scots, by the centre, look to the colours and march by them.' he thereby kept order in the regiment.

Headstone Photograph

Further Information


Firstname: JAMES


Date of Death: 5th Jul 1886

Age at Death: 59

Cemetery: Parkhead



Town: Glasgow

Region: Glasgow and Clyde Valley

Country: Scotland


Please Note, the marker on this map indicates the Cemetery location, not the location of a particular grave. is a privately owned website with no affiliation to any Local Councils.