Lieutenant James Hunter Duthie


Unit : No.4 Platoon, "B" Company, 12th Parachute Battalion.

Army No. : 278561

Awards : Military Cross


"I joined the Bn. in Larkhill in time for some of the very strenuous training in the runup to our take off in early June. In line with the tenor of the times, for no rhyme or reason  I was handed a crack Plt. with a first class Sgt., killed, alas, before I rejoined from hospital in August. The only noteworthy thing [I] managed in my view was the sending of the whole shebang on 36hrs. leave over a weekend just in time to circumvent the Divisional order confining the whole Div. to Salisbury Plain. The fates were not with me for, despite the last hour on Saturday morning being "Plt. Cmdrs disposal", the Colonel called the 12th Bn. to parade at 1200 hrs. The whole of A Coy was present and correct, the whole of C Coy was similarily present but B Coy was represented by 5 and 6 Plts. standing behind the sole representative of 4 Plt... yours truly. Never has such a void appeared in a COs parade since the Indian Mutiny. Summoned before the 2Ic. Major K. Darling, [I] stammered [my] only defense that "I thought the men needed a last chance to see their wives and girl friends". [I] was told in stern words that [I] should have been sent to receive a severe reprimand from the Brigadier but if we could agree that I was "a foolish young officer" I could carry on. I next met Sir Ken in the Airborne Cemetery gateway with his wife in 1994 there was no indication that we last met in the 2Ic's office in Larkhill barracks 50 years before."


"On 9th June in Longueval... [I] led 4 Plt. and 5 Plt. into the attack on a small orchard on high ground overlooking the village in what was a company attack with 6Plt. brought up by Captain Stevenson in support. In the course of the heavy fiighting we first came into contact with what the Germans call Eisen Luft" or" iron air" a mixture of airburst 88 fire with mortaring. We held the position until ordered to withdraw. This left the Company Cmdr. Harold Rogers, as the only officer in B Coy but he was killed three days later in Breville."


For Lieutenant Duthie's conduct during this attack he was awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads:


On 9th June 1944, at Longueval Lieutenant Duthie commanded his platoon during an attack on a wood. The attack was successful and the objective gained. Soon after the position was heavily mortared and shelled and Lieutenant Duthie was wounded. He refused to go back. When the order to retire was given he personally covered out all his sections though by this time he was in a serious condition. His bravery and devotion to duty were outstanding.


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