The Victoria Crosses awarded to Scottish regiments are, by and large, in national institutions, military museums or in the astonishing collection assembled by Lord Ashcroft at the Imperial War Museum. Few remain in private hands.
There should be considerable interest, therefore, in the VC awarded to 21-year-old Private James Towers, 2nd Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), which comes up for sale this week at coin and medal specialists Dix Noonan Web in London.
Pte Towers, with utter disregard for his own safety, volunteered to carry a vital message to a stranded platoon at Mericourt in October 1918, whilst in the knowledge that five of his comrades had already been in killed in turn making attempts to carry out the same task.
Under heavy fire, Towers moved between shell craters and crawled through barbed wire entanglements before coming across the slumped body of the first volunteer runner, his close friend, Private Frank Dunlop. Eventually reaching the trapped platoon, he delivered his vital despatch.
Towers was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V in 1919. He was also one of 74 VC holders who formed a special Guard of Honour for the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920. He died in Preston in 1977, aged 79.
The VC awarded to Towers was one of three won by the Cameronians in the Great War and one of a total of 13 for all campaigns and wars. With the exception of Towers’ VC, all of them are held in regimental museums.
Pte Towers’ Victoria Cross will be offered by Dix Noonan Webb on Wednesday. It is expected to fetch £140,000 to £180,000.