On This Day 29th October 1914 near Festubert, France, after their trench had been taken by the enemy and two attempts to recapture it had failed, Second Lieutenant James Leach and Sergeant John Hogan with a party of 10 volunteers went to recover it themselves. They took the Germans by surprise with a sudden bayonet attack and then working from traverse to traverse they gradually succeeded in regaining possession, killing eight of the enemy, wounding two and taking 16 prisoners.
Leach was concussed in action on 17th November 1914 and was evacuated to England on 25th November for treatment at Lady Evelyn Mason’s Hospital for Officers in London until 11th November. Two Medical Boards found him unfit for service and he was sent on leave. Whilst on leave, he was gazetted for the VC on 22nd December 1914. He was then declared fit for home service and posted to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Cleethorpes on 1st January 1915. He was then presented with his VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 13th January 1915.
After the war he worked for the Bank of England but lost his job in the Great Depression. He later began training to be a lawyer but had to give it up due to a messy divorce from his second wife which cost him a lot of money. He would marry for a third time in 1945. He died at No 4 The Lodge, Richmond Way, Shepherd’s Bush on 15th August 1958 and was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered in Plot 8.