When the Chinese group known as the 'Boxers' started an uprising in China and threated the foreign Legations in Peking (Beijing), an international force was assembled for the ‘defence of legations.’ The Royal Marine Light Infantry served alongside a host of nationalities including the US Marines as the legations were placed under siege by the Boxers.
James Preston was one of the 79 Royal Marines (76 men and 3 officers) involved in the defence. On 14th July 1900 he was involved in fighting on the barricades and captured an enemy flag which had been placed on one of them, at the same time keeping the enemy at bay. For this and other actions he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and Distinguished Conduct Medal, the only Royal Marine to receive this combination of gallantry awards.
His medal group is on display in the museum, and his flag is held in our reserve collection; made of silk it is too sensitive to light damage to display in the galleries.