b. 10/04/1893 Jarrow, South Tyneside. d. 09/04/1918 Givenchy, France.
Joseph Henry Collin (1893-1918) was born in Jarrow, County Durham on 11th April 1893, the second son of a railworker, also named Joseph, of 8 Petterie Terrace, Harraby, Carlisle. His mother was named Mary. Joseph junior was educated at St Patrick’s School in Carlisle and during his youth he won prizes for sprinting and was an enthusiastic footballer.
After leaving school, he went to work for the clothiers Messrs Joseph Hepworth & Son of Leeds, West Yorkshire. In 1915, he enlisted with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a Private and during his training was promoted to Sergeant. In 1916, he took part in the Battles of the Somme and Ancre and was awarded a commission. After officer training he returned to France in October 1917 and served as a Second Lieutenant with the 1/4th King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
On 9th April 1918 at Givenchy, France, Collin, with only five of his men remaining, slowly withdrew in the face of superior numbers, contesting every inch of the ground. The enemy were pressing him hard with bombs and machine-gun fire from close range. Single-handed 2nd Lt. Collin attacked the machine gun and team. After firing his revolver into the enemy, he seized a Mills grenade and threw it into the hostile team, putting the gun out of action, killing four of the team and wounding two others. Observing a second hostile machine gun firing, he took a Lewis gun, and selecting a high point of vantage on the parapet whence he could engage the gun, he, unaided, kept the enemy at bay until he fell mortally wounded.
Collin was buried in Vielle-Chapelle Military Cemetery, Lacouture, France. His posthumous VC was gazetted on 28th June 1918, and less than a month later, on 25th July, his parents were presented with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace. The medal was presented to the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regimental Museum, Lancaster in 1956. In the regimental chapel is a plaque which commemorates Collin and each year schools in Carlisle compete for the “Collin Shield”, a trophy for a 1 mile race presented in his memory by his family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT MUSEUM, LANCASTER.
BURIAL PLACE: VIELLE-CHAPELLE CEMETERY, LACOUTURE, FRANCE.
Joseph Collin's VC on display at King's Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster. (Image from their website).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT III, ROW A, GRAVE 11
Joseph Collin House, Jarrow (Russell Ward)
Fully installed at Joseph Collin House (Andrew Swan)
Carlisle (Tony Parrini)