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Joseph Henry Collin (1893-1918)

Jarrow's Victoria Cross hero

Joseph Henry Collin was born in Jarrow, County Durham in 1893. His father was Joseph Collin, an engine fitter from Carlisle. His mother was Mary Collin, nee McDermott, who was also originally from Carlisle. Joseph’s parents married in 1887 in Carlisle and had six sons and two daughters. Although Joseph junior was born in Jarrow, all his siblings were born in Carlisle. The family were living in Carlisle at the time of both the 1901 and 1911 censuses which suggests they only lived in Jarrow for a short time.

Joseph was educated at St Patrick’s school in Carlisle. At the time of the 1911 census Joseph was working as an assistant salesman in cloth. He was working as an assistant tailor at Hepworth and Son when he enlisted.

Joseph enlisted in 1915 into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was promoted to sergeant before receiving a commission. He was posted to the 1/4th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in France as a 2nd Lieutenant.

On 9 April 1918 he was fighting at Givenchy, France when he received the Victoria Cross in an action in which he was mortally wounded. The citation in the London Gazette on 25 June 1918 describes this action as follows: “For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice in action. After offering a long and gallant resistance against heavy odds in the Keep held by his platoon, this officer, 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-handedly 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 was mortally wounded. The heroic self-sacrifice of 2nd Lt. Collin was a magnificent example to all.” Joseph was 24 years old when he died.

Joseph’s Victoria Cross was presented to his parents by the King on 25 July 1918. Joseph is buried in Vieille-Chapelle New Military Cemetry, Lacoutre, France. He is remembered on several memorials in both Jarrow and Carlisle. There is also a blue plaque on his family house of 8 Petteril Terrace in Carlisle as well as a local road named after him. His Victoria Cross is on display at the King’s Own Regiment Museum, Lancaster.

The following websites provide more information and photographs of Joseph Henry Collin:

King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster:

North East War Memorials:

Civil Parish: Jarrow

Birth date: 11-Apr-1893

Death date: 09-Apr-1918

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Jarrow, County Durham (Birth Place)
8 Petteril Terrace, Harraby, Carlisle (1911 census)

Education: St Patrick’s school, Carlisle

Religion: Roman Catholic

Employment: Assistant salesman, clothier (1911 census)

Family: Parents: Joseph Collin, Mary Collin nee McDermott
Siblings: William James Collin, Sarah Ann Collin, Tom Collin, Christopher Collin, John McDermott Collin, Margaret Hannah McDermott Collin, Vincent McDermott Collin

Military service:

Sergeant (later 2nd Lieutenant) 1/4th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Medal(s): Victoria Cross

Memorial(s): Plaque 2 V.Cs Hospital, Jarrow
War Memorial of Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Carlisle
Harraby War Memorial, London Road, Carlisle
Memorial Plaque, Regimental Chapel, The Priory, Lancaster
Memorial Plaque, Palmer Community Hospital, Jarrow

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham