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  • Christina Drummond

Second Lieutenant Joseph Collin V.C., 1/4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Second Lieutenant Joseph Collin V.C., 1/4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, was killed in action in France. At the outbreak of war he was working as an assistant salesman at Hepworth & Sons, a tailor’s establishment in Carlisle, and in 1915 enlisted in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, with whom he served in France. After promotion to Sergeant, he was selected for a commission by the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and posted to France in October of 1917.

On the day of his death he was involved in extremely heavy fighting near Givenchy, and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for the bravery described in the V.C. Citation: “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 ground.

The enemy were pressing him hard with bombs and machine-gun fire from close range. Single-handed 2nd Lieutenant Collin attacked the machine gun team. After firing his revolver into the enemy, he threw a Mills grenade, 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.

The heroic self-sacrifice of 2nd Lieutenant Collin was a magnificent example to all.” Second Lieutenant Collin is buried in Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery in France. In Carlisle his memory has been honoured by local schools competing for the ‘Collin Shield,’ a street is named after him, and his name is on the R.C. War Memorial at Our Lady and St. Joseph’s Church. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum in Lancaster. Joseph, born in Jarrow but raised in Harraby, died the day before his 25th birthday.

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