Hero’s ‘lost grave’ to get stone

A Barrow war hero whose grave has stood for years is set to get the recognition he deserves, thanks to the efforts of the Royal British Legion.

When the local branch of the legion discovered there was no headstone for the grave of Private Samuel Wassall VC at Barrow Cemetary it approached his former regiment which came up with an offer of £200 towards the cost of the memorial.

And now the Barrow Council has agreed to cover upkeep costs of the grave by offering to waive the authority’s normal charge of over £300 for 25 years maintenance.

Pte. Wassall earned one of the 11VC’s for his conduct against the Zulus. He won his VC in January 1879 for saving the life of a drowning comrade under enemy fire at Buffalo River after the Isandhlwana massacre.

In Africa he served with the 80th Regiment of Foot, later the South Staffordshire Regiment, and lived with his wife Rebecca and large family in Melbourne Street, Barrow, and later in Lyon Street.

Army records show he died in January 1927 and Mr Peter Loebell, secretary of the services section of the local British Legion branch, says Pte Wassall’s grave is registered in the legion’s name.

Presumably the soldier’s family were not well off, so the legion covered the costs of the burial. Mr Loebell says he thinks Pte Wassall’s wife was later buried in the grave.

“And as far as we can make out this is the only holder of a VC buried in Barrow and as such we would like to look after it.”

“We plan a black polished marble headstone with white lettering and the VC Cross, marked ‘For Valour,’ – the normal memorial used to mark the graves of VC holders.”

Mr Loebell also hopes relatives of Pte Wassall will attend a short service at the graveside to dedicate the memorial when it is readt.

“I believe there are still some relations, possibly grandchildren, living in Barrow,” he said.

Evening mail, Friday, February 22, 1985

< Back to Samuel’s Page >