A Barrow V.C.



Mr Samuel Wassall, Barrow’s veteran V.C.; passed away in the North Lonsdale Hospital on Monday in his 70th Year.

The deceased won his coveted decoration in the Zulu war in 1879 for gallant conduct in rescuing a comrade at the risk of his own life, when the camp at Isandhlwana on the Tufela River, about 10 miles from Rorke’s Drift was surprised and attacked.

Private Wassall who was attached to the 80th Regiment, during a retreat towards Buffalo River, saw a comrade struggling in the water, and in great peril of being either drowned or killed by the advancing enemy. He at once galloped to the riverside, dismounted, and under a hail of bullets entered the water and succeeded with great daring in dragging his comrade to the bank, and afterwards effecting his escape.

In that action, which was fought on January 22nd, 1879, Private Wassall was one of a small number of British soldiers who were assailed by an overwhelming force of Zulus whom they succeeded in eventually driving off. Private Wassall was only 21 years of age, and had the distinction of being the youngest man in the British Army at that time to win the V.C., for which honour he was gazetted on July 17th, 1879.

Private Wassall was always proud to take his place with ex-Service men on ceremonial occasions at which the military were present. He attended the unveiling of the cenotaph in Barrow Public Park by General Sir W. Robertson, who shook hands with Private Wassall and congratulated him. On this and subsequent Armistice Days Private Wassall was invariably asked to place the ex-Service men’s laurel wreath on the memorial. He was one of several other Barrow members who were introduced to the King at Furness Abbey station when his Majesty, with the Queen, visited Barrow on May 17th, 1917.

In July 1920, he was present at a reception by the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace, which, he afterwards declared; was one of the greatest experiences of his life. It was his first visit to London, but the third time on which he had shaken hands with the King.

Private Wassall, lived at 34, Lyon street, having resided in Barrow for 46 years. He is survived by his widow, four sons and three daughters.

The News, Saturday, February 5, 1927.


Private Samuel Wassall, V.C., late of the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Foot, now the 2nd Batallion South Staffordshire Regiment, who died at Barrow yesterday, in his 70th year, was present at the disaster of Isandlwana, in the Zulu War, on January 22, 1879. He was awarded the Victoria Cross in the following circumstances :- When the camp was sacked and nearly every man massacred, he was one of a few fugitives who succeeded in reaching the Buffalo River, six miles away. Wassall had just begun to ford the river when he saw one of his comrades, Private Westwood, being carried down the stream, with every appearance that he would be drowned. Though the Zulus were close behind, Wassall without hesitation sprang from his horse, which he tied to a tree on the Zulu bank of the river, swam to his comrade’s assistance, and brought him back to the shore. Then, remounting his horse, he urged the animal across the river, dragging the exhausted man by the hand, and succeeded in getting him safely to the opposite side, in spite of brisk fire kept up by the enemy, who had then reached the bank of the river.

The Times 1927


The following deaths are announced:

Mr. Samuel Wassall, who as a private in the 80th Regiment won the Victoria Cross for saving a comrade’s life at Isandhlwana in 1879 during the Zulu War, at Barrow-in-Furness, aged 70.

Daily Mail 1927



Covered with the flag he loved so well, and fought so bravely for, the mortal remains of Mr. Samuel Wassall, Barrow’s veteran V.C., who died in the North Lonsdale Hospital on Monday in his 70th year, were laid to rest in Barrow Cemetary on Thursday afternoon. Quietly but reverently the people of Barrow paid their last tribute to the gallant old gentleman, and even his comrades at Lichfield, the headquarters of his old regiment, were represented by Sergt. F. Smith, 2nd Batt. South Staffords. Regt.

Crowds assembled in the streets near his residence, 34, Lyon-street about half an hour before the cortege proceeded to borne an open hearse and was almost obscured by the many beautiful wreaths, tokens of affection and respect.

A detachment from the 4th Battn. King’s Own Royal Regt. headed the cortege, and at the church door formed a guard of honour through which the coffin was borne on the shoulders of four sergeants, including Sergt. Smith.

Following the coffin came Capt. R. H. Horne, T.D. Capt. H. B. Palmer, and buglers from the 4th Battn. King’s Own. Members of the British Legion also attended and included Mahor Oughterson, Lieut. Spencer, Lieut. Tickle, Quartermaster Jones and others. Mr R. N. Hunt (an ex-Marine) represented the local branch of the Navy League.

The service at the church was conducted by the Vicar, after which the firing party assisted by the Rev. G. C. Potts. At this cemetary the last rites were performed by the Vicar, after which the firing party fired three volleys. As the bugle strains of “The Last Post” died away, one of England’s heroes reposed peacefully in his last resting place.

The chief mourners were the widow; Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Wassall, Mr and Mrs. Albery Wassall, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Wassall and Mr. Henry Wassall, sons and daughters-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. Sutton, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. E. Huddard, daughters and sons-in-law; Mr. Albert and Mr. George Wassall; nephews; Mr. George and Mr. Herbert Sutton; grandchildren.

The floral tributes included those from Major Oughterson, Commander Craven, R.N., O.B.E., members and committee of the Gasworkers’ Institute, electrical department. Barrow Shipyard, South Staffordshire Regiment, and Old COmrades Association, Lichfield.

Messrs. W. Ormandy and Sons were the undertakers.

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