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The Remembrance of Samuel Wassall

The remembrance of the funeral of Samuel Wassall
A Comic Strip Sparks Hunt for Hero Grandad

An adventure story in the Hotspur boys comic 16 years ago brought a grand-daughter of the only Victoria Cross war hero to be buried in Barrow back to her home town.

For the colour comic strip told the story of how Samuel Wassall VC rescued a drowning comrade under enemy fire during the Zulu war in 1879.

And Mrs Hilda Wright believes her inquiries, sparked off by the strip, enabled an invitation to the biggest gathering of the Wassall clan for generations to reach her.

Mrs Wright, 58, from Warrington was one of 85 descendants of the war hero who gathered round his grave in Barrow cemetary to take part in a remarkable memorial ceremony.

Official recognition was conferred on Pte. Wassall 60 years after his burial following the discovery by the Barrow Royal British Legion branch of the grave - with no headstone.

The branch raised 200 to pay for the headstone - erected by Barrow mason Mr Victor Grozan free of charge - and organised the ceremony which was held at the graveside on Saturday.

Place of honour at the graveside was taken by Maj. Edward Green, regimental secretary of the Staffordshire Regiment which is the modern descendant of Pte. Wassall's Staffordshire Volunteers.

The service was conducted by British Legion padre the Rev. Bill Hayward, a wreath was laid by branch president Mr. Derek Lyon and Barrow major Coun. Mrs Irene Lucas attended.

After memorial prayers the Last Post was sounded by L/C Robery Boyd of the Band Detachment, who then played Reveille. Legion colours were borne by branch standard bearer Mr Geoff Dempsey.

Also in attendance was chairman of Barrow public amenities committee Coun. George ???, whose committee unanimously voted to tend the grave free of charge.

But most of all it was the relatives day - all 83 of the representing five generations.

Present were the oldest grand-son, Mr. George Sutton, 78, West Row, Roose and the oldest grand-daughter Minnie Crawford, 69, from Be??erley Avenue, Barrow.

Family

At the other end of the scale were three-year-old Jill Balla??tyne and her nine-week-old sister Michelle of Queen Street, Barrow, the youngest great-great-granddaughters of the war hero.

Many had not met for years and family tales were swapped including the Hotspur story. Mrs Wright said: "My son showed me the comic and had Samuel's story in a st?? on back and front.

"I wrote off to his regiment for more information and this is how they knew where to find me. I now have the original of that comic strip from 16 years ago."
 

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