rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
Samuel Wassall VC - Any help on bold text
ANDY LEE


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 167
Location: Bournville,West Midlands, UK
Reply with quote
Call for Birmingham Zulu War hero to get Broad Street starBirmingham Post Feb 13 2012
A Victoria Cross hero who battled Zulu warriors should be recognised on Birmingham's Walk of Fame in Broad Street, a war historian has urged.

Mike Heaven, office manager for the Birmingham-based War Research Society, this week added his voice to the growing call for Private Samuel Wassall to be honoured by ‘his own people’.

Wassall received the highest military honour for plucking a wounded comrade from Buffalo River during the January 22, 1879, Battle of Isandlwana.

It was one of the blackest days in army history, with 1,300 troops slaughtered by Zulus. The Brummie’s bravery was highlighted in film Zulu Dawn.

Mr Heaven, 70, said: “I can’t see a reason why there should not be something commemorating Pte Wassall.

"People like him laid their lives on the line to save others, or died in the attempt. Perhaps his name on the walkway of stars in Broad Street?”

Wassall is believed to have been born in Alcester Street, Aston, on July 28, 1856, the son of a wire-maker. He worked as a apprentice dyer before joining the 80th Regiment (Staffordshire Volunteers), later the South Staffs Regiment, in 1874.

He was only 22 when the camp at Isandhlwana was over-run by Zulus. Wassall managed to reach Buffalo River and spotted a comrade, Pte Westwood, being carried downstream.

Though Zulus were on his tail, Pte Wassall sprang from his horse, swam out and rescued the soldier. They made it back to the bank and Pte Wassall managed to coax his horse across the river while dragging the injured man by his arm.

His selfless act almost went unnoticed. It was only when an officer overheard Pte Westwood speak of the daring rescue while recovering in hospital, that his heroics came to light.

The 70-year-old said: “He was the only one to get the VC at Isandlwana. Many years after the battle medals were given posthumously to two officers who escaped to save the colours.”

Those honours proved controversial, however, with some claiming the officers simply fled.


There is a stumbling block, however, a spokesman for the Staffordshire Regiment Museum pointed out. The Whittington museum has two addresses for Wassall’s place of birth which makes erecting a plaque difficult.
But assistant curator Willie Turner backed the plans. He said: “We certainly wouldn’t be against it because he was one of our ours. The more recognition, the better.”

Wassall’s medals have been kept at the museum for many years.

After leaving the army, Wassall settled in Barrow-in-Furness where he worked as a dockyard electrician. He and his wife had four sons and three daughters. He died aged 70 and his gravestone still stands in Barrow cemetery.

_________________
Andy Lee
Four for Valour
View user's profileSend private message
From my Records
ANDY LEE


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 167
Location: Bournville,West Midlands, UK
Reply with quote
Samuel Wassall was born at Number 11 Court, Alcester Street, Deritend, Aston, Birmingham, on 28th July 1856. He was the son of Thomas Wassall, a wire-worker, and his wife Elizabeth (formerly Silk). Samuel was apprenticed to a dyer before enlisting into the 80th Regiment (Staffordshire Volunteers), at Dudley, on 28th November 1874, being posted one week later.

_________________
Andy Lee
Four for Valour
View user's profileSend private message
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
Reply with quote
Andy

Well, most accounts agree with your version of his origins, although no doubt some of the websites featuring him have followed each other. There is, though, one which appears to rely on family information. The Register of the Victoria Cross ("This England", Cheltenham 1988) also gives Aston as his birthplace and 28 Jly 1856 as his date of birth.

Given that the museum is aware of two different addresses for his birthplace, and that several different Samuel Wassalls were born in the mid-1850s and grew up in the Birmingham area, what is needed is irrefutable evidence from his family (such as an original birth certificate which has come down through the family) or a military source which identifies his birthplace, DoB or parents. I've looked online unsuccesfully for his army service papers in WO97, which I presume have not survived.

In each decennial census in Barrow-in-Furness, Samuel gave his birthplace as Birmingham, except in 1911 when he said it was Dudley. (There again, his wife Rebecca gave Tipton, Staffs, except in 1911 when she also gave Dudley). In the national indices of civil registration, I see no registration of a Samuel Wassall in 1856, although non-registration of a birth was not at all unusual before the 1870s as there were no sanctions before then. In 1855 there was one in the Stourbridge Reg'n District, and two more in the same RD in 1857, when there was also one in Newport, Shropshire. None of these could refer to a birth registered in Aston, on the other side of the city. I suspect non-registration, although a birth cert is referred to in one website.

In the 1861 census there were no likely candidates - one in Worcs, two in Staffs, none matching your parents' names and one only a year or so old. In 1871, Samuel, 15, bricklayer, born Dudley, was the son of a Thomas. Had an elder brother Henry. One in Mount St, Aston, was only 10 or 11 yrs old and the son of a Josiah. Another in Kingswinsford was the son of a Richard & Fanny. In 1881, when Samuel was presumably still in the 80th (S/Staffords) the Aston chap was still in Aston, a gasfitter, and the Kings'w'd chap also still in civvy street, so eliminating themselves, going by the earlier entries.

I see a Samuel Henry Wassall enlisted in the S Staffs in 1893 and served in India. His mother, though, was an Eliza Deverant of Aston. Samuel (VC) had a son Samuel, one of the websites infers.

I'm sure previous research has been done to link the Aston birth with the VC, but I suppose the museum is demanding proof? The published Register (see above) may assist, or you might contact the site created by someone called Wassell, who may be a family member.

Let us know how you get on.

Peter

P.S. Looking around at various genealogical sites and comparing peoples' research - that term can sometimes be used advisedly! - at least one settles on Dudley for his birthplace in 1856 (without quoting a source that I can see) and one reproduces a copy of his marriage certificate to Rebecca Round in April 1882, by which time he is a civilian and a labourer, and gives his age as 23 - which would point to a birth between April 1858 & Apr 1859. Inaccurate ages on marriage certs were not unusual for a variety of reasons - if he had been 23 in Apr 1882, he'd only have been around 15 or so on enlistment if your date of 1874 is correct. He may have knocked a few years off his age when courting.
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
Reply with quote
Andy

Further to my earlier post on the possibility of non-registration of his birth because of the absence of an 1856 entry, there was, indeed, a birth of a Samuel registered in the Aston Reg Dist in the 3rd quarter of 1856. In this respect, the FindMyPast site has trumped Ancestry this time!

The indexed entry is spelt Wassell, which is neither here nor there as his surname was no doubt spelt both ways at different times in his life by whichever official was recording it, and uniformity of surname spelling was not yet well established when he was born. I had looked for both spellings in the Ancestry site too.

So that is the chap born in Aston - it seems highly likely (but not proven from this entry alone) that he is your man. Acquiring the cert may convince the museum, unless they say one of the others could still be the VC.

Peter
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Thank You
ANDY LEE


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 167
Location: Bournville,West Midlands, UK
Reply with quote
Thank you for all this Peter, really helpful. Will let you know how I get on.

Andy

_________________
Andy Lee
Four for Valour
View user's profileSend private message
Galloglas
Guest

Reply with quote
"The Brummie’s bravery was highlighted in film Zulu Dawn."

It's depressing stuff, isn't it. Whilst commemoration is a very supportable and praiseworthy cause, let's hope that it will draw attention to a more factual account - rather than something just plain garbled, however 'accessible'.

It would also be interesting if there could be a VC (and GC?) equivalent of the Blue Plaque.

But, as was experienced when Driver Charles Robson was to be commemorated at the Woolwich public cemetery, no doubt somebody will sooner or later leap forward to suggest that these commemorations are 'racist and imperialist'.

G
Mel


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 344
Reply with quote
I'm wondering if any progress has been made in determining Samuel's place of birth?
The Regimental Nominal Roll places him in Dudley.

Does anyone know of the source which states he was born in Moor Lane, Kingswinford?

_________________
Mel
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mail
Julian whybra


Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 435
Reply with quote
Has anyone looked at Samuel Wassall's marriage certificate? On there it will give his father's name. Having the father's name will help identify which birth certificate is the right one, provided his birth was actually registered.
It would also be worth checking to see if the parish registers survive for the two locations where he may have been born. Despite the introduction of birth registration in 1837, parishes continued to record baptisms often well into the mid to late 1800s. You might strike lucky.
View user's profileSend private message
Rusteze


Joined: 05 Oct 2009
Posts: 55
Location: Hampshire UK
Reply with quote
Samuel Wassall's marriage certificate to Rebecca Round gives his father as Thomas Wassall a Wireworker.

The 1871 census shows him living with his father Thomas (a widower) and brother at 21 Ayres Yard, Tower Street, Dudley, age 15 and a Bricklayer. His father is again a Wireworker. Samuel's place of birth is given as Birmingham (not Dudley).

Steve

_________________
Rusteze
View user's profileSend private message
Samuel Wassall VC - Any help on bold text
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 1 of 1  

  
  
 Reply to topic