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Tribute to Victoria Cross Hero

A new memorial stone was unveiled in South Tyneside today to honour the memory of World War One hero and Victoria Cross winner Joseph Henry Collin.

The special ceremony, held at Joseph Collin House in Jarrow, marked the 100th anniversary of 2nd Lieutenant Collin's act of gallantry that won him the prestigious award. He was killed in action leading the defence of his men against the enemy.

Wreaths were laid by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Olive Punchion, as well as Captain Mark Armstrong, of the Duke of Lancaster Regiment - a direct descendent of Lt Collin's old regiment. There were also prayers of dedication and remembrance, the Last Post, a minute's silence and Reveille, played by Durham Light Infantry buglers.

The Mayor said: "It was a real honour to unveil this special stone, marking 100 years to the day that Joseph Henry Collin died defending his comrades.

"This new memorial in the town where he was born will not only recognise the gallant actions of 2nd Lt Collin and ensure his legacy lives on, but remind us all of the incredible bravery and sacrifices made by so many other members of the armed forces who fought for their country."

The Mayor was joined by the Mayoress, Mrs Mary French as well as local councillors and members of the Armed Forces community.

Councillor Ed Malcolm, Chairman of the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum, said: "Joseph Henry Collin was an extremely courageous soldier who was completely devoted to duty, right to the very end when he held back the enemy to save the rest of his platoon.

"It is fitting that he is honoured with this commemorative ceremony and stone. It will act as a lasting memorial and reminder of his contribution to the war effort while enabling people to remember him and pay their respects for many years to come."

2nd Lt Collin was born in Jarrow in April 1893, later moving to Carlisle. He was working as an assistant salesman at Hepworth & Sons tailors when he signed up to the armed forces, enlisting in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

He was killed in action the day before his 25th birthday on 9 April 1918, while serving in the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment at Orchard Keep, near Givenchy in France. He was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross for his act of bravery performed in his final moments.

It was on this day that his platoon of 16 men had offered a long and gallant resistance against heavy odds. With only five of his men remaining, the soldier slowly withdrew.

Single handed, 2nd Lt Collin attacked a German machine gun with a revolver and grenade, killing and wounding the entire crew. Observing a second hostile machine gun firing, he then mounted a Lewis gun on the exposed parapet. He held the enemy at bay until he was mortally wounded.

The Victoria Cross commemoration ceremony forms part of a national scheme that will see every Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War honoured with a paving stone in communities around the UK.

2nd Lt Collin is one of three South Tyneside men to be awarded the medal during the First World War. Commemorative stones were unveiled in honour of South Shields-born Private Henry Robson in December 2014 and Private Thomas Young from Boldon Colliery only last month.

Councillor Malcolm added: "This was the last of three special commemorative ceremonies held in South Tyneside in honour of the local heroes who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. This is the highest military award for gallantry and valour in the face of the enemy. It is important that these soldiers are remembered for their brave actions."

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