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Remembered Today:

John Collins VC


hammond146

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Hi,

I'm researching John Collins VC of the Royal Welch Fusiliers who won his award at Beersheeba in October 1917. I have some basic information about him and the action in which he won the medal but I'm wondering if someone has or could point me in the right direction for a detailed description of the action. I'm also looking for a photo.

Thanks

Brian

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Also see the 'V.C.s of the First World War' by Gerald Gliddon, 'The Sideshows' ISBN 0-7509-2084-X

An account of the action and biography of Jack Collins on pages 150 - 153 inclusive.

Recommended.

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Brian

His DCM citation from Ancestry UK :

For Conspicuous Gallantry and devotion to duty. As soon as the enemy opened fire at point blank range he rallied all the men near him,took control of a portion of the line and brought every available rifle to bear on the enemy. During the consolidation he did exceptionally good work,and later,when the enemy counter-attacked,went under heavy fire from post to post to see that they were being held to the best advantage. His ability and devotion to duty were of the highest order. (1.5.1918).

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Be intrested to know why he ended up being buired in Merthyr Tydfil. It appears he had ties to the town just after the war and did't die until the 1950's.

http://www.alangeorge.co.uk/thetank.htm see the top picture in the link.

EDIT. He moved to Merthyr when he was 10. Served in the Boer war, looks like he joined Welsh regiment before moving to the Fusilers.

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  • 6 months later...
Guest Cadfarch

Hello there. I have done a lot of research into the Welsh Horse. We perform cavalry and living history displays as the Welsh Horse. He moved to the Merthyr area, and remained there all his life. He was a CSM in the Home Guard in WW2. He joined the Welsh Horse in Cardiff in August 1914, and interestingly, he is shown in the referred photograph still wearing rogramme about him on TV, and it was very much RWF based, but at the very end they showed a full length portrait of him clearly wearing the WH cap badge. If you want any more information please reply. Delighted to help.

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Guest Cadfarch

Sorry I did not check my previous reply. Jack Collins served in the Merthyr Home Guard in WW2 as CSM. The referred photograph shows him wearing the WH cap badge.

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  • 8 months later...

I have undertaken a fairly extensive research into the personal and military life of John Collins V.C. (my wife's paternal grandfather) for inclusion in the Merthyr Historian. This was published by the Merthyr Tydfil Historical Society in volume 23 January 2012 (pages 135 to148 incl.) ISBN 0-9544201-9-5.

Copies can be purchased at various outlets in Merthyr, and available at the central library.

Malcolm Payne

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  • 2 years later...
On 29/03/2015 at 20:39, MKPayne said:

I have undertaken a fairly extensive research into the personal and military life of John Collins V.C. (my wife's paternal grandfather) for inclusion in the Merthyr Historian. This was published by the Merthyr Tydfil Historical Society in volume 23 January 2012 (pages 135 to148 incl.) ISBN 0-9544201-9-5.

Copies can be purchased at various outlets in Merthyr, and available at the central library.

Malcolm Payne

 

Malcolm

 

Did you manage to narrow down the site of his VC actions? I know the route the Bn took but I am not sure where exactly they lay out in the open.

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You may be interested to know that Collins' VC group is currently on show at Wrexham Museum, in an exhibition on the RWF in Egypt and Palestine 1915-18.  Includes other related gallantry awards, sketches by an officer of 1/6th RWF,  Brangwyn's painting "The entry of the Welsh troops into Jerusalem", Union flag flown over Allenby's HQ, etc.

 

Clive

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Does the exhibition state the exact location of the action? 

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On 24/09/2017 at 02:26, Gareth Davies said:

Does the exhibition state the exact location of the action? 

 

In the remote chance you have not seen the published history Vol IV..... it was 600 yards from the Turkish lines near Wadi Saba. The limestone feature of the Turkish line should provide a reference point on the ground..

 

Page 152 refers:

https://archive.org/stream/regimentalrecord04dudl#page/152/mode/2up

 

And a photo of him opposite page 154

https://archive.org/stream/regimentalrecord04dudl#page/154/mode/2up

 

I know you will have this, but for the interest of others. Note the spot heights in the Turkish line...suggesting the highest feature. ...if one took a point along the line of advance of the 25th Bn RWF and stopped it 600 yards before the Turkish line, that would probably get you near. 

 

Out of interest the ground doent look particularly flat and seems to be riddled with deep gullies and dead ground. Difficult to defend I would imagine.

25RWF.jpg.2120aca012f420eec7c3bb8883c5da3c.jpg

25RWF2.jpg.33e3acf04bf53dd9cd8c3bcca3b739e0.jpg

 

 

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I walked the area in March so I know the ground ( it's actually an IDF live firing range).  I was wondering if any Regimental records gave a bit more detail than the OH.

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Gareth,

I doubt whether the exhibition would state more than that the decoration was won "near Beersheba".  The war diary of 25th RWF might have more information, there will be a copy at the regimental archives in Wrexham Museum - I intend to pop over on Tuesday so will ask.  

 

Someone else who might know is Alister Williams, whose interest goes beyond his two-volume study of Welsh VC winners Heart Of A Dragon.  

 

The RWF Regimental History and that of 74th Division state that the 24th and 25th RWF had edged to the right of the intended line of  advance, and approached to within 600 yards of the Turkish line before pausing to lie down on open, stony ground while the artillery engaged the enemy positions and wire.  The trenches  they faced were across "a deep depression" and were cut into the white limestone (any traces today?) with a strong belt of wire 70 - 100 yards before them.  There is a reference to enemy trenches Z7 and Z6 (esp. the former perhaps) in the artillery fire orders but the maps I have accessed only show them vaguely.   

 

Clive

 

 

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Thank you.

 

The trenches are still there.

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On 9/24/2017 at 08:01, Gareth Davies said:

Thank you.

 

The trenches are still there.

Gareth, I`m away from home for a couple of weeks - but Wrexham is just up the road from us if you want me to go and have a look.

 

Paul

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Had a quick word with Alister Williams: he can't add any more to the question of the exact location of the "open ground" in question.

 

Over to the archives tomorrow!

 

Clive

 

PS - would a trench map equivalent for that sector and date be useful?  They must have been in use, and if so in UK archives?   If trenches Z6 and Z7 can be found on it and compared with a modern aerial type view, then 600 yards from them would be about the right area. 

Edited by clive_hughes
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19 minutes ago, pjwmacro said:

Gareth, I`m away from home for a couple of weeks - but Wrexham is just up the road from us if you want me to go and have a look.

 

Paul

 

Thanks for the offer but it's okay, I know close enough where he was.

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Went in today: the VC itself is on show, not his other medals, and no detailed information about the action.

 

I did check the transcript of the 25th RWF war diary.  They were indeed aiming at trenches Z6 and Z7, with the battalion to attack from map ref. H23 a 93 to H23 c 82 with 24th RWF.   They came under heavy shellfire overnight 30/31 Oct causing losses, and a probe by a patrol in the early hours was stopped by sniper fire in Y Wadi. The attack went in at 06:48, D Coy. on the left and A Coy. on the right leading, with C and B coys in support.  They came under mg. and rifle rife before reaching Y Wadi .  At 07:30 a message stated that British artillery had ceased fire owing to poor visibility from dust.  

 

The battalion slowly pushed on under fire of various kinds, until eventually stopped to wait until the artillery could concentrate on the enemy line immediately facing them.   They dug in as best they could, but with casualties increasing.  The comment was "it was very hot and trying lying out in the open".   Soon after noon, the guns were able to open up, and the unit moved forward and took the position.  220 casualties, including Capt. Fitz Hugh (who Collins tried to rescue), 140 prisoners taken.   Bivouacked at ref. H23 a.   

 

Note: as a transcript, appendices were not included.  These plus other orders, maps etc. might be with the original version and/or 231 Brigade and 53 Divisional diaries at Kew.  

Edited by clive_hughes
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Thank you Clive.

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