Corporal John (Jack) Collins

10 September 1880 – 3 September 1951:-

John Collins, known as Jack, was born in Bickenhall, Somerset. At the age of 13, he moved with his family to Penydarren, Glamorgan. He fought in the Boer War along with his three brothers, earning the family the nickname “the fighting family of Penydarren”.

Jack then worked as a tip labourer at Bedlinog Colliery, Penydarren before enlisting in the Welsh Horse Yeomanry at the start of the First World War. As part of the 25th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry in the action at Foka on 30 November 1917.

On 31st October 1917 at Wadi Saba, Beersheba, Palestine, he repeatedly went out when his battalion was forced to lie out in the open under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, and brought back many wounded. In subsequent operations he rallied his men and led the final assault with great skill in spite of heavy fire at close range and uncut wire. He bayonetted 15 of the enemy and with a Lewis gun section covered the reorganization and consolidation most effectively although isolated and under fire from snipers and guns.

Jack died in Merthyr Tydfil on 3 September 1951 and was given a military funeral. He was buried in an unmarked grave as his wife could not afford a headstone. However, after hearing of this, the town and British Legion raised the funds required and a headstone was placed in 1957. His Victoria Cross is held at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum at Caernarfon Castle.

Filed under: WW1