Samuel Wassall VC

9 Sep

Hello Everybody I hope you the reader finds this interesting. Quite a while ago I was in the Barrow-in Furness cemetery where I noticed a grave headstone with the name Samuel Wassall VC. Looking closer it read he won his Victoria Cross at Isandhlwana Zululand on 29th January 1879. Having watched the film Zulu Dawn probably the same as you have. I was always under the impression no one survived the battle against the 20,000 Zulu warriors, how wrong I was.
Samuel Wassall was born in the Birmingham on July 28th 1856. During the year 1874 he joined the 80th Regiment known has the Staffordshire Volunteers, which later became the South Staffordshire Regiment. The regiment was part of Lord Chelmsford’s force that was sent to South Africa to put down the Zulu uprising. Part of Chelmsford’s force of over 1300 men of which Samuel Wassall was with, were camped at Islandhlwana in Zululand. Without warning the camp was attacked by an overwhelming force of Zulus. In the ensuing vicious battle, the camp was over-run with most of the 1300 defenders killed. Samuel Wassall managed to find a loose horse as the Zulus were slaughtering the last remnants of resistance. He rode to the Buffalo River closely being chased by a section of Zulus. On reaching the river he noticed another soldier of the regiment drowning in the river on which he was struggling to cross. Bravely without thought to his own safety, he tied the horse to a tree on the Zulu side of the river and plunged into the flowing river and brought the drowning man to the riverbank. The Zulu warriors were close on his tail now. He remounted his horse under heavy fire dragging his comrade across the river to safety. For this act of bravery Samuel Wassall was awarded the Victoria Cross at the ripe old age of twenty two.
What this man went through must have been horrendous for what he had seen and heard. One cannot fully comprehend the bravery shown by many of our fellow countrymen such as Samuel Wassall VC. On leaving the army he married and settled down in Barrow-in- Furness for the next 46 years. Samuel Wassall VC died in his 70th year in 1927 and was buried with full military honours. The headstone of his grave was erected by his former regiment a few years ago, which is a fitting tribute to him and his famous regiment. Samuel Wassall’s Victoria Cross is in the regimental museum of the Staffordshire Regt.

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