Private John Vasey
John Vasey was born c. 1886 in Durham, the fourth child and second son of John Vasey, a coach or carriage painter, and his wife Mary. The Vaseys were a Durham family, and lived at 64 Hallgarth Street in 1881, and then in Church Street from 1891 to 1911. John Vasey will have attended local schools before working first as a printer in 1901, then as a butler to Canon J.T. Fowler and then as a footman at Hatfield Hall, where Fowler was Vice-Principal (1870-1917).
He signed his attestation papers at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 8 December 1915, enlisting into the Durham Light Infantry. He served at Home until entering France on 2 December 1916 with the 3rd Battalion, but was then transferred first to the 15th Battalion and then the 10th Battalion. He was wounded in the left elbow on 22 August 1917. The war diary (WO 95/1908/1) of the 10th Battalion indicates this probably occurred near Zillebeke Bund (Lake) east of Ypres, in the first of three days of heavy action in which half the battalion’s strength was killed or wounded. This was just a small part of the Battle of Passchendaele which was fought between July and November 1917. Vasey's service records indicate that he was treated by 43 Field Ambulance and at 75 Casualty Clearing Station the following day. A decision was quickly made to return Vasey to England to recover, and he was in England on 30 August. He was treated in a Manchester hospital.
Private John Vasey’s death occurred on 3 October in an unlucky railway accident. Not long after his homeward train pulled out from Manchester station, at Droylsden, Vasey sustained severe head injuries when he put his head out of the window of his carriage and was struck. He was quickly taken on to Ashton-under-Lyne but died before he reached the infirmary there. His family and friends were even then preparing to welcome him home.
He was buried at St Oswald’s Church in Durham, his coffin carried by members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a fraternal organisation of which Vasey was also a member. Memorials in his memory are also found at Durham Town Hall, St Oswald’s Church and in Hatfield College chapel. A plaque was also erected in the smoking room of the Comrades Club in Durham City.