A Remarkable tale of ex soldier from WW1

The fate of many men who were lucky to survive WW1 and there were not many, was not often a tale of betterment or transformation.
However one story about a man from Wallsend will soon be given the exposure it deserves. He sustained terrible wounds but became an operatic star and was so successful on radio.His name was John Collinson born in Shiremoor and brought up in Wallsend. He was an apprentice in the shipyards and went to Australia via South Africa arriving on the outbreak of War.
Like many of his age he enlisted into the Australian Imperiel forces and after service at the Dardanelles he found himself in France at the battle of the Somme in 1916 which was a slaughter house for young men.
He was severely wounded in October 1916 on his forearms and wrists and he never fully recovered the use of his hands thereafter.
John was invalided out of the army and through quirks of fate was introduced to Sir Henry Wood of the Proms concert fame. John was coming out of an anesthetic after an operation and was singing on the stretcher. Sir Henry thought he had a beautiful voice and arranged for him to appear in his next opera. As the fledgling BBC was just starting he played a role in appearing for the BBC and became a star from that.On 5th November 2018 a documentary will be shown on BBC about his life.
The story of Collinson who is credited as the first person to make a recording of Waltzing Matilda, the unofficial Australian natuionsl anthem is truly one of the most remarkable serendipity and some good coming of an awful situation. When his war injuries meant he could never have returned to his former occupation. His prospects were of poverty and hardship unemployment and this befell many returning injured servicemen.Not only physically but mentally as well.

  1. Hi Vicky, Some fascinating insights to the period and how chance encounters can make such a difference in someones life.

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