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Middleman

WW1 your clubs fallen

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http://www1.skysports.com/cricket/news/12198/9399344/100-years-on-a-tribute-to-the-fallen-sporting-heroes-of-the-first-world-war

Read this link from the TV company that should most pubicise our sport, they run a piece about the fallen sportsman of WW1 and name practically evey sport bar RL.

I have no idea of the total number of Northern Union players who volunteered and who never made it back.

Does anybody have that info?

For Salford RL casualties see link below

http://salfordwarmemorials.proboards.com/thread/1200/salford-rugby-club-ww1-deaths

Playing records:-

Tom Williams , centre, debut sept 1897, 140 appearances. 84 tries

Jimmy Cook, Wing, debut Sept 1907, 161 appearances, 98 tries

Dave Preston, Scrum Half, debut December 1902, 256 appearances, 41 tries.

George Thom, Forward , debut Feb 1908, 157 appesrances , 6 tries.

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An event next month.

 

http://www.wlct.org/wigan/museums-archives/mowl/exhibitions/

 

We Shall Remember Them: Rugby Footballers in Khaki
Thursday 25th September - 12-1.15pm
£2.50 including tea/coffee

A look back at the rugby footballers of the Leigh and Wigan area who gave their lives for their Country during World War One. The casualty list included ten Leigh players including League Championship winners Sam Whittaker and Paddy O’Neill and Wigan’s star winger Lou Bradley. Mike Latham gives the background to their careers, time in the services and their tragic ends serving King and Country.

A special event as part of the First World War exhibition.
 

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An interesting comment that I read a number of years ago (can't remember where, it may have been Tony Collins) was that after WW1 very few RL clubs had any form of memorial to their fallen whereas most RU clubs did so. This was attributed to the fact that loss of life to those communities where RL was played wasn't such an unusual feature compared with other more comfortable communities. Anyone with a working understanding of conditions in coal mining and other heavy industries in the early 20th century would recognise this.

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I understand Tony Collins was a guest on a feature about sport and WW1 on 5 Live last night - I might stick it on the iPlayer and have a listen later.

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Disappointing that the article makes no mention of RL at all. Unbalanced in the fact that it makes mention of a VC awarded to a Park Avenue Footballer, but not to the same award made to Jack Harrison of Hull FC.

The BBC website does have an article though : http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-humber-28405119

I'd like to see, if it were at all possible over the next four years, a roll of honour for all those who played RL, served their country but never came home.

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Mike Latham has done a fantastic piece for Centurion tv on Leigh players killed in WW1

It's about 45 mins and is very very good, even though it's a subscription channel I hope he releases it to a wider audience- if any want to catch it a months subscription is £3.50 and you can watch the back catalogue as well

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I understand Tony Collins was a guest on a feature about sport and WW1 on 5 Live last night - I might stick it on the iPlayer and have a listen later.

Listening to it now. It starts with Eddie Butler doing his 'poetic declamation' thing and also has a Nicky Campbell interview. 14 minutes in and I hope it improves - but with Eleanor Oldroyd and Lewis Moody on the team, Rugby Union is, of course, the first feature.

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Okay, halfway through the programme, and hints have been dropped that non-RU sportsmen might get at least a mention in the second half.

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Going off topic slightly, but it would be nice to know the RFL have requested a minutes silence before all this weekend's fixtures.

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Okay, halfway through the programme, and hints have been dropped that non-RU sportsmen might get at least a mention in the second half.

I was appalled by the programme. Without wanting to make trivial of such a devastating time (my own grandfather was amongst the fallen) they couldn't have done a better PR job for Union (League did get one mention - Collins said that it was a popular sport before the war). Absolutely amazed that Collins didn't give any mention to any league players being involved in the war, although the guy from Leicester did let the penny drop when he said that most of the fallen from his club were upper class, officer types.

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I was appalled by the programme. Without wanting to make trivial of such a devastating time (my own grandfather was amongst the fallen) they couldn't have done a better PR job for Union (League did get one mention - Collins said that it was a popular sport before the war). Absolutely amazed that Collins didn't give any mention to any league players being involved in the war, although the guy from Leicester did let the penny drop when he said that most of the fallen from his club were upper class, officer types.

Football got a couple of small mentions. I believe it was quite a popular sport in the Allied countries. There was a token cricketer too. 

 

This was mainly a puff-piece for the marvellous and heroic rugger types, with the occasional detour before returning to standard Eleanor Oldroyd territory. Disgraceful opportunism.

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The BBC are getting worse, the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games proves that. The term 'rugby sevens' must have been the most used term.

In terms of the WW1 it was a disgrace that the county sent thousands of young men to catch bullets whilst the top brass, were safe as houses, nowhere near any trouble.

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The below was written by Steve Fox in 2004.

Ernie Swinton - A Widnes Hero


There has never been published a comprehensive history of Widnes Rugby League Club, and so it is that while the deeds of such as Sorensen, the Mylers, Karalius, Elwell & co. are known to most fans of the club, there are a whole host of players from beyond living memory whose exploits are now largely forgotten.

Ernest Swinton for example. I was recently reading an old brochure published in 1932 which contained a brief history of the first fifty years or so of rugby in the town. It mentioned in passing the death of former player Ernie Swinton in the First World War and it struck me that his story must be one worth telling and yet there were no other details given and nowhere else could I recall having read of his life and death. 

Surely, I thought, it must be possible to research some details of this player?

To start with, the excellent Player Database at the club's official website shows that he played 84 times in four seasons from 1910 to 1914. Clearly he was a regular choice during that time and his return of 42 tries was impressive for a Widnes player in that era. I have a copy of the teamsheets compiled by the Record Keepers Club of every Widnes line-up since 1895 so I was able to establish that Ernie made a try scoring debut on the right-wing at home to Ebbw Vale on New Year's Eve 1910.

He appeared in most games for the rest of that season, scoring 9 tries in total including a hat-trick in a 29-0 win over Dewsbury.He carried on where he left off in the following campaign, his 18 touchdowns equalling the seasonal club record at the time, but made only 9 appearances in 1912/13 which brought 5 tries. 1913/14 saw him cross for another 10 tries. And there his career ends as it began - with a try - at Batley on 18 April, 1914.

War broke out on 4 August that year and although Widnes and other clubs played on for a full 1914/15 season, Ernie Swinton's name does not appear on the teamsheets. A visit to the War Graves Commission website spells out why - "Name: Swinton, Ernest, Rank: Second Lieutenant, Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, Age: 25, Date of Death: 28/05/1915. Son of Thomas and Alice Swinton, of Queen's Arms Hotel, Widnes".

For him to have been in action in the spring of 1915 he must have enlisted in the early days of the war, given the months of training that were required beforehand. Personally I was fascinated by the detail of his parents, and presumably Ernie himself, having been based at the Queens Arms on Moor Lane, just a few hundred yards away from the ground. It's easy to imagine him making the short journey to training a couple of times a week, probably cutting across the fields in those days before the area was built up.

The next step for me was to check the microfiche records of the Weekly News at Widnes Library to establish what, if anything, was reported of his death. I wasn't expecting too much coverage - after all death was a commonplace during that terrible war - but I was astonished at what I found. The issue dated 28 May contained a few paragraphs which related that Ernie had sustained a serious injury in shelling and had lost a leg and part of one arm. However it suggested that, despite the severity of his wounds, he might survive. Of course it was not to be and the following Friday, 4 June, the paper devoted its entire front page (remember it was a broadsheet not a tabloid in those day) to an account of his funeral.

It stated "Never has a death and funeral so strongly touched the public imagination in Widnes as the passing and interment this week of Ernest Swinton, the well known athlete...it is estimated that the military funeral was witnessed by ten thousand sympathetic townspeople".

The tribute goes on to make mention of his academic career - he was a former pupil of Farnworth Grammar School and a graduate in engineering from Liverpool University - and his prize-winning athletics prowess. Of his rugby career it says that "He first played for the 'A' team, but after two matches his ability and speed ensured his elevation to the first team...When sprinting powers were needed he could always be relied upon, and some of the tries which he gained on the Lowerhouse Lane ground were acclaimed as worthy of the best wing threequarters in the (league)".

His fatal injuries occurred, it was reported, after he was chosen for a hazardous mission, on account of his engineering skills, and the newspaper is understandably enthusiastic as to the importance of his tasks (in fact historians record that the 'Battle' of Festubert was typical of the many hundreds of inconclusive and virtually pointless skirmishes which characterised the First World War and which achieved so little tactically but at huge cost in terms of casualties).

What was somewhat out of the ordinary in Ernest Swinton's death was that it occurred in this country, as he had been repatriated to London for medical treatment. Consequently his resting place is not "some corner of a foreign field" but rather St Lukes at Farnworth.

Having a spare twenty minutes one afternoon I thought I would try to find his grave - a hopeless task you might think in that crowded and overgrown cemetery but I quickly located it, only to find it in a poor state. The memorial (which also commemorates Ernest's parents and a grandparent) once featured an ornate Celtic cross but this is now broken (vandalised?) and part of it is missing.

It seems poignant beyond belief that the grave of this man, who was once an idol to a generation of rugby fans and whose military funeral was witnessed by thousands of mourners, now lies in a state of disrepair. The War Graves Commission is unable to undertake any structural repairs to the memorial though, to be fair, they have cleaned up and tidied the plot in recent weeks. It would be nice to think that we, as supporters of Widnes RL, could do something to remedy the situation though whether this would require permission from any surviving relatives is not clear.

What is certain is that the memory of Ernest Swinton deserves to be honoured as best we can.

 

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Going off topic slightly, but it would be nice to know the RFL have requested a minutes silence before all this weekend's fixtures.

 

 

Not forgetting the bicentenary of Waterloo next year.

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In terms of the WW1 it was a disgrace that the county sent thousands of young men to catch bullets whilst the top brass, were safe as houses, nowhere near any trouble.

 

In any war the "toppest brass" simply have to be protected from the action. Plenty of officers died in WW1, it was their job to lead the men over the top, as a glance at any town war memorial will tell you.

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Abide with me at the RLCC FINAL is very emotional for many people.I think this year it will be very solemn

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A bit off topic but there is a display with a Huddersfield shirt and boots relating to Douglas Clark who was a member of the team of all talents who was gassed twice and injured in WW1 and won some medals for bravery.

The display is in the Imperial War Museum at Salford. I was quite moved by it.

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On the BBC Rugby League webpage, there's a link to the story of Jack Harrison. Scroll down and it's just above the "Team by Team" section.

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Hi,

 

Birch Lane Heroes is a three year Heritage Lottery Funded project run by Bradford Bulls Foundation to research the impact of the First World War on the Bradford Northern Club (Bradford Bulls predecessor). It will research the players and staff at the club and their WW1 records, it also aims to engage their decsendants and the local community in the project.

 

A website including the names of all the players between 1914-1918 itentified from club records will soon be created watch this space. In the meantime if anyone has any knowledge or memorabilia relating to Bradford Northern at this time please get in touch.

 

http://www.bullsfoundation.org/

 

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Just read this thread and it saddens me that the deaths of men far braver than any of the keyboard warriors here are still sneered at by some just because they happened to play the wrong code of rugby. Have some respect for Christ sake. RU in Australia still suffers to this day from the huge losses the players and administrators suffered in WWI.

 

RIP

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Just read this thread and it saddens me that the deaths of men far braver than any of the keyboard warriors here are still sneered at by some just because they happened to play the wrong code of rugby. Have some respect for Christ sake. RU in Australia still suffers to this day from the huge losses the players and administrators suffered in WWI.

RIP

When did that happen? Has it been edited i can't see it anywhere.

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There will be a talk by Mike Lathom at Wigan Museum in November titled Rugby Players in Khaki. I'll post more details nearer the time.

 

Edit. Ahh just spotted Futtocks mentioned this earlier.

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In any war the "toppest brass" simply have to be protected from the action. Plenty of officers died in WW1, it was their job to lead the men over the top, as a glance at any town war memorial will tell you.

You're right on that, the worst death rates were the young officers leading from the front. Not every war memorial has lots of officers on though.My hometown Royton hardly has any, we definitely weren't officer class ;-)

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