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Footballers of World War 1


Walter Tull

Vivian Woodward

Teams: Clapton, Tottenham Hotspur, Northampton Town ABOUT: Walter Tull joined the Football Battalion in 1914. Tull was the second black professional football player and the first black combat officer in the British army. He was known for his “gallantry and coolness” under fire. Tull was killed in Favreuil, France on March, 1918. Campaigners have called for Tull to be awarded the Military Cross posthumously.

Teams: Clacton Town, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, England (National Team) ABOUT: Vivian Woodward was part of the Football Battalion in 1914. Woodward was wounded by a hand grenade in January, 1916. He was sent back to England to recover, but returned to the Western Front in August, 1916. After the war, Woodward played the occassional football game, but never returned to his former glory.

Evelyn Lintott

Frank Buckley

Teams: Plymouth Argyle, Queens Park Rangers, Bradford City, Leeds City ABOUT: Evelyn Lintott joined the Football Battalion as a second Lieutenant. Other members of this regiment included Walter Tull and Vivian Woodward. Lieutenant Evelyn Lintott was later transfered to the West Yorkshire Regimnet. He was killed on the first day of the Somme on 1st July 1916.

Teams: Aston Villa, Brighton & Hove albion, Manchester United, Manchester City, Birmingham City, Derby County, Bradford City, Norwich City ABOUT: Frank Buckley was the first person to join the Football Battalion. He started as a Lieutenant and was later promoted to the rank of Major. Buckley was badly injured at the Battle of the Somme when metal shrapnel punctured his lungs. After recovery, Buckley returned to the battlefield, but was sent home again as his lungs couldn’t cope with the poison gas the Germans used during battle.


Leigh Roose

Jack Tresadern

Teams: Aberystwyth Town, Druids, London Welsh, Stoke, Everton, Sunderland, Celtic, Port Vale, Huddersfield Town, Aston Villa, Woolwich Arsenal ABOUT: When WW1 started Leigh Roose joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He worked in a hospital in Rouen, France. He was then transfered to the Evacuation Hospital in Gallipoli. He then joined the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers as a private. He was sent to the Western Front and won the Military Medal for Bravery while Fighting in the Battle of the Somme. Roose was killed during battle in October, 1916

Teams: Wanstead, Barking Town, West Ham United, Burnley, Northampton Town ABOUT: Jack Tresadern joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. He reached the rank of Lieutenant during the war. Tresadern is described as being a very intelligent man, one newspaper commented that Tresadern was “undoubtedly one of the cleverest halves the West Ham Club has ever had.� Tresadern played football after the war for various teams and died on 25th December, 1959.

George Pyke

Donald Bell

Teams: Newcastle United, Blyth Spartans ABOUT: George Pyke joined the Football Battalion in 1914 along with Frank Buckley, Vivian Woodward and Evelyn Lintott. Pyke played football for Newcastle United after the war. He was later transfered to Blyth Spartans where he played from 1922 till 1927, scoring a total of 136 goals for the club.

Teams: Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Bradford Park Avenue ABOUT: Donald Bell was reportedly the first professional footballer to join the British Army. Two days after his marriage in 1915 he was sent to France. Bell took part in the Battle of the Somme. On July 5, 1916 Bell filled his pockets with grenades and attached an enemy machine-gun post. He was killed when he tried to repeat this act 5 days later. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for these actions.


in the earth and Angus’ Lieutenant, James Martin, was thought to be one of the causalities of the explosion. However, Martin was seen to move and was still alive but could not return to the trenches by himself. Angus volunteered to rescue Martin even though it was extremely dangerous.

William Angus Teams: Carluke Rovers, Glasgow Celtic, Wisham Athletic ABOUT: William Angus joined the Highland Light Infantry. On 11th June, Angus’ regiment led a covert bombing raid on an embankment in front of German trenches. The enemy detonated a large mine hidden

Angus reach Martin by crawling through No Man’s Land without being detected by the enemy. However, the German’s opened fire soon after Angus reached Martin and Angus shielded Martin from the bullets with his own body. Angus tied a rope to Martin’s body and instructed his regiment to pull Lieutenant Martin back to safety. Angus then managed to drag himself back to the trenches despite being shot several times. Angus lost his left eye and part of his right foot from gunshot wounds. His commanding officer later wrote, “No braver deed was ever done in the history of the British Army.” For this amazing act of bravery Angus became the first professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Jimmy Speirs

Edwin Latheron

Teams: Maryhill, Rangers, Clude, Bradford City, Leeds City, Scotland (National) ABOUT: During WW1 James (Jimmy) Speirs enlisted in the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. He was posted to France in 1916. Speirs was promoted to the rank of sergeant after winning the Military Medal for bravery. Speirs was killed at Passchendaele on 20th August, 1917.

Teams: Grangetown Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool (guest), England (national) ABOUT: During WW1 Edwin Latheron joined the British Army and served on the Western Front with the Royal Field Artillery. Latheron was killed during battle at Passchendaele on the 14th October, 1917. Latheron is considered one of the most famous footballers to be killed in the war.


Sandy Turnbull Teams: Manchester City, Manchester United, Rochdale (guest), Clapton Orient (guest) ABOUT: Sandy Turnbull left Manchester United at the outbreak of the First World War, having scored 90 goals in 220 games. He joined the Footballer’s Battalion in 1915. Turnbull was killed while fighting on the Western front at Arras in May 1917.

Charlie Buchan Teams: Woolwich Arsenal, Leyton, Sunderland, Arsenal ABOUT: At the start of the war Charlie Buchan joined the Grenadier Guards. He was sent to the Western Front in 1916 where he fought at the Somme, Cambrai and Passchendaele. Buchan was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. After the war Buchan played football as well as returned to his former teaching job.

Jack Cock

William Baker

Teams: West Kensingston United, Forest Gate, Old Kingstonians, Huddersfield Town, Chelsea, Everton, Plymouth Argyle, Millwall ABOUT: Jack Cock joined the Football Battalion after the war started. Jack eventually rose to the rank of Sergeant-Major during the war. At one point he was reported as ‘missing, presumed dead’. He earned a Military Medal for Bravery. After the war he continued to play football professionally. Jack is the main character in Tom Palmer’s book, Over the Line.

Teams: Green Waves, Plymouth Argyle ABOUT: William Baker joined the Footballer’s Battalion in 1915. Baker rose to the rank of Sergent. During the Battle of the Somme on October 22nd, 1916 in Serre, France William Baker was killed. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery and is commemorated in the Sucrerie military cemetery at Colincamps.


16th Royal Scots Teams: Hearts, Hibernian, Falkirk, and Raith Rovers ABOUT: At the outbreak of war people were upset that footballers were not signing up for the war effort, as they were fit and ablebodied men. General Sir Henry Rawlison believed that men would be more likely to join the army

if they could fight alongside their friends and neighbours. He said that the army should create ‘Pals Battalions’ of men from the same villages or towns, or men who worked together. The top team in Scotland in August 1914 was Heart of Midlothian, in Edinburgh. The public began to say that they were cowards, and angry letters began to appear in the newspapers. An Edinburgh businessman called Sir George McCrae launched an appeal to the young men of Edinburgh to join his battalion – the 16th Royal Scots – for active duty in the field. He vowed to raise a battalion in just seven days. Many people thought this was impossible. But then the news came that 13 Heart of Midlothian players had joined McCrae’s Battalion. They were the first football club in Britain to do this. Within days, hundreds of Heart supporters followed their heroes and joined the battalion. McCrae needed 1,350 men, and he got them. Many were football players from other clubs – Hibernian FC, Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Dunfermline and others. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, McCrae’s battalion fought to try to regain the village of Contalmaison. That day saw some of the worst casualty numbers in the history of the British army. 20,000 men died. 40,000 were badly wounded. By the end of that day, McCrae’s battalion had lost three quarters of their men. The formation of the 16th Royal Scots was the main inspiration behind the formation of the Footballers’ Battalion.

players were killed: Richard McFadden, George Scott, and William Jonas. Many other members of the Clapton Orient team sustained wounds which prevented them from resuming their football careers after the war ended. On 30 April, 1921 the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, came to watch the Orients play a football game against Notts County. The Orients won 3-0. This was the first time a member of royalty had attended a Football League match. The point of the visit was to show gratitude for Clapton Orient’s patriotic example during World War 1. A plaque was erected on the site of the Millfields Road Stadium to commemorate this historic event.

Clapton Orient F.C. Teams: Clapton Orient F.C. ABOUT: At the beginning of the war 41 members of the Clapton Orient team and staff joined the Footballers’ Battalion. This was the highest number of volunteers from any football team in the country and the first to join up together in such a large group. During the Battle of the Somme, three


Robert Torrance

Bernard Vann

Teams: Kirkintillock Rob Roy, Bradford City ABOUT: Robert Torrance was a Scottish footballer that joined the war effort as a munitions worker before enlisting as a soldier. Torrance was a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery. In 1918 during the German’s final all-or-nothing offensive Torrance was badly injured and lost an arm. He reportedly died later that day, although his exact cause of death is not confirmed. His body was never found, and it is believed he is buried in an unmarked grave.

Teams: Northampton Town, Burton United F.C., Derby County ABOUT: As WW1 started Bernard Vann volunteered as a British Army chaplain, but ended up enlisting in the Artists Rifles where he became a Lieutenant. Vann was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy. He was also awarded the Military Cross medal for his actions at Kemmel on 24th April, 1915.

Tim Coleman

Philip F. Fullard

Teams: Kettering Town, Northampton Town, Woolwich Arsenal, Everton, Sunderland, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Tunbridge Wells Rangers ABOUT: At the start of the war Tim Coleman joined the Footballer’s Battalion. Coleman fought on the Western Front in the run up to the Somme. It is here that Coleman won the Military Medal for bravery. After the war Coleman gave up playing football.

Teams: Norwich City ABOUT: Philip enlisted as an Army officer in the British Army, initially with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. Later he learned to fly and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. Fullard was awarded the Military Cross and the Air Force Cross for his actions during the war. He was also recommended for the Victoria Cross.


Footballers of WW1