Sunday, September 23, 2007

Football Battalion WW1

During World War One WW1, there were a number of "Pal's Battalions" . including two English Football battalions.

A "pal's battalion" was comprised of soldiers raised in the same locality or at the same occupation, who the Army agreed would serve with their friends for the duration of the war.

There were two Football Battalion's in England (and this is not including the Sportsmen's Battalion)

17th Duke of Cambridge's Own Battalion (1st Football), the Middlesex Regiment Formed in London on 12 December 1914, by Rt-Hon. W. Joynson Hicks, MP. July 1915 : attached to 100th Brigade, 33rd Division. 8 December 1915 : transferred to 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. 10 February 1918 : disbanded in Belgium.

23rd (Service) Battalion (2nd Football), the Middlesex Regiment
Formed in London on 29 June 1915, by Rt-Hon. W. Joynson Hicks, MP. November 1915 : attached to 123rd Brigade, 41st Division.

Clapton Orient (now Leyton Orient) was the first English Football League club to enlist together. Following the example of club captain, Fred Parker, around 40 players and staff volunteered. Leading goal-scorers Richard McFadden and William Jonas were amongst those killed during the Battle of the Somme.

14th (Service) Battalion (Swansea), the Welsh Regiment. Formed at Swansea, October 1914, by the Mayor and Corporation and the Swansea Football and Cricket Club. November 1914 : attached to 129th Brigade, 43rd Division. 28 April 1915 : formation became the 114th Brigade, 38th Division.

The 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Edinburgh) was known variously as Sir George McCrae's Battalion or "McCrae's Own" or, locally, as "Hearts Battalion". The entire Heart of Midlothian first team joined up in November 1914. Hearts were top of the Scottish League at the time.

Third Lanark, Heart of Midlothian his particular battalion (16/Royal Scots) was formed from players and supporters of Heart of Midlothian FC. McCrae himself was the local MP and he did serve with the battalion for a small period.
Famous Scottish Football Club Third Lanark joined the Third Lanark Riflemen Volunteers

Walter Tull (1888-1918)

Born 28th April 1888 in Kent

Played for Leyton Orient,Tottenham and Northampton Town, Walter thus become the first black outfield professional player (the first being goalie Arthur Walton for Preston North End).

When WW1 broke out and he enlisted in the 17th(1st Football)Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, as did many other professional players

By 1916 he was a sergeant and fought in the first battle of the Somme. Suffering from trench fever, Walter was brought back to England to recuperate. His superiors heard constant reports of the man's courage, popularity and leadership skills and they took a remarkable decision - to recommend Walter for a commission, ignoring the Army regulations that forbade 'any negro or person of colour' holding officer rank. Walter Tull was commissioned lieutenant in May 1917 and in doing so became the first British-born black officer in the Army.

Sent to the Italian front, this first British-born black officer in the British Army led his men at the Battle of Piave, and was commended for his 'gallantry and coolness'.

During the second battle of the Somme, On 25th March, 1918, 2nd Lieutenant Walter Tull was ordered to lead his men on an attack on the German trenches at Favreuil. Soon after entering No Mans Land, Tull was hit by a German bullet. Tull was such a popular officer that several of his men made valiant efforts under heavy fire from German machine-guns to bring him back to the British trenches. These efforts were in vain as Tull had died soon after being hit. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medal and recommended for a Military Cross.