Preston Grasshoppers and World War One
The 4th of August 2014 is the one hundredth anniversary since the beginning of this particularly shocking conflict between Great Britain & Germany. So it’s worth a few words remembering the loss of life together with a sprinkling of good news and decorations reported about just a few of those with connections to Preston Grasshoppers.
What follows are photographs and extracts from newspaper acknowledgements about just a few of these brave individuals.
Reported December 1915;
Southport Officer Lieutenant Keith Hayden Moore of the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was killed in action, in France. He was a junior partner in the firm of Messrs. W.L. Moore & Son, chartered accountants of Southport and Preston.
He was twenty-four years of age, and the only son of Mr W. L. Moore. Formerly he was in charge of the Southport office, educated at Preston Grammar School and was editor of the School’s Old Boys’ magazine.
As a member of Preston Grasshoppers FC he was well known in Rugby football circles.
He joined the North Lancashire’s some time before the outbreak of war, and was in the bayonet charge at Festubert.
Reported September 1915;
Captain John Laurence Whitfield of the 4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (T.F.) of North Holme, Chorley and a solicitor from Preston died from wounds received in action. Formerly Secretary and Captain of Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club.
Reported September 1916;
Mr O A Ducksbury, MRCVS Lancaster, yesterday morning received postcards from his son Lieutenant O H Ducksbury, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, previously reported missing, believed killed, on August 8, that he is a prisoner of war in Germany, and wounded in the right shoulder. He states that the wound is healing splendidly and he’s receiving every attention.
Lieutenant Ducksbury played half back for Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club.
Reported February 1916;
Lieutenant Harold H Smith son of Mr B S Smith of Haseldene, Wilpshire, Blackburn is reported in a message received at Preston to have been killed in action.
He enlisted as a Private in the Hussars shortly after the war broke out, and received a commission in the Royal Field Artillery. At the time of his death he was attached to the Royal Engineers. Two of his brothers are in the Army and he in turn played with the Preston Grasshoppers Football team.
Reported August 1917;
Captain Arthur Lea Harris (31), Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on July 31st. Capt. Harris was the only son of the Rev. S F Harris, for many years the vicar of Walton-le-Dale. He was admitted a solicitor in December 1909 and became a partner in the firm of Houghton, Myers & Reverley Preston in 1911.
Captain Harris was for some time the secretary to the Preston Grasshoppers FC.
Captain R Ord, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, nephew of Alderman W E Ord, Chairman of the Preston North End Football Club, is officially reported to be in hospital abroad with serious gunshot wounds. Captain Ord is 29 years of age and married.
Before the war he was connected with the firm of Satterthwaite & Co. leather merchants of Friargate, Preston with which his uncle was associated.
He was well known in Preston and District sporting circles, formerly playing football with the Preston Grasshoppers Rugby club.
Reported November 1916;
The death is reported of Lieutenant Herbert Samuel Penny Blair, of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He was wounded in action and conveyed to Malta, where he succumbed to his injuries. Keenly interested in sport, he was a well-known member of Preston Grasshoppers’ Rugby FC and the Preston Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.
Reported August 1916;
Major Harold Parker, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, the eldest son of Mr J Parker, Lancashire County Coroner, is reported as injured in the head, but progressing favourably.
Major Parker, who was a Lancashire County Rugby Union player, and the secretary of Preston Grasshoppers F C., acted as Deputy Coroner for Mid Lancashire. He has three brothers serving at the front.
Associated Article from June 1919;
Major Harold Parker, a recipient of the DSO, is the eldest son of Mr John Parker, Coroner for the Mid Lancashire District.
He was captain of the Preston Grasshoppers fifteen and played several times for the county. He mobilised as Junior Captain in the Preston Territoriale.
Reported August 1918;
Captain G H Watts, adjutant of the First Motor Brigade, Machine Cup Corps, a former Preston Grasshopper and of the firm D Penny & Son Ltd., Chapel St. Preston, has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in the field. The official account of the deed which won for Capt. Watt the honour of the Military Cross is as follows:-
“Finding a gap in the line to be which he had been sent, he placed his guns in temporary position and went forward about a mile, when he observed the enemy advancing in large numbers. On attempting to get back he found he was surrounded, but by sheer dash he fought his way back to his guns and held on to his position until he only had six men left. He did not withdraw until the enemy was within 50 yards and his last round had been fired. This enabled three batteries of field artillery to be safely got away”.
Captain Watts had subsequently to be sent to the base suffering from acute rheumatism and fever.
Three of those featured in the previous articles and photographs appear together in the team picture from the 1912/13 season which was used as a preview to this piece.
A newspaper article during the war reported that many local solicitors, barristers, cotton brokers and salesmen have joined up, and almost the entire Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club joined up in a body.
Another piece of the time reported that the following members of Preston Grasshoppers RFC this week joined up in the ranks of ‘D’ Squadron, the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry: E.G. Halliwell, F. Waddington, E. S. Bailey, D Robinson, B. Hide, W. L. H. Bolton, J. D. Ashworth, R. D. S. Cotman.
I am very pleased to have been given the chance to write this tribute, in no small way due to these fellow ‘Hoppers together with many thousands of men and women who both gave up their lives or returned with terrible life time physical and mental injuries.