Monday, November 3, 2014

Footballers' Battalion of World War One

    The British Footballers' Battalion was founded in 1914. Reason? During the War, footballers were allowed to stay behind and play football in order to keep the public's spirits up. This did not sit well with the general public. So they founded he 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment as the footballers' battalion in order for footballers to volunteer. The battalion was commonly known as the Football Battalion.  

     Birmingham's  Frank Buckley was the first player to join.  He would earn the rank of major. Evelyn Lintott, Vivian Woodward, Joseph Bache, Walter Tull and Fred Keenor were some of the bigger names on the battalion.  The entire first team of Clapton Orient (later renamed Leyton Orient)also joined.  Three members of their squad, Richard McFadden, William Jonas and George Scott would not come back.  However, of the 600 members of the original battalion, only 122 of them were professional footballers.  Many footballers decided to join other battalions. Most of the soldiers were football fans who wanted to serve with their football heros.  It was reported Vivian Woodward and England's  Half-back  Evelyn Lintott were responsible for large numbers of Chelsea and Queens park Rangers fans on the battalion.  
       Over 500 of the original battalion would die in the War.   Lintott was killed in Somme.  Walter Tull was the second Black player ever played in the top division of the English League. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1916, despite the fact that Blacks were banned from being officers by the military regulations at the time. He became the first Black officer in the British Army's history.  Unfortunately, he was killed in 1918.  Vivian Woodward was wound in the battle.  Donald Bell, a defender with Bradford City, and Bernard Vann, of  Derby County became war heros.  They both won the Victoria Cross. 
Walter Tull

 

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