During the First World War scores of footballers, including many from Preston North End, signed up for the armed forces. Chris George looks at the stars who served their country
The National Football Museum and the Woodland Trust are raising money in remembrance of football players who lost their lives on the battlefield during the First World War, and their team mates who returned home.
The project aims to recognise players club-by-club and a target of £15,000 has been set up in memory of Preston North End’s footballers who sacrificed playing the game they loved to take up arms during the great war.
Here, Chris Page looks at some of the Preston North End players who saw action during the First World War.
Born in Glasgow, John Barbour started his career in Scotland with Queen’s Park before joining Dundee. He later moved south of the border to Preston North End for the 1914-15 season, making 12 appearances in his first season at the club. The following season he made just one appearance ahead of the war before he was enlisted in the 9th (Glasgow Highland) Batallion. On July 15, 1916, Barbour was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme and was buried in Thiepval Memorial, France.
Arthur Beadsworth was born in Leicester and went on to play for Leicester Fosse, Newton Heath, Swindon Town and Preston North End. Serving the 7th (Service) Batallion, Beadsworth rose to the rank of sergeant and was died after he was gassed in Flanders Field on October 9, 1917. He was buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France.
Dickie Bond was born in Preston on December 14, 1883, and flourished as a young footballer, going on to play seven seasons at his hometown club. The majority of his career was spent at Bradford before and after the war, including winning the FA Cup in 1911. During the war, Bond was captured by Germans after an attack on his batallion which killed more than 60 men. He would go on to spend another two years as a prisoner of war, before his promotion to company sergeant major on his arrival to Britain. After spending another three seasons with Bradford City post war, Bond’s remaining years in the game featured him playing for Blackburn Rovers and amateur sides Lancaster Town and Garstang. Bond ran a fish and chip shop in Garstang during his retirement. In 1955, he died in Preston aged 77.
Private James Chalmers’ former clubs include Norwich City, Notts County, Preston North End , Sunderland, Swindon Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Watford. Chalmers joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers as part of the 1/4th Battalion, but died in Gallipoli on July 12, 1915.
William Cox played for Preston North End along with Bury, Dundee, Hearts of Midlothian, Leicester Fosse and Plymouth Argyle during his playing career. After suffering serious wounds in Gallipoli, Private Cox was evacuated to Birmingham Hospital and later died on November 6, 1915.
Preston North End was John Ford’s one and only club during his short footballing career, making 58 appearances and scoring on four occasions. After joining up with the Scottish Rifles, Private Ford was killed in the early stages of the First World War whilst in action on the 3rd May 1917, in France. The Scotsman was described by the Lancashire Daily Post at the time as having the potential of: ‘becoming one of the best men in the kingdom in his position’, he died at the age of 23.
William Gerrish had recently left Preston North End for Chesterfield before the war, but he was soon part of the 17th Football Batallion in the Duke of Cambridge’s Own Regiment. He was killed in action on 8th August 1916, and was laid to rest at Thiepval Memorial.
Horace Barnes enjoyed an illustrious football career either side of the Great War. Starting his career at Derby County, Barnes featured 153 times in the league before relegation to the Second Division in 1914. He made the move to Manchester City, aged 23, for a record £2,500. Barnes scored 14 times in 29 appearances at Hyde Road, helping City to fifth place in the First Division before competitions were suspended due to the war. During the war, Barnes was employed in munitions work and served in the Royal Garrison Artilley. While working in the munitions factory, he was fined by the Manchester Magistrates’ Court after missing his shift and alternatively chose to play in a football match against Southport Central. By the time Barnes returned to action for City, he was 28 and went on to play another six seasons for the First Division side, totalling 120 goals in 217 league games. He left midway through the 1924-25 season to join North End, and despite scoring eight goals, he was unable to save them from relegation. An impressive eight goals in thirteen Second Division games paved way for Barnes to move to league rivals, Oldham Athletic, part way through the season and just one year after he had transferred to North End. Barnes retired a year later with one international cap to his name. He died in Clayton at the age of 70.
Born in Barnsley, Benajmin Green began his career playing for Barnsley before moving to Birmingham, Burnley, Small Heath and Preston North End. Green had transferred from Preston to Blackpool before the First World War began, but had been playing for Preston since the 1911-12 season. He was reported as wounded and missing in June 1917, however, Private Green was later confirmed to have died in France and is now buried at Arras Memorial.
Griffiths featured on the international stage for Wales, and his club career included playing for Preston North End, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. The goalkeeper who was part of the Notts and Derby (Sherwood Forresters) Regiment and was killed in action in late 1917.
Another Preston-born goalscorer, William Kirby, spent a few years of his career out on loan while still a registered North End player. As a goalscorer at Swindon Town, West Ham United and Portsmouth, he returned to Preston in 1911 and made an immediate impact, finishing the 1911-12 season as the Second Division’s top goal scorer. During the war, he was recruited for the East Yorkshire Regiment after his role in the Royal Engineers. Kirby was killed in battle on October 3, 1917, in France and laid to rest at Bard Cottage Cemetery, in Belgium.
Alfred Lorimer appeared for North End and Burnley before joining the 2nd
East Lancashire Field Ambulance RAMC. He died in Egypt on the February 1,
1915, and he is buried at Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery.
Born on December 17, 1890, William Luke played as a winger for Preston on nine occasions before the First World War. He made his debut against Stockport County in a 1-1 draw on September 2, 1912, and went on to win promotion as the Second Division Champions, netting two goals along the way. In 1915, he volunteered to serve in the Royal Field Artillery and later earned the Military Medal in 1917. After being shot in his right leg, the wound prevented him from extending his football career. Luke was discharged from the army on August 1, 1918, and the National War Fund was set up to provide aid for players who were disabled by the war and to families of the soldiers who were killed. Luke died in 1992 at the age of 102, and at the time he was the oldest former professional footballer in the country.
Arthur Mounteney served as part of the 17th Football Batallion following a football career with Birmingham, Leicester Fosse and Preston as an inside forward. Alongside his football career, Mounteney played for Leicestershire Cricket Club as a right-handed batsman. He died in his home city of Leicester at the age of 50.
For £20 the Woodland Trust will plant a tree to commemorate a former North End player, and the role Preston played during the war.
‘For Club and Country’ want you to share any stories about your club or players from the time of the
First World War. Please contact www.woodlandtrust.ritdns.co.uk