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Remembered Today:

Middlesex Regt Football Bns


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Just been to the National Football Museum at Preston. There was mention of the 17 and 23 Bns Middlesex Regt (1st and 2nd Football) and the impression was given that they were composed of almost all professional footballers. (They must have had one helluva Bn team). Does anyone know roughly what proportion of the Bns were pro footballers?

There is a display devoted to 2/Lt W.D.J.Tull, mixed race pro footballer with Tottenham H and Northampton T, served with 17Bn, commissioned and attd 23Bn, KIA 25/3/18. He was killed by machine gun fire leading his men at Favreuil on the Western Front. I believe he was mentioned in a previous thread. Photo below.

Phil B


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Guest Northumberland

I beleive that impression was correct and yes Walter Tull has several mentions on the GWF.

The football battalions appear to have been recruited mainly in London but not exclusively.

17th (Service) (1st Football) Bn. Formed in London by the Rt. Hon. W Joynson Hicks MP. on 12 Dec 1914.

23rd (Service) (2nd Football) Bn. . Formed in London by the Rt. Hon. W Joynson Hicks MP. on 29 Jun 1915

William Joynson-Hicks was Conservative MP for the Brentford, later Twickenham, divisions of Middlesex from 1911 to 1929.

See: http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/GREAT...1-07/0995225254

"At the end of the 1914/1915 football season around forty players and

officials of Clapton Orient football club joined the Footballers'

Battalion of the 17th Middlesex Regiment. This was the highest number

recruited from a single football club."

Other clubs with links to these battalions:

Aston Villa

William 9 Billy) Webber Walter Gerrish

Playing for Villa: April 1909 - Aug. 1912 . Previous clubs: Bristol Rovers

Gerrish was killed in action, aged 32, while serving with the Footballers' Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, in France. He died in the attack on Guillemont at the battle of the Somme in France in 1916. He died after losing both his legs.

Tom Barber

Playing for Villa: 24 Dec. 1912 - March 1919


Vivian Woodward and B G Whittingham joined the Footballers' Batallion (the 17. Middlesex regiment

Manchester United

'Sandy' Turnbull, who had scored the winning goal in the 1909 FA Cup Final

Cardiff City

Fred Keenor, Cardiff . He served in the 17th Middlesex Battalion (the Footballers' Battalion) and was injured at the Somme in 1916. went on to lift the FA Cup with Cardiff, the only non-English team to do so

A photo of the 23rd Service battalion of (2nd Football) Middlesex Regiment

can be found at the V&A Archive: http://lafayette.150m.com/osm5948.html

and from the Brighton & Hove Albion archives:


No competitive football had been played in Sussex during the conflict and several Albion players had been killed fighting for their country.

It was therefore particularly poignant when Albion staged a match at the Goldstone against the 'Footballers' Battalion', with the proceeds going to Battalion funds.

Known in full as the 17th Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge's Own Middlesex Regiment, it was made up entirely of professional footballers.

The Battalion trained at White City in London and players were released at weekends to turn out for their clubs.

Second in command of the unit and later promoted to major was former Albion half-back Frank Buckley.

The match attracted a 2,000 crowd. They were treated to a stirring ceremonial entrance into the ground by 700 soldiers, accompanied by a drum-and-fife band.

During the half time interval, MP Mr Joynston-Hicks and the regiment's commanding officer, Colonel Graham, took the opportunity to give recruitment lectures.

Players from most clubs probably served in the forces,; the players from Hearts of Midlothian in Edinburgh’s contributions are well documented, my own team, Newcastle United were represented by Tommy Goodwill who was killed in action in July 1916 serving with the 16th Northumberland Fusiliers and young reserves, George rivers, tom cairns, Richard McGough, Dan Dunglison, Tom Hughes were not to return.

Two former Newcastle players lost their lives. John Fleming, later at Tottenham, rose to rank of major in the EastYorks regiment and was killed in 1917. Tom Rowlandson fell in 1916. Frank Hudspeth served in the Royal Navy before going on to captain the 1924 FA Cup Final winning team and Wilf Low served in the Royal Engineers.

Colin Veitch, rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant during the war. Veitch won the championshipwith Newcastle in 1905, 1907 and 1909, the FA Cup in 1910 and appeared in the final in 1905, 1906, 1908 and 1911.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am researching this area with a fine tooth comb at the moment so anyone

with information, please let me know.

I can confirm that some clubs such as Orient did play a big part in recruiting

and others sadly did not.

That was a serious Becks trench mortar against the Taffys today !!!!

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