Commemorating 100 years since the start of the Great WarToday (Monday 4th August 2014) marks 100 years since the beginning of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Over 15 million military personnel and civilians perished and a further 22 million were wounded worldwide.
Football was a part of the history of the Great War. The 17th Service Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, which became more commonly known as the Football Battalion, lost an estimated 500 of its 600 men in service during the war. Around 2,000 professional footballers in Great Britain joined the military services throughout the conflict.
Exeter City, like all clubs, was affected by the First World War. The players were involved in the Grecians’ 1914 tour of South America were sailing back home when war was declared, and most of the touring party were enlisted and fought for their country. None of the tourists died during the war, though William Smith was wounded and lost a leg and a number were wounded.
A total of 11 players that were current or former Exeter City players were killed during the Great War while serving for armed forces. These were Private Fred Bailey, Acting Bombadier Spencer Thomas Bassett, Corporal Joseph Bulcock, Carpenter Edwin Clark, Sergeant Arthur Evans, Sergeant Thomas Hunt, Private William Kirby, Lieutenant Evelyn Linott, Private John Webb, Sergeant George White and 2nd Lieutenant Percival Worner.
During the next four years, the Premier League, Football League and British Council will be commemorating the sacrifices made by footballers during the Great War, under the title ‘Football Remembers’.