Remembering Spencer Bassett
One hundred years ago today, April 11, a former City player was killed in France.
Acting Bombardier Spencer Bassett died of wounds he’d received when his billet was shelled. It was the start of the Arras battle.
One of Bassett’s former team-mates, Tom Griffiths, described the circumstances. Both men were serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery, and their batteries were near each other.
“It happened about one in the morning,” writes Griffiths. “A shell dropped into Spencer’s billet, and you may guess he was not the only one hit. A few of our lot were called out to give a helping hand, and when I got there, Spencer had been taken away.”
The letter continues: “His last words were: ‘Tell Griffo that I have been hit.’ Just to think I missed seeing my old pal by only a few minutes… He was loved by all the boys, and was one of the finest fellows that ever stepped in two shoes.” This is one comrade’s tribute to another.
Griffiths and Bassett had two seasons together for City: 1910/11 and 1911/12. A half back, Bassett had caught the eye of Exeter boss Arthur Chadwick, while on Arsenal’s books. Chadwick was a former England international and a half back himself.
Spencer, during his three seasons as a Grecian, made 81 appearances and scored three goals. He later played for two other Southern League clubs, Swansea Town and Southend United. He was, according to the Western Times, “a soccer player of no mean order”.
Spencer Bassett, we know, had a fondness for Exeter. He’d been in digs just a short walk from St James Park. At Edgerton Park Road, with the Worner family, he’d have understood the importance to the local community of the football club.
The Worners’ son, Percy, was a founding member, and a schoolmaster at St Sidwell’s School. Tragically, Percy was killed at the Front six months before Spencer.
They, along with nine other former Grecians who lost their lives in World War One, are remembered on a plaque at St James Park.