West Ham Pals and players - we will remember them 100 years on
PUBLISHED: 11:30 09 November 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Six Hammers players perished in the war to end all wars
This Sunday the whole country will pause for two minutes to remember those who fell in the Great War.
This year’s Memorial is a particularly poignant one as it is exactly 100 years since the end of World War One.
West Ham United paid tribute during last Saturday’s game against Burnley, but the story of Hammers players during the war to end all wars is an emotional one.
When war broke out in 1914, the 13th battalion of the Essex Regiment was founded, predominantly made up of East Londoners.
In fact, some of the recruitment was done at the Boleyn Ground where the rallying cry of ‘Join the Hammers and hammer a hun’ attracted people from Barking, Bow, Stepney and Silvertown to enlist.
The battalion arrived in France in December 1915 and during their time there fought in the bloody battles on the Somme, at Ypres, Cambrai and Vimy Ridge.
The battalion became known as the West Ham Pals and has been etched in the history of the club for much of the past 100 years.
For the West Ham players who enlisted like goalkeeper Joe Webster. They were assured by Lord Kitchener himself that they would be able to complete their football commitments until the end of the season before going overseas.
For some, like Jack Tresaden of the Royal Garrison Artillery, he came through the war and lived to play again for the Hammers, making the team for West Ham’s FA Cup Final appearance at Wembley in 1923.
Harry Bradshaw was awarded the Military Medal whi;e serving as a brigade runner in France. He survived and played for the Hammers between 1919 and 1921.
Others suffered. Both George Hilsden and Fred Harriosn suffered the affects of mustard gas poisoning.
Six West Ham players did not return from the conflict.
Striker Arthur Stallard fell on the front line in France on November 30, 1917.
William Johnson of the Royal Welsh Fusillers died in Macedonia on May 6, 1918. He was the first Hammer to play international football when he turned out for Wales in 1902.
Bill Kennedy, whose football career was ended prematurely through injury, died while with the London Scottish Regiment on October 13, 1915. Although his body was never found, his name appears on the war memorial in Loos.
Frank Costello, who played for West Ham in 1908-09 died early in the war.
And Frank Cannon a sergeant major with the Essex regiment and a centre forward for the Hammers between 1908-10 died at Ypres in February 1916.
Goalkeeper and Welsh international Fred Griffiths – a sergeant in the 15th battalion Sherwood Foresters, was killed in action on the Western Front.
In 2009, Sir Trevor Brooking unveiled a plaque at Upton Park to honour the ‘West Ham Pals’.
On Saturday at Huddersfield, when the minute’s silence takes place and then on Sunday at 11am, we will remember the West Ham Pals and the West Ham players who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We will remember them.
Many thanks to Tony Hogg and his book ‘A Castle on Green Street’ for information that made this article possible.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Newham Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.