WA football devastated by 'war to end all wars'
THE 100th anniversary of the end of World War One (1914-18) will provoke poignant memories for one WA football club in particular. Caledonians, founded by the Fremantle Caledonian Society in 1913, was devastated by the "war to end all wars" when eight of its first team players were killed in the tragic events in Europe.
In all, 27 players and officials from Callies enlisted in the Australian forces which took part in the bitter four-year long conflict.
Eight of the players did not return. They were James 'Barney' Cowan, who died of a result of wounds received at the second battle of Paschendaele; William Chalmers, who was killed in action at Messines; Jamie Simpson, who died during the attack on Mouquet Farm, one of the bloodiest battles of the war; Charlie Monteath, who did not survive the battle of Villers-Bretonneux; Frank Lyon, who succumbed to pneumonia after many months of freezing trench warfare; Dave McKinnon, who was killed at Pozieres Heights; David 'Barney' Henry, who died during the siege at Mouquet Farm; Dickie Leonard, a sailor whose ship was torpedoed in the English Channel.
Football was regularly played by Allied troops at Gallipoli and also amongst Australian troops based at Lemnos in Greece in 1915. There was even an Anzac series between Aussie and New Zealand troops.
Top Callies players like Alex Marr, a goalkeeper who represented the State on many occasions, survived the hostilities and went on to become the father-figure of the club. The club's fairest and best award was named after him. He passed away in September 1984, aged 93.
Marr was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA's Hall of Champions in 1996, as was another legendary Calies player, William Waddell, who was only a boy at the start of the war and joined the club in the 1930s.
An excellent book about the club's early years, entitled "Soccer Anzacs", was produced by John Williamson in 1998.
As well as giving a detailed account of the Callies players and their war-time activities, Williamson relates that Callies wasn't the only WA club to suffer casualties during the Great War, with some 300 players and officials from clubs around the State enlisting.
**A TOTAL of 416,809 Australians enlisted in the Australian forces, of which 32,231 were from WA. Australia suffered its highest ever mortality rate, with 61,720 being killed and over 156,000 wounded.
**A FASCINATING new report by the BBC about the impact of football on the psyche of soldiers in World War One has been launched to coincide with the 100th anniversary.
"The Last Pass", by Owen Phillips and Andrew Aloia, basically follows the impact the conflict had on Sunderland player Jimmy Seed and his family, but the horrors of the "war to end all wars" comes starkly across.
"Football was to play a fascinating role during World War One, from England internationals helping to form special Footballers' Battalions to the emergence of the women's game, as well as the morale-boosting effect the sport had on the troops both deep behind the lines and all along the front," say Phillips and Aloia.
Jimmy Seed volunteered alongside fellow Sunderland players Tommy Thompson and Tom Wilson, joining the 63rd Northumbrian Division in the Cycling Corps. The month after Jimmy volunteered, in May 1915, the second Footballers' Battalion - the 23rd Middlesex - was formed.
Coaches, referees and fans would go on to serve alongside their heroes. Truly a one-for-all approach. By 1918, approximately 4,500 men would serve the 17th Middlesex, with around 900 never to return. A total of 1,500 men lost their lives across the two Footballers' Battalions.
"After arriving in France in the summer of 1916, Jimmy struggled, suffering with bad periods of depression, which were only relieved by playing football," explained his grandson James Dutton.
"He was captain of his battalion team and his good friend Tommy Wilson was captain of another battalion of the Leeds Rifles. These football games really helped him."
Jimmy Seed survived the war, but only just. He was twice gassed, and recovered sufficiently from the after-effects to return to his life as a professional footballer, joining Tottenham and going on to win five England caps.