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In memoriam.

1 year ago By Stephen King

At this time of remembrance we recall those members of the club who died in the armed forces.

First World War.

Bernard Catling MC. Bernard was a player and later Treasurer of the club. He was 33 when the first world war broke out but despite this relatively advanced age for military service he enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company two days after the outbreak of war. Following training in England he sailed from Avonmouth aboard the SS Karoa on 10th April 1915 with A Battery of the HAC.

After service in Egypt he returned to England a year later for officer training and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery in July 1916 and promoted to full Lieutenant 18 months later whilst on service in Italy. Later he was to receive the Military Cross for earlier service in France as a battery commander in the acting rank of Captain. He returned to the French front in March 1918 but later received wounds from which he died on October 20th only weeks before the armistice. He now lies buried at Beaulencourt in the Pas de Calais.

Hiram John Hammond. Hiram was born in 1889 and lived the early part of his life in Amwell End at the Cherry Tree public house which his parents ran though a later move to Crib Street left him well placed for his work in Hitch's yard. He was a member of the side that won the Herts County League Eastern Division in 1912/3.

He joined the 1st Bn Hertfordshire Regiment and took part in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge on July 31st 1917 by which time he was a platoon sergeant. The Hertfordshires suffered badly in this engagement and Hiram's fate is difficult to determine. His family report that he was wounded and evacuated to a dressing station that was later hit by shell fire though another source suggests that he was killed on the battle field. Either way he has no known grave but his name is recorded on the town war memorial.

Walter Jack French. Jack scored nearly 40 goals for the club between 1906 and 1911 including two against Hitchin Blue Cross in the 1907 Herts Senior Cup Final. He was also a member of the Herts County League championship side of 1909. Jack enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment under whose title his name is recorded on the town war memorial but he was later transferred to the 12th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment and was killed in an attack by its 'C' Company on October 21st 1916. He is buried in the Connaught Cemetery at Thiepval on the Somme battlefield.

Second World War.

Eddie Gayler. Eddie was in 5th Bn Beds and Herts Regiment which was sent to help defend Singapore from Japanese attack. Overwhelmed by the enemy’s unexpected and well executed line of advance through Malaya the British garrison went into captivity.

Some of the captives were ultimately transported to Japan as forced labour but Eddie's convoy (with no markings to say it was carrying POWs) was attacked by over 100 American aircraft off the Philipines coast about 80 miles north of Corregidor.

About 200 of the POWs either swam to shore or were picked up by the Japanese and taken back to the Philippines. We don’t know what happened to Eddie Gayler, only that he didn’t survive. In the circumstances he has no known grave but is commemorated on the Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore which records the names of 24,000 service men whose resting place is unknown.

Gordon Whybrew. Club records around the time of the commencement of hostilities are perhaps inevitably patchy so it can only be said with certainty that Gordon played at least once for the first team, scoring in a 5-1 friendly win over Bishop's Stortford. He was soon in uniform and died as a result of enemy action on 17th September 1940 and is buried at Holy Trinity Church, Wareside.

Les Whiting (36 appearances and 9 goals), George Crane (41 appearances and 8 goals) and George Wallace (also 41 appearances and 8 goals). They all served in Italy with the 1st Bn Hertfordshire Regiment which, during the later stages of the war, participated in the heavy fighting in Italy as the allies advanced north. This was especially severe during the latter part of 1944 when the allied armies attempted to force the Gothic Line, a German defensive barrier stretching from Pisa in the west to Rimini in the east.

George Wallace was killed on 18th October, Les Whiting the next day and George Crane on 13th November. They are now buried in the Commonwealth Cemetery in Faenza.

A Todd. He joined the club in 1937 and made 59 appearances scoring 51 goals. In the 1938/9 promotion season he averaged nearly a goal a game and scored all Ware's goals in the 6-1 win over Sawbridgeworth. His name is recorded on the town war memorial but it has so far proved impossible to trace how, when or where he lost his life.

Where next?

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