• The Ultimate Sacrifice

It is just over 100 years since the Great War broke out and over the coming weeks much coverage will be given nationally to the life changing happenings from all those years ago, especially from the Battle of the Somme. Everyone in Britain was affected, with sacrifices being made on all fronts. All the footballers on the books at Deepdale in 1914/1915 would have served their country in one capacity or another but it is known that only a few made the ultimate sacrifice out of the many millions that died for the cause. Many were wounded and a few were awarded well-earned medals.

John FORD and John BARBOUR were playing for Preston North End at the time of World War One starting. Acting Lance Corporal Barbour, a Scotsman, of the 9th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, was killed in the Battle of the Somme on July 15th 1916. Private John Ford, another Scot, of the Scottish Rifles, was also killed in France, on May 3rd 1917. Tom SAUL, a North End reserve team player was also killed. Private Benny GREEN, of the Kings Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) who had been transferred to Blackpool from Preston, was killed in action in France during April 1917. Billy GERRISH, who North End had recently transferred to Chesterfield, also died in France during August 1916. He was in the 17th Footballers Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. France was also the country where former Welsh international goalkeeper, Fred GRIFFITHS, was killed in action in 1917. Fred had played for PNE, Blackpool and Tottenham. Private William KIRBY of the 6th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment died during October 1917 at Ypres, Belgium. The Preston-born forward had two spells at Deepdale before the war. Frank SHANLEY, serving with the Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action, in France, on the 4th July 1917.

Corporal Herbert DANSON (1903-1912) after two hard years in the trenches, was wounded in his back. Local-born goalie, Billy HAYES (1914-15) was wounded in France during August 1917 and was hospitalised at Cheadle Hospital. Another goalkeeper, Charlie JONES, who played for North End before and after the war, served over two years in France as a Gunner/Motor Mechanic and a further two years in India as a despatch rider. Yet another goalkeeper, Fred WHALLEY, who went to school in Preston, served with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and after the Battle of Loos was sent home with 'trench feet'. Fred signed for Preston North End after the war. Former Old Invincible, Sandy ROBERTSON, was wounded in July 1916 and was hospitalised at the Military Hospital in Tooting.

Tom BROOME, serving with the Royal Regiment of Artillery, was discharged from the Army as being 'physically unfit', as was Simpson BAINBRIDGE, serving with the Durham Light Infantry. Ironically, North End signed him after the war was over! Leading goalscorer, Fred OSBOURN, was wounded in November 1918 after serving three years in France with the Royal Field Artillery.

Peter QUINN, who played for Blackpool and Preston, won the Military Medal and bar for his gallantry. Stan DAVIES, who played for North End after the war, served for over three years in France with the 4th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, being decorated on a few occasions. Goalkeeper Arthur CAUSER, did not serve overseas as he had received a severe dose of gas poisoning. PNE & England winger, Sergeant Dickie BOND, was in Prisoner of War camps in both Germany and Holland. Percy HARTLEY (PNE 1906-07) was at one of those camps with Bond.

Gunner NCO, George FOOT, a goalkeeper, served in Italy with the 7th Division. Arthur MOUNTENEY served in the Footballers Battalion. Our 1914 full-back Anthony ALSTEAD, who played at Deepdale before and after the war, was a Battery Quarter Master Sergeant with the Royal Field Artillery. Yet another former goalkeeper, Sergeant Percy TOONE, (1911-1012), served with the Royal Garrison Artillery Unit. Finally, Dr. MILLS-ROBERTS, Preston North End's goalkeeper in their 1889 FA cup winning team, was Second in Command of the 6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the outbreak of war, having served in the Boer War too. Then in 1915 in his medical capacity he was Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 131st Field Ambulance.

All who served deserve our thanks and for those not mentioned, of which there will be many, I apologise.

  • Ian Rigby PNE Historian