Royal British Legion commemorating sporting lives that were lost100 years ago today, the Battle of the Somme – one of the bloodiest battles in history – finally came to an end.
And the Royal British Legion has launched ‘Sport Remembers the Somme’ to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, telling the stories of the sportspeople who sacrificed their lives for their country including various footballers, rugby players, cricketers, Olympians, boxers and golfers.
The 100 stories include moving, powerful accounts of players who lost their lives at the Somme including Reading FC's Allen Foster, a swashbuckling striker who is still remembered for a giant-killing goal against Aston Villa and a hat-trick against AC Milan.
A favourite of the fans for his larger-than-life personality and “caustic tongue”, Foster was killed in the brutal fighting at Guillemont on the Somme. Other stories include George ‘Joe’ Bailey, who survive the Somme and ended the war as Captain and as one of the most respected and decorated men of the 1st Football Battalion.
The Battle of the Somme, which ran from 1st July to 18th November 1916, was one of the most difficult and costly battles of the First World War. It has come to represent the waste, the futility, and the tragedy of the war itself, and it was really felt at community level – particularly amongst sports clubs, teams and individuals.
To aid the war effort, virtually all professional sport was suspended during the Battle of the Somme with footballers, athletes and sportspeople at all levels volunteering to enlist – sometimes en masse including football teams and their supporters. When these battalions suffered losses, as they did mostly at the Somme, the impact was felt greatly within these clubs and communities.
The Royal British Legion is now calling on the public to join in the commemoration of the service and sacrifice made by the nation’s sportspeople during the Battle of the Somme by holding their own events at community level. To order a Sport Remembers toolkit, including a commemorative pennant and 1916 sports edition newspaper, go to The Royal British Legion’s website here: britishlegion.org.uk/sportremembers
We will also be hosting our Remembrance Service this weekend at our fixture against Burton Albion.
The Supporters’ Trust at Reading (STAR) will be hosting a service at 1.45pm at the Remembrance Wall (near Gate 1), where Chairman Sir John Madejski and representatives from STAR and our Former Players’ Association will lay wreathes.
The Reading Scottish Pipe Band will also perform at that service, around the stadium, and within the ground ahead of kick-off, and we will observe the Last Post and a minute’s silence before the game. We are very pleased to welcome Second World War veteran Charlie Miller, a recent recipient of the Légion d'Honneur, to Madejski Stadium to lay a wreath pitchside ahead of the game.
A number of complimentary tickets have been provided to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and the Royal British Legion will be holding a collection around the ground.
All 24 Sky Bet Championship teams will be wearing Poppy shirts and the matches will be played with a limited edition Poppy ball, which will be auctioned at a later date to raise funds for the Royal British Legion. To date, Sky Bet and EFL clubs have together raised nearly £250,000 for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal from auctioning match-worn poppy shirts.