As the nation prepares to remember and respect those who tragically gave the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, we ask Brentford fans to spare a special minute’s thought before the game at Millwall today for those players who had represented Brentford Football Club before, or during the conflict.

We will never forget any of those who died between 1914-18, whilst fighting for their country, but on match-day today, ahead of Rememberance Day on Sunday, perhaps we could thank our players accordingly? Thanks to Paul Biers for help with compiling this information.

 

Company Sergeant Major George William Kennedy DCM, MM, MID
Regiment: 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders) Quebec Regiment, Canadian Infantry.
Regiment No. 418239
Born: 12.03.1882 Died: 16.11.1917
He died of wounds to the face, received in one of the many Battles of Passchendaele, Belgium.
He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
Grave Ref.: XXII – DD – 12A

George was born in Dumfries and started his football career at amateur level with Maxwell Town Volunteers – one of the forerunners of Queen of the South. In 1906 he joined Lincoln City, staying for two seasons. Chelsea called for his signaturein the summer of 1908 and he played in 12 Football Leaguegames for the Blues, in 1908-09. The following season, 1909-10, George didn’t make a single Chelsea first team appearance. So, in the summer of 1910, Brentford FC’s manager Fred Halliday secured the services of the Scottishleft half from Chelsea. He went on to play in the Southern League for three seasons, 1910-1913, appearing 73 times and scoring 2 goals, as well as making an additional 5 appearances in the FA Cup. The 1911 census shows that he lived at 33 Adelaide Road, Brentford, as a ‘boarder’, and surprisingly, his trade given as a “plasterer”. George returned to Scotland after he was released from Brentford and signed up to play for Dumfries FC for the 1913-14 season.

On the 23rd May 1914, George immigrated to Canada,onboard the ship SS Grampian, leaving Glasgow and arrived in Montreal, Canada, on 1st June 1914. He went alone, unmarried, with the passenger list giving his trade as a “plasterer”. With war being declared so soon after leaving,and with Canada still being a British Colony, George Kennedy went to a Montreal enlistment station and signed up to join the 42nd Battalion Royal Highlanders Quebec Regiment in March 1915.

The 42nd Battalion diaries have been digitised and thanks to this, we can read about the times when he was decorated and when he was promoted to a Company Sergeant Major of “D” Company (25th February 1916). The London Gazette also hasnote of when he was awarded the Military Medal, in October 1917 and the Distinguished Conduct Medal, in February 1917, for “Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.”

On the 16th November 1917, George Kennedy received wounds to the face and was sent to No.9 Canadian Field Ambulance where sadly, he died of his wounds. A soldier of great standing and Brentford FC’s most decorated known to date.

 

Private Henry George Purver
24th Battalion (2nd Sportsmen’s) Royal Fusiliers.
Died 31/7/1916 Delville Wood, Somme, France.
No known grave. Recorded on the Thiepval Memorial
(Pier and Face 8 C 9 A and 16 A)
Played for Brentford FC 1911-12 (2 apps)

Sergeant George Littler
1st & 2nd Battalion Kings Royal Rifles.
Died (aged 27) 11/5/1915 Battle of Aubers, Neuve Chapelle, France
Bethune Town Cemetery, plot no. III grave no.C.27
Played for Brentford FC 1913-14
(Southern Alliance Reserve League)

Sergeant Patrick Hagan
11th Battalion Royal Scots.
Died 14/7/1916 Beaumont Hamel, Somme, France.
No known grave. Recorded on the Thiepval Memorial
(Pier and Face 6D & 7D)
Played for Brentford FC 1906-1908 (49 apps)

Private Horace Osborne Robotham
23rd Battalion Duke of Cambridgeshire’s Own (Middlesex Reg.)
Died 12/9/1916. Somme, France
No known grave. Recorded on the Thiepval Memorial
(Pier and Face 12D & 13B)
Played for Brentford FC 1905-06 (18 apps)

Sergeant Henry Cook
12th Battalion Alexandra Princess of Wales’ Own (Yorkshire Reg.)
Died 9.1.1917. Somme, France.
Buried Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte. Plot II. L.6.
Whilst stationed in London, he played as a ‘Guest’ for Brentford FC 1915-16 (10 apps)
Played for Middlesbrough FC.

Private James Greechan
12th (Service) Battalion Highland Light Infantry
Died 25.8.1917 (aged 33/34) Langemarck, Belgium.
Buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Grave No. XVIII.A.9.
Played for Brentford FC 1906-07 (12 appearances. 2 goals.)

Sapper ‘Fred’ – John Fredericks – Alborough
2nd Signal Company Royal Engineers
Died 31.10.1918 (aged 26) – Spanish Influenza?
Buried Brookwood Military Cemetery – Surrey Plot:XIII. A. 4B.
His is a tragic story. He played in 3 matches for Brentford, in the 1918-19 season, on 28/9/18, 19/10/18, 26/10/18. He then died just 5 days after playing his last match. So tragic. I assume of ‘Spanish flu’ that was rife in the country then.

Bombadier William George Allwright
Born in Brentford, one of three brothers to play for the B’s.
Royal Field Artillery
Joined 9/4/1902. Discharged 16/9/1916. Died 12/4/1918 (aged 37)

Private William Kirby – was known as ‘Sunny Jim’.
Died 3.10.1917 (aged 35) Ypres, Belgium
Kirby played 18 games for Brentford in 1916-17 and scored two goals. He served in the Royal Engineers but was invalided out of the army and went to work at Woolwich Arsenal – he didn’t like the conditions and so re-enlisted with his old regiment in 1917. Was killed in France later that year, leaving a wife and five children below the age of 11. Had played for Preston North End, Swindon Town, West Ham United and Portsmouth ñ where he received a benefit of £220 in October 1910 after scoring 100 goals including 5 hat tricks and 14 pairs.

 

Dave Lane