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We will remember them : Swansea Sunday Supplement
Sunday, 8th Nov 2020 09:32 by Keith Haynes

It’s the official day today of remembrance, and memories will certainly be recalled of the many millions who have sacrificed their own lives so we all today can enjoy ours. At 11am you have the opportunity to pay your respects in silence to the fallen who never came home.

We are going to have a look this remembrance morning at some links to our club and the wider city.

Swansea Pals ‘The 14th’
They were known simply as “The Swansea Pals”. Hundreds have given their lives in service of their country. Officially, they were men from Swansea and surrounding towns including Neath and Port Talbot who made up the 14th (Service Battalion), The Welsh Regiment, part of the Welsh 38th Division during World War I. And the 1,200-strong “Swansea Pals” battalion found itself in one of the deadliest battles of the war, Mametz Wood, in which almost 100 of them were killed and 300 more injured. By the end of the war in 1918, more than 600 of the Swansea Pals had given their lives for their king and country. The whole of the 38th Welsh division had lost about 4,000 men, killed or wounded in the costly engagement at Mametz Wood, and its men would not be used in a massed attack again until July 31, 1917.

Swansea Pals parade at Rhyl, North Wales

Across the country men volunteered to join battalions of neighbours, work colleagues and even football supporters. Many of these Pals Battalions, as they became known, saw their first action at the Somme. Some battalions suffered terrible casualties and this had a big impact on their local communities where whole streets might be stripped of their young men. On 7th July the Welsh attack started. The German machine guns caused many casualties and the thick wood was difficult to fight in. Against the odds, the Welshmen cleared most of the German positions in the wood and by the time the 38th Division was replaced by reinforcements Mametz Wood was almost secure. About 600 officers and soldiers had been killed.

Spencer Bassett was born in 1885 in Blackheath, Kent, and made his name playing for nearby Maidstone United. His early promise was such that he signed for Arsenal in 1909, but, having scored one goal for the Gunners, he soon moved on to Exeter City where served as a reliable centre-back for three seasons. Spencer joined Swansea Town for the 1913-14 season, making his debut in a Southern League Fixture against Caerphilly. In all he made 32 league and cup appearances for the Swans, scoring two goals in an 8-0 victory over Treharris in February 1914. By now a skilful and clever right-half, he initially re-signed for the 1914-15 season but in the upheaval and uncertainty caused by the beginning of the war he eventually joined Southend United. Whilst with Southend Spencer enlisted at Woolwich to serve with the Royal Garrison Artillery, and by 1917 he was Acting Bombardier with the 140th Siege Battery. He was wounded in the early stages of the Battle of Arras, and later died of those wounds, aged 32, on 11 April 1917. He is buried in the Pozieres British Cemetery, Oviller-La Boisselle.

Spencer Bassett

Joe Bulcock was the son of a Burnley cotton weaver. He played reserve team football for Burnley and Aston Villa, before going on to appear for Bury and Exeter City. He then spent five seasons with Crystal Palace, where he developed a reputation as one of the best backs in the Southern League. He was part of a representative team the FA sent to tour South Africa in 1910. joined Swansea Town late in the 1913-1914 season and went on to captain the Swans on number of occasions, including in their famous 1915 FA Cup victory over Football League Champions Blackburn Rovers. That match’s programme contained a pen portrait of him, describing him as a favourite on and off and the pitch. Unusually for a footballer of the time, the accompanying photograph showed him wearing a bow tie and boater hat. After professional football ended in the summer of 1915, he lived in Llanelli and worked as a plumber’s mate. He joined the Welch Regiment as a private in December 1915 and was sent to France in September 1917. He died on 20 April 1918 of head wounds received at the Fourth Battle of Ypres in Flanders. He was 38. He is buried at Haringhe (Bandaghem) military cemetery in Belgium.

Joe Bulcock

Edward Mitchell
Ted Mitchell was a native of Middlesbrough who joined the Swans from Reading in 1913 as a forward, but who soon found his niche in the Town side as a sturdy and tenacious left-back. To the newspapers of the time he was ‘a popular hero’ whose versatility was appreciated. When he was moved to play on the right wing for a FA Cup tie against QPR, the report declared that his ‘dash’ was ‘extremely useful’. Ted was a reservist, and so was called up immediately on the onset of hostilities: a great crowd of Swansea supporters turned up to cheer him when he left by train on 5 August 1914. He was at the front by 9 September, serving with the Royal Field Artillery but at the end of the month he was in a French hospital with a bullet wound. He returned to action and was promoted to sergeant. Ted returned to Wales briefly in the summer of 1915, to marry his sweetheart Dolly Jones of Llandeilo on 22 July. The newspaper report notes that he ‘went to the altar in mud-besmeared khaki’: four days later he was due back at the front. He was killed in action on 6 January 1916 and he was widely mourned by Swansea’s fans as ‘one of the most popular of all the Swansea Town players’. He is buried at Bethune town cemetery.

The 14th, Swansea Pals

Thank you to you all who in service thought of others before themselves, travelled hand in hand to serve, and defend democracy, who gave their lives - so we today can enjoy ours.
Swansea Independent, 2020.

Thanks to Swans at War, 100 years, swans100.com.

Manuel Charles

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

theloneranger added 11:06 - Nov 8
"11 Swansea Town Players Served In WW1" ...

Spencer Bassett Killed

Joe Bulcock. Killed

Edward Mitchell. Killed

Fred Buck

Fred Burch

Arthur Cleverley

Joe Coleman

Jimmy Collins

Ernie Fisher

Alex Houston

Fred Mortimer ...

"3 Former Players Also Served "...

Stan Cubberley

Jock Hamilton

Fred Harris.

"Once A Soldier, Always A Soldier"



NotLoyal added 11:17 - Nov 8
Excellent article, cheers as well LR.

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