Honouring Town players who laid down their lives
A CALL to reinstate a missing memorial plaque honouring Swindon Town players who died during World War One has been backed by the football club.
The project, spearheaded by club historian Dick Mattick, follows an appeal to restore the former club secretary Sam Allen’s grave at Radnor Street Cemetery and some of the leftover funds from that endeavour will be diverted towards it.
The original, thought to hold five names of players who perished in foreign fields during the 1914-1918 conflict, was thought to have been lost when the new Arkell’s stand was built in the 1970s to replace the pre-existing one.
Among the names on the memorial, which was mounted above the tunnel, was Freddy Wheatcroft, a second lieutenant in the 13th East Surrey Regiment who died of wounds in France on 29 November 1917 aged 35.
His teammate Albert Milton, a bombardier of the Royal Field Artillery who was killed in action in Belgium aged 31 on 11 October 1917, was also named but research is still at an early stage to find the other men honoured.
“It’s tragic really,” Dick said.
“The plaque was on the wall above the tunnel in the early 1970s and when it was demolished we don’t know whether it was put in a box somewhere or went to scrap. We would much prefer the original back.
“We are now carrying out research into the names that might have been on the original, which we think had five names on it. We don’t know if it was an exclusive list, it could be there were more.
“We don’t know how much it is going to cost yet – it is still early days. For the appeal for Sam Allen’s grave restoration we had a collection at the club game and managed to make £260, which with the £100 cheque from Sam’s grandson meant we had more than enough.
“We would be looking to raise probably a maximum of £500 to £600 for a replica, which may be exactly like the original, and we would hope to have it in place by August for the centenary.”
Mark Isaacs, stadium manager at Swindon Town FC, said the club were behind the move to reinstate the commemorative plaque.
He said: “The club is fully supportive of bringing these types of initiatives to the fore and Dick is leading it so we are supporting it as much as possible.
“I can’t comment on why the plaque may have gone astray, it’s unfortunate it’s not around.
“Potentially it could go above the tunnel where it used to be – we need to look at all these things and certainly we will look at anything like this to do with the club’s history and put it in its rightful place.”
To donate or help with research contact Dick on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any First World War stories, contact the newsdesk on 01793 501793.
For more details on the Swindon in the Great War campaign visit www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/swindon_great_war/.
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