Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Remembering The Fallen

11 November 2018

Sunday 11th November 2018 - Armistice Day - marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

In remembrance of those Millwall players who gave their all in both the First and Second World Wars, millwallfc.co.uk recalls some of those heroes who gave their today for our tomorrow.

John 'Ginger' Williams

John, or Jack as he was commonly known, was born in Buckley, North Wales - the same place as future Lion Johnny Lyons - in 1885, and was Millwall's most prominent loss in the Great War.

He began his senior career with Atherton Church Street, Lancashire, in around 1906, before signing for Accrington in October the following year. Jack's stay there lasted less than a year when a move to Birmingham beckoned before a transfer back to Stanley, as they became known, occured in February 1909.

However, his return to Lancashire lasted a mere four months before Crystal Palace secured his signature in June. Jack's form at Palace over the next couple of seasons brought him to the attention of the Welsh selectors. He was rewarded with two appearances in 1912, against Scotland where he replaced Ted Vizard of Bolton, and was Billy Meredith's deputy for the match with Ireland. Observers described 'Ginger' as plucky, fearless and clever, while another concluded that he was full of fire and his shooting was generally on target.

It was Ginger's excellent performances against The Lions that probably persuaded the club to sign him for their biggest-ever fee at the time. He enlisted in the Footballer's Battalion in November 1915, only to be killed in action the following June.

Joe Dines

Probably the most illustrious of Lions casulties at the front, Joe was an amateur for the whole of his career and assisted the club throughout the First World War when available.

Joe found fame as a member of Great Britain's Olympic winning side of 1912 and, on top of this accolade, he also won 24 amateur caps for England from 1910-1914 inclusive. His one Football League appearance came for Liverpool against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in September 1912.

A teacher by profession, Joe originally came from Kings Lynn and, when his job brought him to London, he became a member of Ilford FC.

Joe was commissioned as 2nd Lt in the King's (Liverpool) Regiment and was killed on 27th September 1918, less than two weeks after playing his last game for The Lions.

----------------------

Some other men with Millwall connections lost at the front were David Glen, whose sole Southern League game came in a 1-0 home defeat to Croydon Common in September 1909. Davie, a sergeant in the Royal Scots, was killed in action at Arras, nine days after his 36th birthday in 1917.

George Porter, from Bow, served as a Lance Corporal with Somerset Light Infantry. Like Dines, Porter remained an amateur player. He made two Southern League appearances for Millwall, but it was in a reserve team game at Highbury that George suffered a broken leg. He had only come into the team because Jack Williams was indisposed and how ironic was it that both the selected player and then his replacement were to lose their lives in the ensuing war. George did, however, have the consolation of a return to England before drawing his last breath.

Fred Griffiths, a giant goalkeeper standing at 6'2" tall and weighing 15 stone, was another Welsh international who also gained two caps. His sheer physical presence must have worried the life out of any onrushing forward who was brave enough to challenge him, and in one season with Millwall made 34 appearances. Fred later became a coalminer in Derbyshire and, following the declaration of war, would enlist in the Sherwood Foresters. At the relatively senior age of 44, he was to lose his life 1917.

Another Lion added to the number killed in action was Charles Green, of whom nothing is known, other than that he was a Londoner and performed at right-back. He, along with Williams, Dines and Porter, are remembered on a memorial plaque, which is in the possession of Millwall to this day.

While we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, Millwall did have many combatants who returned the country safe and sound. One surviving casualty, however, was Johnny Borthwick; so traumatic were his wounds he was forced the hang up his boots as a result.

John, like Green, was a member of the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (1st Footballers), as were locally born outside-right Teddy Bassett, Joe Orme, who kept goal, winger Fred Whittaker, full-back Joe Kirkwood and half-back John Nuttall, most of whom got to play for the Battalion when they were not fighting.

A future player and manager of The Lions belonging to the same outfit was Jack Cock, who, at one stage, was reported as killed in action. Eventually he came through unscathed with a Military Medal to his name.

Another recipient of the same gong was Arthur 'Nippy' Wileman, who served as Sergeant with the Royal Sussex Regiment, but was to lose his life in the spring of 1918.

A post WWI team-mate of Jack was another free-scoring performer named Bob Parker, who served with the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Welsh international Wally Davis was another prolific goal-scorer who, while playing for Bedfordshire Regiment, sustained such a serious injury it forced his retirement from the game.

Two of Millwall's finest full-back pairings, Jack Fort and Dick Hill, served with gallantry in the 5th Dragoon Guards and the Grenadier Guards respectively. The two others to see service with Royal Artillery were goalkeeper Joe Lansdale and the highly-decorated Billy 'Banger' Voisey.

In World War Two, Millwall, like many other clubs, saw their players enlist or call up to serve their conuntry. But the loss of just two players, outside-right Freddie Fisher and Harry Salmon, who left Millwall in 1936, hardly lessened the blow. Fred was a pocket dynamo standing at 5'5" and was signed for £1,600 from Chesterfield. Before his tragic death as a tail-end, Charlie, with RAFVR, won an unofficial cap against Wales in 1941.

Harry, who came to The Den as an inside-forward from Stoke City in 1934, and whose excellent passing was matched by his prodigous heading, was switched to centre-half when regular Frank Hancock was injured. Both Fred and Harry were to die within four days of each other in July 1944, Harry at Caen whilst serving as sergeant with Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

We will remember them.


Advertisement block