This Saturday, 5th November, will see Hednesford Town Football Club once again paying their respects to those who have fought and continue to serve in the armed forces.
Our home fixture against Grantham Town at Keys Park will see the Hednesford Branch of the Staffordshire Regimental Association joining us in order to hold a moment of silence in the build up to Armistice Day.
We shall also be remembering what was happening 100 years ago as the final stages of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War was starting to draw to a close.
The Battle of the Somme, somewhat unforgettably famed for the 19,000 British Army servicemen who were killed on the first day of fighting on 1st July 1916, would officially end on 18th November 1916 – with more than one million British Empire, French and German servicemen having been killed, wounded or captured during the 141 days of the conflict.
Two former Hednesford players were sadly among those statistics. Private Isaiah Jones, a well-known footballer in the region having played for Cannock and Hednesford, joined the Royal Welsh Fusillers after enlisting during WW1. He was killed in action on the 25th July 1916, aged 30, and like 72,000 others has no known grave with him being listed on the CWGC Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Lance-Corporal Albert Millington is another former Hednesford footballer who lost his life during the Somme offensive aged just 23. Millington, of the 8th Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, died of wounds on the 16th September 1916 and is buried in CWGC Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe.
This November the Football Association (FA) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), through their Living Memory Project, are working to remember all those buried right here in the UK who became a casualty of the Somme.
This is something the Pitmen have been able to do ahead of our Remembrance fixture on Saturday afternoon.
Among the 38 military burials in Cannock Cemetery are two casualties of the Somme who died of their wounds after returning from France. This week saw Hednesford goalkeeper Lloyd Ransome paying his respects at the headstone of Samuel Alfred Smith who was just 22 when he died of his wounds, after spending only a matter of days on the front line in September 1916.
Between now and November 18th the FA and CWGC are asking you to pay your own respects to those who fought at the Somme, with there being a casualty within three miles of your front door. If you do so then you can notify the FA and CWGC through tweeting them @FA and @CWGC and by including the hashtag #LivingMemory and #Footballremembers.
Lest We Forget.