Doing their Duty: How England's rugby footballers helped win the First World War (Paperback)
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When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th 1914 one sport above all others distinguished itself by the immediacy of its response. Such was the example set by rugby union footballers that the war office produced a poster advising other sportsmen to follow the 'glorious example' of rugby union footballers by enlisting with the armed forces. When the Rugby Football Union convened a month later they discussed the idea of forming a Rugby Football Corps but concluded that it was too late since all of their members were already inside barracks. This is the story of what happened next. It is a story of astonishing bravery and sacrifice and details how international rugby footballers were involved in almost every British theatre of war between 1914 and 1918. It details all those who fell but also many others who did return and what they did next. This book, based on new research, tells the story of the Great War through the eyes of England's international rugby players. The personal accounts, diaries and letters of 46 players, including 27 who did not return, are used to piece together a cohesive narrative of all of the war's major battles and turning points from enlistment to Armistice. Included are: - Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Mobbs who was initially refused enlistment on account of his age but returned at the head of a self-raised 'sportsman's company' of 264 men - Lieutenant Engineer Sydney Coopper a former flying winger and future RFU secretary who survived his ship being sunk at the Battle of Jutland - Captain Cyril Lowe, England's record try scorer for more than sixty years who, after being shot down as an observation pilot, retrained as a fighter pilot and finished the war as a recognised flying ace - Lieutenant Commander Arthur Harrison who served aboard HMS Lion as a Gunnery Officer in every major naval engagement of the war before earning a posthumous VC for leading an assault on enemy machine guns during the Zeebrugge Raid - Flight Lieutenant William Wavell Wakefield who signed up to the Royal Naval Air School while still at school and became one of the first people to survive landing a bi-plane on an aircraft carrier before later becoming one of England's most successful captains Phil McGowan is the Curator at the World Rugby Museum. The foreword is supplied by Lewis Moody MBE, former England captain and world-cup winner. A second foreword is supplied by Stephen Cooper, author of the award-winning 'The Final Whistle: The Great War in Fifteen Players'.