Remembering the Fallen
By Mark Stevens
Ahead of Saturday's Premiership Rugby Cup clash between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins, a special service of Remembrance will be held on the pitch to commemorate those servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in battle.
The Chiefs match-day squad, along with Chief Executive and Chairman Tony Rowe OBE and Director of Rugby Rob Baxter, will each carry a wreath onto the pitch in memory of the 25 former Exeter Rugby Club players killed in battle during World Wars I and II.
Below, thanks to the help of historian Roy Hough, we have an insight into all 25 players, whose names are permanently remembered with two plaques in the County Suite at Sandy Park.
THE FIRST WORLD WAR FALLEN
Captain George Howard Bickley
Machine Gun Corps
Died 4 October 1917 Age 25
Killed in action while leading his company in Flanders
George Bickley was the youngest of four brothers who lived at Lyme Regis. A window in the church of St. Michael the Archangel there is dedicated to his memory.
George Bickley was educated at St. Edward’s School, Oxford, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied for the medical profession. Whilst at Cambridge he made occasional appearances for the University XV. He was also a member of the Harlequins club. Having made his debut for Exeter at the end of December 1911, he was, two weeks later, selected by both Exeter and Harlequins. He chose to play for Exeter with whom he was an automatic choice, when on vacation, for the next three seasons.. During his time with Exeter he made at least 26 appearances including the last six games played by the club at the end of the 1913-4 season. In that last season he also appeared four times for Devon in County Championship matches. He played either as a speedy wing or an elusive centre.
Serjeant Harry John Carrington
Died 19 July 1918 Age 26
Died in in a Station Hospital in India from bomb wounds received from a misfiring shell.
Harry Carrington played for St. Luke’s College and assisted Exeter. During the 1913-1914 season, having moved to London, he made an appearance for the Shepherds Bush soccer team in the Isthmian League before playing rugby for the Wasps club.
Rifleman James Henry Cook
King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died 3 July 1915 Age 28
Killed by bomb blast in the trenches in France.
Jimmy Cook was raised in Buller Road. He made his debut for Exeter in October 1905 and quickly became a regular wing three quarter until the end of the 1906-7 season. In all he made over fifty appearances in two seasons scoring at least 27 tries. Being small in stature, his fleet footed exploits made him a favourite with club supporters. Then, in September 1907, he decided to join Devonport Albion where he created an immediate impression, scoring tries in both his opening matches. However, before the month was out, he had signed for the Northern Union club Salford as a professional and had made his first appearance for his new club against Leeds. Jimmy Cook again became a favourite with home supporters scoring 98 tries in 161 appearances.
Private Geoffery Herbert Culverwell
1st/4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment attached Dorset Regiment
Died 10 June 1916 Age 21
Missing believed drowned during the siege of Kut, Mesopotamia. His death was not officially confirmed until 1917.
On arrival in Exeter he joined the Territorials and was mobilised in August 1914. Because of his training he served as a dispenser at a hospital in India. As a keen soldier he volunteered for service in Mesopotamia at a time when his name had been put forward for a commission.
A member of a well-known Minehead family, Geoffery Culverwell played rugby for Taunton before moving to Exeter to take up an apprenticeship with Mr. H.C. Milton, a chemist with premises in High Street. His first appearance for the Exeter senior team came in March 1912 after which he became an automatic selection as a forward for the following two seasons. An injury in a game against St. Luke’s College in March 1914 meant that he could not complete the season. He also represented Somerset in the County Championship.
Captain William John Edmonds
1st/6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Died 19 May 1919 Age 43
Served with the Devonshire Regiment in India and Mesopotamia before being invalided home. He was later sent to Italy on special duties for the War Office. On his return he served in Liverpool as an Embarkation Officer. His health had been seriously undermined and he died after a long illness at his home in Ilfracombe.
William “Beefer” Edmonds had been a long term resident of Exeter and was described as “a true sportsman to his fingertips”. He served on the committee of the Exeter club and his services as a referee were much sought after.
Lieutenant William Setten Goff M.C.
Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Died 22 April 1918 Age 36
Killed in action in France
Bill Goff was born in Exeter into a family involved in the catering industry. His mother ran the Cathedral Restaurant for many years. After attending Heles School he joined the firm of Whitton & Laing, auctioneers and estate agents of Gandy Street.
Initially Goff joined the Exeter Oaks club but from the 1901-2 season he appeared regularly for Exeter as a centre or full back before persistent knee problems prompted a switch to playing amongst the forwards. He is likely to have played well over one hundred games for the club. He was elected captain for the 1906-7 season. His occupation was then to take him to South Wales where he firstly played for Swansea in 1909 and later Cardiff for whom he made 34 senior appearances.
Whilst resident in Wales, Billy Goff played occasional games for Exeter when visiting his family in the city during holiday periods. If he could not find a place in the Exeter team he played for the Exmouth club. During the 1913-4 season he made five appearances for Devon. His final game for Exeter came on Boxing Day 1913 against Clifton.
Lieutenant Sidney Eames Hucklebridge
West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own)
Died 7 March 1919 Age 28
Died of influenza and complications in Belgium
A former student at Exeter School, Sidney Hucklebridge played regularly as a forward for Exeter Reserves during the 1912-3 season.
Serjeant Emrys Jones
1st Devonshire Regiment attached Dorset Regiment
Died 22 November 1915 Age 23
Killed in action while leading his unit in an attack on enemy trenches in Mesopotamia
Emrys Jones was born at Gorseinon, South Wales, and came to study in Exeter at the Royal Albert Memorial College, the forerunner of the University College of the South-West. On completion of his studies he took up an appointment as an assistant master at St. Sidwell’s school.
Making his debut for Exeter in October 1912, Emrys Jones was a regular selection though his availability was limited due to his commitment to his college team. He was a member of the Exeter side that fulfilled the club’s final fixture before the outbreak of war. He was selected for all four of Devon’s Country Championship matches in the 1913-4 season.
Captain Maurice Harry Donne Parsons
Royal Horse Artillery
Died 18 July 1916 Age 35
Killed in action in France
A memorial window was installed in the chancel of St. Leonard’s church at Misterton to commemorate the lives of four members of the Parsons family who died during the war.
After attending Sherborne School, where he played for the first fifteen for three seasons, Maurice Parsons joined his father’s business, Messrs. Dymond & Parsons, Land Surveyors, of Exeter. He was an enthusiastic Volunteer rising to the rank of Major with the 1st Rifle Volunteers in the city and at one time was Acting Adjutant of the Battalion.
Maurice Parsons made his debut for Exeter in September 1898 appearing regularly as a centre three-quarter for some seven seasons and playing over 100 games. He was elected club captain for season 1900-1 at the age of twenty.
Second Lieutenant Charles Edward Tudor-Jones
East Lancashire Regiment attached 3 Squadron Royal Flying Corps
Died 15 December 1915 Age 19
When flying over northern France the aircraft in which he was acting as an observation officer was shot down in aerial combat, killing both Tudor-Jones and the pilot.
He and the pilot were buried at Raismes. The German Flying Corps sent wreaths which were placed on the graves.
Charles Tudor-Jones came from his family home in Swindon to take up a position as an articled clerk with Mr. W.H. Michelmore, an Exeter solicitor.
He played as a stand-off half for Exeter Reserves throughout the 1913-4 season.
Major John Leonard Veitch M.C.
7th Battalion attached 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Died 21 May 1918 Age 31
Killed in action by machine gun fire in northern France
Enlisted in August 1914 and saw front line service in France, being wounded at Vimy Ridge, and then Italy before returning to France.
A member of the well-known firm of nurserymen and landscape gardeners in Exeter, he was educated at Exeter School and spent time studying horticulture in Germany and Holland.
A keen cricketer and hockey player, Leonard Veitch first played rugby for the Exeter senior team on Boxing Day 1912. He then appeared regularly as a wing-three-quarter or as a half-back until January 1914 when he broke his leg whilst playing scrum-half against Bridgwater Albion.
Lance Corporal Albert Henry Webber
2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Died 1 September 1918 Age 30
Died in Macedonia
Albert Webber played for the Reserves during the 1907-8 season but broke a bone in his shoulder during a practice game before the next season began. He returned to play again and made a number of appearances for the senior fifteen during 1911-2 season.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR FALLEN
Lieutenant William George Cann
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Died 14 December 1944 Age 34
Died from typhus at Imphal, India
Bill Cann joined Exeter at the start of the 1928-9 season making an immediate impression as a free scoring wing-three quarter. He became an automatic selection for five seasons. He played his last match at the start of 1934-5 season. In March 1929 he scored four tries in a match against Tiverton and during the 1930-1 season he scored at least 27 tries including hat-tricks on four occasions.
Lieutenant Edwin Harry Coombe
1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Died 20 November 1944 Age 26
Died in Burma
Lieut. E.H. Coombe Memorial Window, St Thomas of Canterbury Church at Thorverton
Edwin Harry Coombe was a native of Thorverton. He made his debut for Exeter in December 1938. He proved to be a highly promising forward in the second half of the last season before the outbreak of war. He made his last appearance for the club in January 1940.
Captain Peter Alexander Davis
Devonshire Regiment attached 2nd (Airborne) Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment
Died 9 July 1943 Age 26
Killed in action, Italy
Educated at Hele’s School and Oxford University, Peter Davis made his debut in January 1938 and appeared several times as a scrum-half for the First XV when on vacation during the last two seasons before war.
Lieutenant Gavin Heriot Galbraith
275 Field Company Royal Engineers
Died 11 August 1944 Age 21
Killed in action in Normandy
Played for Brighton College 1st XV between 1940 and1942. No further details known.
Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Capel Gostling
Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada
Died 19 August 1942 Age 39
Killed in action at Dieppe
After attending Heles School, Alfred Gostling Joined Exeter from the Exeter Oaks club and played for the Reserves XV between seasons 1920-1 and 1923-4. He immigrated to Canada and became a Canadian citizen.
Major Frederick James Job
Devonshire Regiment attached Gloucestershire Regiment
Died 6 February 1944 Age 34
Killed in action in Italy
Fred Job made his debut for Exeter in November 1934 and soon became an automatic selection as a wing three-quarter. He proved to be a very popular captain of Exeter for the last season before war broke out. During that season he registered at least 22 tries including a hat-trick against Saracens in the last peace-time fixture. He also represented Devon in the 1936-7 season.
Major Peter Henry Lawless M.C.
Daily Telegraph War Correspondent attached United States First Army
Died 9 March 1945 Age 54
Died from shrapnel wounds received at the Remagen bridgehead
Although born in London, Peter Lawless came from an Exeter family. His grand-father had played for Exeter during the club’s early years. He first appeared in Exeter colours in October 1911 and played a handful of games the following season. It is recorded that he led the team on Exeter’s first venture to play in France in 1912.
At the end of the First World War, during which he was awarded the Military Cross, Peter Lawless was selected to play for the Mother Country team that faced forces teams representing New Zealand, South Africa and Canada in a rugby tournament in 1919.
He was elected captain of the Richmond club for two seasons 1922-3 and 1923-4. Standing six feet one inch tall and weighing seventeen stone he was literally an outstanding forward of his generation.He also represented Middlesex, Surrey, Devon, the Army and the Barbarians.
He also wrote a book entitled “Rugger’s An Attacking Game” which was published posthumously in 1946.
Flight Sergeant William Milford McGrath
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 217 Squadron
Died 09 October 1942 Age 22
Killed when SS Lacpnia was sunk by U-156 in the Mediterranean.
Attended Heles School. No further details known.
Captain Charles Marten Osman
Died 24 July 1940 Age 28
Burned and badly injured by shell-fire on the beach at Dunkirk.
Died of his injuries in Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup.
Educated at Hele’s School, where he was captain of the 1st XI cricket and 1st XV rugby, and Oxford University, Charles Osman joined the staff at Oundle School.
Charles Osman made his debut for Exeter during September 1934 playing as a centre three-quarter. He made half a dozen or so appearances for the club when on vacation from university.
Major George Tristram Palmer
12th (Airborne) Battalion Devonshire Regiment
Died 16 July 1944 Age 29
Killed in action at Normandy
A native of East Budleigh, George Palmer first appeared in Exeter colours during the 1931-2 season.From 1933-4 until the outbreak of war he was a regular selection as a second-row forward.
Warrant Officer Class II Albert John Raddon
153 Battery Royal Artillery
Died 28 February 1943 Age 25
Buried Medjez el Bab, Tunisia
Attended Heles School. No further details known.
Major Henry Rew
7th Royal Tank Regiment R.A.C.
Died 11 November 1940 Age 34
Killed at Nibeiwa Fort, North Africa
Henry Rew’s family resided in Woodwater Lane, Exeter. He attended Exeter School and made his debut for the Exeter club in January 1934 whilst still at school. He became an automatic choice as a front row forward. In his early days he was also noted for his long range goal kicking. He played regularly until 1928-9 when he joined the Royal Tank Regiment. He continued to make occasional vacation appearances for Exeter until January 1934.
He was a regular selection for Devon and, as one of the leading front row forwards of his day, he was capped by England on ten occasions between 1929 and 1934. He also appeared in the representative Army XV, the Barbarians and for Blackheath.
Henry Rew was selected to play for the 1930 British Isles party that toured New Zealand and Australia. He played in all four tests against New Zealand but was injured for the second leg of the tour in Australia.
This name appears on the original club memorial but no further details have been discovered.