In MemoriamMartin Chandler |
Author: Gibbons, Roger
Publisher: GCCC Heritage Trust
Rating: 3 stars
This week and next we are reviewing four booklets that have just been published by the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club Heritage Trust. Three are brand new and In Memoriam a reprint of a title previously issued in 2015.
Cricket’s losses in the Great War were immense and, as we know from Andrew Renshaw’s definitive book on the subject, Wisden on the Great War, there were more than 1,800 obituary notices in the ‘Cricketer’s Bible’ over that period. There are eighteen men featured in In Memoriam, the common thread that links them being that they lost their lives in that conflict, and that they played at least one First Class match for Gloucestershire. All eighteen feature also in Renshaw’s book so, for those who took our advice and invested in Renshaw’s book is this too required reading?
The answer to that question is linked to a further question, that being the extent of the reader’s interest in Gloucestershire cricket. Most of the men featured here had fleeting cricket careers and there is not a great deal in Renshaw’s book about them. Gibbons has dug a little deeper both into the cricket the men played for their county, and also the circumstances of their deaths. In Memoriam therefore serves to supplement the accounts already given rather than simply repeat them.
Of the men featured only Francis Roberts, an amateur all-rounder, had a great deal of success on the field although Jack Nason, who had played for Sussex as well as Gloucestershire, had one interesting season in 1913. Nason played for almost the whole summer with little real success save for one match against Nottinghamshire when his only century in First Class cricket, which he carried on to 139, was very much the match winning effort.
The eighteen short biographies concluded Gibbons rounds off the booklet with two more stories of individuals. Archibald Fargas was one of those who enjoy the dubious distinction of living to read their own obituary, in his case in the 1915 Wisden. The Royal Navy chaplain was not in fact on the boat that sank and which was said to have been his final resting place. The 1916 edition had to admit the mistake, and Fargas lived for the best part of another half century. The story is a curious one but, in the chaos of war, perhaps not totally surprising.
Also noted is the death of Brigadier General Wilfred Ellershaw who lost his life when a ship on which he was a passenger for what is best described as a diplomatic mission was sunk when it struck a German mine in 1916. Ending such a booklet with a man of such distinguished rank seems fitting. Overall In Memoriam is a fine read and, given its modest price tag, well worth buying.
Anyone interested in buying this and any of the other booklets can contact the author via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is, including UK postage and packing, a very reasonable£5 or, for multiple purchases, £12 for any three or £15 for all four booklets. An additional incentive to would be purchasers is that, naturally, all proceeds go to help the Gloucestershire museum, a very worthy cause indeed. An alternative route to purchase for those in the southern hemisphere is via Roger Page.