WWI commemoration – The Greater Game

The Greater Game – Sporting icons who fell in the Great War, is, as you can imagine, right up my street. Of course I knew the story of Ronnie Poulton-Palmer and Edgar Mobbs, although I didn’t realise he’d inspired so many men to join up that the company were known as “Mobb’s own”. I’ll be featuring some of my favourite lads from the book here.

Ronnie Poulton was a stunning player by all accounts, the sort of three-quarter who could slice through defences like a knife through butter. His last words are said to be, “I shall never play at Twickenham again” although that’s likely to be apocryphal as it seems he was shot and died instantaneously. I can, however, imagine a player saying just that sort of thing ironically.

Poulton seems to have inspired a great deal of affection from his friends. It’s hard not to see things through slash goggles, but extracts from letters such as this from Keith Rae to Poulton are very evocative:

“I believe very firmly that there will be a Bright beyond after this war…My Love to you and God bless you, always your affectionate friend, Keith Rae.”

Army Chaplain Dick Dugdale wrote home to say “You know I loved him {Poulton} more than anyone else,” and “Each passing year means one year less to wait for Ronald”.

Poulton died on 5th May 1915 and is buried at “Hyde Park corner”. Rae died on 30th July in the same year and is commemorated on the Menin Gate. Dugdale died on 24th October 1918. I like to think that he and Ronnie saw (and see!) each other again.

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