ACA remembers fallen first-class cricketers

24 Apr 2018

Gilchrist Web

Adam Gilchrist at the Australian World War I Memorial and Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneux, France – June 6 2005

Cricket played its role as a source of respite and distraction for Australians during times of conflict since the turn of the 20th century.

On 17 December, 1915, Australian soldiers used cricket in a way it had never been used before.

Two days before the evacuation of Gallipoli Australian soldiers staged a cricket match at an area known to the diggers as Shell Green. The Australian soldiers dropped their weapons and joined the cricket match staged next to our nation's most iconic battlefield.

Remarkably, the cricket match was used as a tactic, to convince the Turkish that there was stability amid the camps beyond the trenches.

In 2001, an Australian Test team led by Steve Waugh visited the historic site, paying tribute to the diggers by staging a photo taken of that match.

Cricket 1917

Gallipoli Reenactment

Top image courtesy Australian War Memorial www.awm.gov.au

In total, there were 27 Australian first class players lost in the two world wars, while Australian representative John Ferris died in the Boer War in 1900.

The first World War claimed the lives of fifteen first class cricketers from Australia, including Australian fast bowler Albert 'Tibby' Cotter.

Cotter, who was known for breaking stumps, was arguably one of the best fast bowlers of his time. Cotter made his mark on the game early in the 20th century with 89 Test wickets at 28.64 and 442 First-Class wickets at 24.27.

Other casualties included Alan Marshall, who represented Queensland & Surrey in 119 First-Class appearances, and was killed in Malta in 1915 after serving in Gallipoli.

The second World War would see twelve first-class cricketers lose their lives, including Australian all-rounder Ross Gregory.

Gregory debuted for Victoria while still at high school, and would don the Baggy Green before the age of 21. He was a Pilot Officer and was killed in action in East bengal (now Bangladesh) at the age of 26.

Charlie Walker, who represented South Australia as a wicket-keeper in 109 First Class games, died in Germany while Victorian and Queensland batter Francis Sides would perish in Papua New Guinea.

A full list of Australian first class cricketers who were killed in action can be found here.

Name Main First Class Team Date of Death Where
2nd Boer War      
John Ferris New South Wales, Australia 17/11/1900 Durban, South Africa
WW1      
Charles Backman South Australia 25/04/1915 Gallipoli, Ottoman Empire
Alan Marshal Queensland, Surrey 23/07/1915 Imtarfa, Malta
Stanley McKenzie Tasmania 08/12/1915 Alexandria, Egypt
Frank Lugton Victoria 29/07/1916 near Villers-Bretonneux, France
Leo Butler Tasmania 23/08/1916 Puchevillers, France
William Eltham Tasmania 31/12/1916 near Lesboeuts, France
Laurence Gatenby Tasmania 14/01/1917 Armentières, France
George Poeppel Queensland 02/02/1917 German POW camp, Germany
Norman Callaway New South Wales 03/05/1917 Second Battle of Bullecourt, France
Hubert Selwyn-Smith Queensland 07/06/1917 Messines, France
Gother Clarke New South Wales 12/10/1917 Zonnebeke, Belgium
Tibby Cotter New South Wales, Australia 31/10/1917 near Beersheba, Palestine
Ossie Douglas Tasmania 24/04/1918 Dermancourt, near Albert, France
Ernest Parker Western Australia 02/05/1918 Caëstre, France
Charlie Adamson Queensland 17/09/1918 Salonica, Greece
WW2      
Barney Wood Western Australia 09/06/1941 Syria
Frank Thorn Victoria 11/02/1942 Gasmata, New Guinea
Gilbert Jose South Australia 27/03/1942 Changi POW Camp, Singapore
Ross Gregory Victoria, Australia 10/06/1942 near Gaffargaon, Bengal, India
Ross Moyle South Australia 24/10/1942 Cairo, Egypt
Charlie Walker South Australia 18/12/1942 Soltau, Germany
Stuart King Victoria 28/02/1943 at sea, Coral Sea, Pacific Ocean
Dudley Everett Western Australia 03/05/1943 Ontario, Canada
Kenneth Ridings South Australia 17/05/1943 over Bay of Biscay
Francis Sides Victoria 25/08/1943 Kunai Spur, Salamaua, New Guinea
Glen Baker Queensland 15/12/1943 Buna, New Guinea
Alan Pearsall Tasmania 08/03/1944 over English Channel