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.
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|
|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|
|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|