Lest we forget, the fallen Imps of World War I

Lest we forget, the fallen Imps of World War I.

Arthur Hulme

Arthur Hulme, often erroneously referred to as Joseph, started his career at City in 1897. City were a Division Two side and Hulme had a keen eye for goal. He scored 12 times in 29 games. He missed just one match as City finished 14th from 16. He scored as we beat Luton 4-2 at Sincil Bank, only to score again 12 days later as they hammered us 9-3 at Kenilworth Road. He scored a brace as we beat Burton Swifts 3-0 and grabbed his final goal in a fine 2-1 win against third placed Manchester City.

Despite playing regularly, Hulme was released at the end of the season to join Gravesend along with Imps goalkeeper William Wilkinson. Their time at Gravesend was not a success, it is reported that the club’s committee was keen to dispense with the services of “the men with drinking reputations, who proved such failures last season”. There is no indication at all that Hulme was a drinker.

He ended up at Brighton where he became something of a star, making 159 appearances over the course of seven seasons. He contributed to them reaching the last 32 of the 1905/06 FA Cup and helped them rise to the First Division. In recognition of his five years’ service to the club, he became the first Brighton player to be awarded a benefit match, a Western League fixture against Southampton.

Upon leaving Brighton he returned to his native Leek where he was trainer of local team Leek United. Corporal G/4581 Hulme enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment. He was serving as a corporal in the 7th Battalion at the time of his death in action in October 1916 at Gueudecourt, in the Somme department of France

Thomas Asnip

Thomas Asnip made just one appearance for City, in 1904/05 he played away at Manchester United as we lost 2-0. He was a local lad, recruited from the Lincoln League after representing St Catherines and later Adelaide Park.

He was a Lance Seargent in the North Staffordshire regiment and was also killed in action at Flanders. He died on 24th July 1918.

James Comrie

James ‘Jimmy’ Comrie made just 12 appearances for City, scoring once. He began his career at Third Lanark, appearing in a Scottish Cup final in consecutive seasons. He later moved to Reading and garnered a reputation for turning up late or even missing training. He was obviously a talented player though, given the number of appearances he made for the Royals. After a spell at Glossop, a ‘substantial’ sum was splashed out by Bradford City for his services. He left Valley Parade for City in November 1910.

The move wasn’t a success. The 1910/11 side struggled against relegation, a fight they ultimately lost. Comrie scored once, earning us our final win of a dismal season, 1-0 away at Birmingham City. He made only 12 appearances for the Imps in total, a part-time player who worked as an attendant at Bracebridge Asylum. He was placed on the transfer list for £100 at the end of the season, a sum that got reduced to £20 on appeal.

After leaving City he worked as Assistant Manager at Boston Swifts, before joining the army. Private 4064 Comrie enlisted in the 1/7th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, a territorial unit that had crossed the English Channel to France on 20 April 1915 aboard SS Invicta.

On 3 August 1916, the battalion moved to relieve the 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers on the front line. On 4th August, the enemy opened fire on their positions with trench mortars. Fire was exchanged throughout the next two days, until the Northumberlands were relieved by the Royal Irish Rifles. The battalion war diary reported one killed and three wounded during their two-day stint in the front line.

Comrie is listed has having died on 9th August 1916, although that may not be entirely accurate. It is possible he was one of the three reported wounded who died as a result of those wounds, or he may have been the soldier reported killed during the two days in the trenches. Sadly, we will probably never know as he has no known grave.

George Kennedy

George Kennedy appeared for Lincoln 42 times over two seasons having arrived from Maxwelltown Volunteers of the Dumfries area. Turn of the century Lincoln City erred towards players from north of the border, perhaps due to the influence of manager David Calderhead. He played 25 times in 1906/07 as City finished second from bottom of Division Two, although he did feature in the FA Cup 1st Round win against Chelsea. The following season injury ruled him out of the early season exchanges, by the time he returned City were already doomed. The Imps finished bottom and were relegated to the Midland League, Kennedy left with Calderhead for top-flight Chelsea.

He only went on to make 12 appearances for the London club, including a couple in the FA Cup. In 1910, he left Stamford Bridge and signed for Southern League side Brentford, where he would spend the following three seasons. He returned to Scotland in 1913 and spent time back home in Dumfries before emigrated to Canada in June 1914.

George Kennedy is second from the right on the middle row.

Private 418239 Kennedy enlisted in the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highland Regiment) of the Canadian Infantry in March 1915. He was sent to France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force where he won both the Military Medal (MM) and Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for gallantry. He rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major but was seriously wounded during the Third Battle of Ypres. He died from his injuries just over 100 years ago on 16 November 1917 and is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, located 12km west of Ypres.

Peter Machin

Peter Machin, often referred to as ‘Mackin’ in the contemporary press, was another of David Calderhead’s recruits. He joined from Wallsend Park Villa is May 1905 and played one season in the same team as George Kennedy.

He opened his account with City on the opening day of the 1905/06 season with a goal against Burslem Port Vale as we ran out 3-1 winners. After a slow start, he found real form at the turn of the year, scoring a brace as we thrashed Burnley 5-0 and again a fortnight later as Burton United we despatched 5-1. His penchant for grabbing goal in big wins continued with a hat trick as Bradford City were beaten 5-0 at the Bank. In our penultimate home game of the season he scored twice as Manchester United beat us 3-2. We finished the season in 13th place, Bristol City, Man Utd and Chelsea making up the top 3. He scored 16 times from 33 outings.

Injury restricted him to just five goals from 21 outings the following season, two against Clapham Orient in March 1907 seeing us win 3-0. They were his final goals for City as we finished second from bottom. Machin returned to his native north-east and joined Sunderland.

Private 201049 Machin of Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action in Flanders on April 9th, 1917. He is buried in the Roclincourt Military Cemetry in Northern France.

William Morris

William Morris does not often appear on lists of fallen heroes who represented City as he featured only in the Midland League campaign of 1908/09. It was a season glossed over in paragraphs in Brian Halford’s book and Morris represents nothing more than a footnote in the Nannestad’s A-Z as a player that didn’t play a league game for us.

What Morris did manage was an FA Cup tie at Liverpool, a game we lost 5-1 on January 16th 1909. Morris scored our only goal of the game, one of 13 he bagged in 18 outings. His other matches were less than illustrious, a brace beating Denaby United 3-2, as well as goals against Bradford City reserves and Sheffield United reserves. We also contested the United Counties League Northern Division where, on April 9th 1909, he scored twice to beat Coventry City 4-0 at Sincil Bank.

Description of Morris’ contribution at Liverpool

In the summer of 1909, Morris moved to Liverpool, probably on the strength of his goal against them. His career never took off though and he eventually returned to Arnold in Notts to marry Maud, where they lived at 140 Front Street.

On September 21st 1918, Ordinary Seaman Morris was killed in action aboard the S.S Polesley. The Polesley was torpedoed and sunk by UB 88, 1 mile North of Pendeen, Cornwall. It was torpedoed without warning and sunk with 43 lives lost. She was en route from Cardiff to France with a cargo of coal.

Thomas Strong

Thomas Phillips Strong, also known as Tommy, was mostly a reserve at Sincil Bank. He spent three years with the club, appearing twice in 1913/14 and seven times the following season. He was a left-sided full-back who played away at Arsenal in a 1-1 draw but never appeared on a winning league side. His last outing was April 3rd 1915 against Grimsby Town, a game we lost 5-1.

Private 31770 Strong joined the South Staffordshire Regiment 1st Battalion, but died on 15th July 1917 of injuries sustained at Flanders. He is buried at Croisilles Railway Cemetery.

May we always remember them and their sacrifice, always.