In 1915, a letter from Colonel C. F. Grantham was read out at a special general meeting of the Football League, which was held at the Connaught Rooms, Queen Street, Holborn. Extracts from the letter appeared the following day in the ‘Daily Gazette’:

“As the officer commanding the Footballers’ Battalion, it is my duty to bring the following facts to your notice.

You are aware that some little time ago there was much controversy in the papers with regard to the manner in which the professional football player had failed in his duty by not coming forward to serve his country in its time of stress.

Mr Joynson-Hicks, M.P., therefore raised the Football Battalion, and public opinion died down under the belief that most, if not all, of the available professionals had joined the Battalion.

This is not the case, as only 122 professionals have joined. I understand that there are 40 League clubs and 20 in the Southern League, with an average of some 20 players fit to join the colours – namely, 1,800.

I am also aware and have proof that in many cases directors and managers of clubs have not only given no assistance in getting these men to join, but have done their best by their actions in preventing it.

If men who are fit and capable of doing so will not join, they and all those who try by their words and actions to prevent them, will have to face the opinion of their fellow-men publicly.”

‘Mr C. F. Sutcliffe said the management committee had considered the letter, and they dissented strongly from the various statements it contained.

A resolution was passed in which those present at the meeting pledged themselves to continue to do everything in their power to support and encourage recruiting.’

The following servicemen had at some point in their careers, played for Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club, and all tragically, lost their lives serving their country:

Albert Edward Bonass was born in Yorkshire and before joining the R’s in 1939 he had played for Chesterfield, Darlington, West Hartlepool and York City.

Albert became a reserve policeman before joining the RAF. Between 1940 and 1945, he guested for a number of clubs, which included; Fulham, Watford and Southampton before losing his life when his Stirling bomber crashed in Tockwith on 8th October 1945.

Corporal Albert ‘Ben’ Butler was the first professional footballer in the ranks of the 17th Middlesex to be killed in action. He left a widow and two young children.

Frank Cannon began his career with Hitchin Town whilst working for a firm of Solicitors. After making 29 appearances for the Rangers, Frank moved on to West Ham.

He later served with the Bedfordshire’s before transferring to the Essex Regiment, rising to the rank of Sgt. Major. Frank was killed by shrapnel at Ypres, on 15th February 1916.

Charlie Clarke played in six league games for the R’s between 1936 and 1938. He was a Luton Town player at the time of his death in March 1943.

Apart from winning more than 30 amateur caps for England, Joseph Dines also played in all three matches in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm for the Great Britain team, which earned him a gold medal.

He was one of three brothers to enlist but only survived hostilities for eleven days. Joseph was cut down on the Western Front by machine gun fire on 27th September 1918.

Albert Edwards made 17 1st team appearances for QPR and he also played for Aston Villa, Swindon Town, Bristol City and Newport County. He lost his life in the Great War.

Alan Fowler guested a few times for the R’s during 1940/41 and also later during 1943/44, but he was actually on Swindon Town’s books. Sgt. Fowler served in the Dorsetshire Regiment and lost his life in July 1944 following the D-Day landings.

Oscar Horace Stanley Linkson enrolled with the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He went missing on 8th August 1916 in the battle to take Guillemont Station.

His body was never found and his mother never accepted that her son was dead, choosing to believe that he had run away to escape what she believed to be an unhappy marriage.

Evelyn Henry Lintott: He scored on his debut for Woking and later attended the Teacher Training College in Exeter. After graduating he took up a teaching position in Willesden and signed for QPR in 1907 as an amateur.

Our first full England international, Lt. Lintott was killed whilst leading his men of the 15th West Yorkshire Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Robert McLaren Law: His lone Rangers appearance was against Plymouth Argyle in the final Southern League game of the 1910/11 season.

Pte. Law later served with the 4th Battalion Cameron Highlanders and died from his wounds on 18th May 1915, aged 24.

John H. Pennifer arrived at QPR in 1913, and after just three appearances, he enlisted the following year. John was one of the many fatalities at the Battle of the Somme.

Albert Rogers joined the Rangers in 1907. John scored 10 goals in his 34 appearances for the club. Three years later he was transferred to Bristol Rovers.

He enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment and later joined the East Surrey’s. Albert was killed in action on 4th April 1918.

Harry Vernon Thornton – He made 37 appearances for QPR and also scored 10 goals. Harry was one of many players to join the Footballer’s Battalion. He lost his life in France.

Corporal John Tosswill – John made three appearances for the Rangers before joining the Royal Engineers. He became a dispatch rider but returned home after being wounded.

Sadly he passed away, aged just 24, on the operating table in Eastbourne Military Hospital on 28th September 1915.

Dennis Higgins – He played 30 times for QPR and later joined the Sportsmen’s Battalion. Dennis eventually became an officer, but was so badly injured at Ypres in Flanders that he never played again.

Also to be remembered are two R’s fans who sadly lost their lives in the recent conflict in Afghanistan:

Lance Corporal Tom Keogh – He came from the Hallfield Estate in Paddington and was only 24 when he died from a gunshot wound in Sangin, Helmand Province.

Acting Corporal David Barnsdale – 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal). He was the same age as Tom when he was killed clearing explosive devices.

His parents laid a wreath on the Loftus Road centre-circle prior to the Burnley home game in 2010.


Steve Russell

(The pic of Albert Bonass was taken from the 1939/40 Handbook)