We Will Remember Them – ‘His Mother Never Accepted that he was Dead’

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 on 1st January 1912. He arrived at Loftus Road from Chesterfield in 1939 and made his debut on 26th August against Watford.

He joined the RAF after serving as a reserve policeman, but sadly lost his life when his Stirling bomber crashed during a training flight on 8th October 1945.

Corporal Albert ‘Ben’ Butler was the first professional footballer in the ranks of the 17th Middlesex to lose his life.

On the evening of the 30th April, the 17th Middlesex moved back into the front line. Over the next few days six men were wounded, including Cpl. Alf Gregson of Grimsby Town and Cpl. Ben Butler of Queens Park Rangers. Ten days later, Cpl.Butler died of his wounds.

Rev. Samuel Green, a chaplain of Casualty Clearing Stn. No.22, recorded his impressions of the rugged centre-half.

‘A great, big chap lies in this bed – a guard bulges up the blankets over his leg.’ “Well, Corporal, how are you now?” – “Bad. This leg is done in. No more football for me. I’m a ‘pro’ and play for…….”

‘I look at the papers and see his thigh is shattered – always dangerous, these wounds. However, the danger is not immediate, and I shall have many more half-hours at this bedside.

He fights for dear life for ten days, and then goes out. He has played the game. I doubt not that he has won. A fine fellow – may he rest in peace.’

Frank Cannon made 29 appearance for the Rangers before moving on to West Ham. His death on 15th February 1916, was reported a week later in the ‘Biggleswade Chronicle’:

‘Sgt. Frank Cannon, son of Mr & Mrs John Cannon, fruiters, High Street, was extremely well known locally.

He was attached to the 11th Essex Regt. And had been acting as Company Sgt. Major for three weeks before his death. He was wounded by shrapnel and expired on the way to the dressing station. He left a wife and two children.’

Charlie Clarke made six league appearances 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 for the Great Britain team in the 1912 Olympics, which earned him a gold medal. Joseph was cut down by machine gun fire on the Western Front on 27th September 1918.

Albert Edwards made 17 1st team appearances for the Rangersbetween 1902 and 1905. He also played for Aston Villa, Swindon Town, Bristol City and Newport County. Albert lost his life in the Great War.

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

Oscar Horace Stanley Linkson: Andrew Riddoch’s highly recommended book, ‘When the Whistle Blows’, refers to the time when this former Manchester United right-back was actually arrested on one occasion after he had absented with Pte. Wilfred Nixon of Fulham to play for the Rangers at White Hart Lane.

He enrolled with the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Oscar went missing on 8th August 1916 during 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 was signed from Plymouth Argyle as an amateur in 1907 and he made his Rangers debut later that year against New Brompton. He was QPR’s first full England international and went on to make seven appearances for his country.

Lt. Lintott was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme after leading his platoon of the 15th West Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Leeds Pals’ over the top.

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

Pte. Law served with the 4th Battalion Cameron Highlanders and died from his wounds on 18th May 1915, aged just 24. He is remembered with honour on the Le Touret Memorial.

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 and went on to score ten goals in his 34 appearances for the club. Three years later he was transferred to Bristol Rovers. Albert enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment and later joined the East Surrey’s. He was killed in action on 4th April 1918.

H. V. Thornton made his QPR debut on 9th September 1911 and went on to score ten goals in his 37 appearances. Harry was one of many players to join the Footballer’s Battalion. The Battalion was actually the 17th Middlesex Regiment and its second-in-command was Major Frank Buckley who later became the very successful manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Harry lost his life in France.

Corporal John Tosswill made three appearances for the Rangers before joining the Royal Engineers. He became a dispatch rider but had to return home after being wounded. Sadly, he passed away on the operating table in Eastbourne Military Hospital on 28th September 1915.

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

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

And acting Corporal David Barnsdale – 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal). He was the same age as Tom when he lost his life clearing explosive devices.

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


Steve Russell

(My thanks once again go to Andrew Riddoch, Colin Woodley & the late Gordon Macey)


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