“If I should die, think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England.” Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)
One hundred years ago this month, Great Britain declared war on Germany. So beginning the catastrophe that we nowadays call the First World War. A century on, this edition of CBL Magazine is dedicated to all of those who lost their life in that almighty conflict. Profits from this edition will therefore benefit our own Jimmy Mizen Foundation based in Hither Green and the Albert Schweitzer Kinderdorf in Waldenburg, Germany. This being our small attempt to point the way to a better future for all of our kids and being something that we hope those who fought would have approved of.
There are four names carried on the official Millwall plaque at The Den and this article is based on one sent to us by Jon Watts (Hereford / Corfu Lion) when we went under the NOLU title. It is our privilege to be able to re-publish it, both in honour of our own Millwall players and supporters who fought, but also all who did so. Wherever they came from and whichever flag they fought for.
2nd Lieutenant Joseph Dines
13th Liverpool Regiment. Born Kings Lynn, 12 April 1886. Killed by machine gun fire in Pas de Calais on the Western Front, 27 September 1918, aged 32. Buried Grand Ravine British Cemetery, Havrincourt. Grave number A.42.
Played 27 games for England’s amateur side and won a football gold medal at the 1912 Olympic games. Dines, known as “The Smiling Footballer”, worked in Kings Lynn as a school teacher before moving to Essex. He began his playing career in local football before spells with Norwich City Reserves and Woolwich Arsenal Reserves. He made his amateur debut for England against Wales in 1910 and was a regular in the pre-war England team. He also played international matches in the Olympic series, winning a gold medal.
He was playing for Millwall when he responded to a call for additional store men in the Army Ordnance Corps and joined up at as a private at Woolwich on 29 November 1915. After serving in Northampton and Chatham he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and posted to Grantham to train on ‘tanks’. He wanted a commission in the Tank Corps and although he was already a qualified musketry instructor, his assessor felt he needed additional experience to develop his leadership skills, therefore he was discharged to a commission in the Liverpool Regiment on 25 June1918 and posted to the 51st Graduated Battalion a month later. Promoted to Lieutenant, he finally arrived in France on 16 September1918 and was killed a month later – just six weeks before the end of the war.
Private James “Jack” Williams
17th Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion). Born in Buckley, Flintshire, May 1884. Reported missing presumed dead on 5 June 1916, aged 32. Capped twice for Wales.
Williams was variously known as James, John, Jack and Ginger Williams. (As a footballer, the player’s first name is generally recorded as James. However, confusion has arisen about his name and it seems possible that his birth was registered under the name John, hence that name appearing on his military service record.) He was a prolific scorer in junior football and played non-league football for Bury and Accrington Stanley before impressing on trial with Second Division club Birmingham. Williams signed for them in August 1908 and made his debut on 7 September, playing at inside left in a 3–1 win at home to Bradford. He was given a decent run of games in the starting eleven but failed to impress and returned to Accrington Stanley in February 1909.
In the 1909 close season he moved to Crystal Palace, then in the Southern League. With Palace his best position was centre forward or inside right, though he was capable of playing in any forward role. Described as “an eager, neat and busy little footballer who possessed a snappy tackle and plenty of enthusiasm and determination”, he scored 58 goals from 149 appearances in all competitions, including scoring five in one match against Southend United in September 1909. Williams remained with the club for nearly five seasons, during which time he won two caps for Wales, making his international debut in the 1912 British Home Championship against Scotland at Tynecastle on 2 March 1912. Wales lost 1–0. His second cap came in a 3–2 defeat at Ninian Park against Ireland in the same competition.
In February 1914 he joined Millwall, also playing in the Southern League, and remained with the club for about a year before enlisting in the 17th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion) and serving in northern France. He was reported missing presumed dead on 5 June 1916 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
Private Charles Edward Green
17th Middlesex Regiment (The Footballers’ Battalion). Killed in action 28 April 1917, aged 35.
Played at right back for Millwall during the war competitions 1915-17.
Private George “Reg” Porter
18th Middlesex Regiment. Killed in action 14 July 1918, aged 26. Played for the Lions 1913-15 making just two appearances in the Southern League.
Two other Millwall players survived the war. Sergeant William “Bill” Voisey of the Royal Field Artillery who was decorated for bravery under fire; and Wally Davis, a Welsh international who made 114 appearances before the war, scoring 67 goals. An ankle wound meant he couldn’t play again and he was found drowned in mysterious circumstances on 20 May 1937.
“Their names liveth for ever more”