Sport in World War I


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Sport in World War I

  1. 1. Resource Pack Sport in World War IDeveloped for World War One Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings by Richard Marshall,University of Oxford (August 2012). Free, high quality educational resources on newperspectives of the First World War.
  2. 2. Rugby union footballers are doing their duty. Over 90% have enlisted. British athletes! Will you follow thisglorious example? Available via the Library of Congress, in Public Domain."This is not the time to play games" (Lord Roberts). "Every player who represented England in Rugbyinternational matches last year has joined the colours." - extract from The Times, November 30, 1914.Printed by Johnson, Riddle & Co., Ltd., London, S.E. [1915].
  3. 3. Young men of Britain! The Germans said youwere not in earnest. "We knew youd come -and give them the lie!" Play the greater gameand join the football battalion. Available viathe Library of Congress, in the Public Domain.Extract from Frankfurter Zeitung: "The youngBritons prefer to exercise their long limbs onthe football ground, rather than to expose themto any sort of risk in the service of theircountry.“As professional footballers were thought to besetting a bad example by not volunteering theirservices (the professional season was underwayand many players felt they could not leave theirclubs), a Footballer’s Battalion (17th Middlesex)was raised in December 1914, and encouragedwhole teams to enlist.Designed and printed by Johnson, Riddle & Co.,Ltd., London, S.E. [1915]
  4. 4. The sportsman battalions recruit who wreckedthe zeppelin and won the V.C. Follow his lead andjoin the sportsmans battalion. Available via theLibrary of Congress, in the Public Domain.The Sportsman’s Battalions (23rd and 24th RoyalFusiliers) were raised as a means of encouragingrecruitment among upper- and middle-class youngmen. Poster illustrated with the image of Sub.-Lt.R.A.J. Warneford, VC. Although initially joining asportsman’s battalion, he transferred almostimmediately into the Royal Naval Air Service.W. Straker, Ltd., Printers, 13, Coventry Street,Picadilly, W. [1915]
  5. 5. Jump into your place in the SportsmansCompany of the Irish Canadian Rangers.Available via the Library of Congress, in thePublic Domain.As well as sporting interests, local andnational sentiments were also takenadvantage of for recruitment purposes. Soan Irish Canadian battalion (the 199th) hasformed a sportsman’s company, followingthe example of British sportsman’sbattalions. Montreal : Montreal Litho. Co.,Ltd., [between 1914 and 1918]
  6. 6. OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. The W.A.A.Cs in France haveresponded to a suggestion that they should in their spare time assist in the recovery of convalescentsoldiers in hospitals in France, by inviting them to W.A.A.C. camps to take part in sports. Cricket. Availablevia the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SA.Member of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps batting in a game of cricket. The players do not seem to havemuch experience in the game: the wicket-keeper has had a long-stop placed behind him. Although crickethad mass appeal in this period, the sport languished as a pastime behind the front as it required specialequipment. Games of football were easier to organise and could be played on much rougher ground.
  7. 7. Lt. Ronald William Poulton Palmer. Available via Wikipedia Commons as CC BY-NC-SARonald Poulton Palmer player for Harlequins and Liverpool F. C. (later Liverpool St. Helens). He captainedthe unbeaten England XV in the 1914 season, scoring four tries against France in the last test match beforethe war. Volunteering for service in 1914, he was commissioned into the 1/4th (Territorial) Bn. RoyalBerkshire Regiment, and was killed by a sniper on 5th May 1915 while supervising work from the top of adugout.
  8. 8. OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. The W.A.A.Cs in Francehave responded to a suggestion that they should in their spare time assist in the recovery of convalescentsoldiers in hospitals in France, by inviting them to W.A.A.C. camps to take part in sports. Hockey.Available via the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SAFrom the same series as the previous picture, though here an actual game seems to be in progress.Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps playing hockey with British and New Zealand soldiers.
  9. 9. BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE WESTERN FRONT. Black Watch hold sports whilst resting. Gashelmet V.C. race. Available via the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SABattalion sports day event, involving a race while wearing gas helmets (early gas masks). Such athleticscontests were often organised by units while resting out of the line, and not only helped relax the men, butalso had obvious training benefits.
  10. 10. OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN OF THE AQUATIC SPORTS OF CAVALRY BEHIND THE LINE - A race inprogress. Available via the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SA.Note the group of French women and children on the right bank. Local people frequently came to viewmilitary sporting events, and were often officially invited to be spectators.
  11. 11. OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE - Divisional Sports. The firsttime round. Available via the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SASports days could be very elaborate affairs. Divisional events often included horse-races; as the army waslargely dependant on horse transport, and some officers were able to bring their own mounts to France,competition was often intensive.
  12. 12. Photograph of the football team of the 4th East Yorks. Contributed to the Great War Archive by SandraCane. Available under the JISC Model Licence.Many units organised semi-permanent sporting teams to take on rivals; the 4th Bn East Yorks football team,even had their own strip, presumably paid for out of battalion funds. According to accompanying notes,this picture taken at Hornsea in 1916. However, the 4th Bn. was by this time serving in France.
  13. 13. Details of football match from Royal Naval Divisional Artillery Christmas celebrations programme.Contributed to the Great War Archive by Mrs Jill Cross. Available under the JISC Model Licence.Page 2 of a programme for Christmas celebrations, 1918, humorously advertising a football match: ‘there isto be no kicking below the belt… To make the ground more level, volunteers are required from spectatorsto lay in the shell holes… players are reminded that the fewer the survivors there are, the larger will be therum ration’. After the armistice, such events played an important role in keeping soldiers occupied whilewaiting for demobilization.
  14. 14. OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Scotch troops at the entrance to their hut onNew Years Day. Available via the National Library of Scotland as CC BY-NC-SAPicture encapsulating the main recreational activities of British troops during the war: music (herebagpipes and drums), drink, cigarettes, and football. Although images of organised matches predominatein official photographs, many men would gather together for a kick-about behind the lines; games oftendrew in surrounding troops and spectators, and sides of 50 or more players were not unknown.
  15. 15. Bavarian Football team relaxing on Eastern Front. Drakegoodman collection, available via Flickr as CC BY-NC-SANote on reverse "Rußland“ [Russia]. German troops from Bavaria relaxing on the Eastern Front with afootball, much like their British counterparts. Uniform details and historical context suggest photographtaken in summer of 1917.
  16. 16. 2nd Lt. Donald Simpson Bell VC. Available via Wikipedia as CC BY-SA.Donald Simpson Bell played as an amateur for Crystal Palace and Newcastle United, before signing as aprofessional with Bradford (Park Avenue) in 1912. He became one of the first professional footballer tovolunteer for service in the war, joining the West Yorkshire Regiment as a private and rapidly rose throughthe ranks. Commissioned into the 9th (Service) Bn. Yorkshire Regiment, he won the Victoria Cross fordestroying a machine gun and its crew at Horseshoe Trench on 10th July 1916, during the first phase of theBattle of the Somme. He was killed five days later in a similar act of bravery.
  17. 17. Photograph of two men in boxing ring on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Contribute to the Great War Archive byHelen Elletson, available under the JISC Model Licence.Boxing had long been popular in the Royal Navy, and men often competed within and between ships,the ultimate accolade being ‘champion of the fleet’. Part of a collection relating to Frank HaroldElletson, Royal Marine Artillery. Date uncertain, but the collection is described as including: "Diary[photo scrapbook] of HMS Queen Elizabeth, January to May 1915, plus photographs c. 1918".
  18. 18. Original caption: Two officers curling on a frozen canal with ice blocks. Available via the National Library ofScotland as CC BY-NC-SAOpportunities for sporting diversions were few and far between in the harsh winters usually experienced onthe Western Front during the Great War. Here, two officers of the Royal Artillery take part in an impromptugame of curling, using blocks of ice in place of the polished stones.
  19. 19. Major Hesketh-Prichard. Available via Wikipedia Commons as CC BY-SA.Major Hesketh-Prichard drew upon his experiences as a big-game hunter to organise the first formaltraining of snipers for the British army, setting up schools of instruction in France. Many devotees of targetsports served as scouts or snipers during the war, and many privately-owned target rifles were donated forthe use of the soldiers.Hesketh-Prichard was also a talented cricketer, playing first-class matches for Hampshire and touringinternationally with various MCC teams before the war. For a short period at London County (since defunct)he was the teammate of W. G. Grace.
  20. 20. Original caption: OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. Cyclistscouts going forward to watch the movements of the enemy. Available via the National Library of Scotlandas CC BY-NC-SAPrior to the outbreak of war, the Territorial Force possessed nine cyclist battalions, recruited from civiliancycling enthusiasts, and in 1915 an Army Cyclist Corps was formed to control bicycle infantry. Cyclist troopsserved primarily as scouts, messengers, and mounted infantry, the latter riding to the front but dismountingfor action. Bicycle units did not require the complicated training and logistics of cavalry, but theiropportunities on the terrain of the Western Front were few, and most served at home or in other theatres.
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