Historic rugby club raising funds to honour lost 'Great War' players (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Rosslyn Park Rugby Club raising funds to honour lost 'Great War' players
11:20am Wednesday 13th February 2013 in News
A historic rugby club is raising money to erect a WW1 memorial in honour of 86 club players who lost their lives in The Great War.
Rosslyn Park Rugby Club lost its original memorial when it moved from Richmond to Roehampton in 1956, inspiring author and historian, Stephen Cooper, from Roehampton, to document the lives of Rosslyn Park players who fought in WW1 in a book called ‘The Final Whistle’.
Mr Cooper chose the individual stories of fifteen players, a full rugby team, as a snapshot of the sacrifice made by all eighty-six men.
He said: "These fifteen players told the whole story of the war, chronologically, across all the military forces and in postings across the world."
Mr Cooper was head of youth at Rosslyn Park for five years.
While trying to organise a memorial tour in France for his U15s side he began research of the players for his young charges.
He created a website for his squad to access information about former players and emails started flooding in.
He said: "People contacted me saying they were descendants of players and to ask if there was going to be a book."
Two years of work unearthed stories like that of Jimmy Dingle and Nowell Oxland, two great friends whose lives and deaths were intertwined.
Both vicars’ sons, they attended the same school before going to Oxford University and then playing for Rosslyn Park Rugby Club.
They died within days and yards of each other at Gallipoli in 1915. In a tragic end to their friendship, the retreat of Mr Dingle's platoon resulted in the death of Mr Oxland and many of his fellow soldiers.
Charlie Addiman, from the club, said: "It’s terrible there isn’t currently a memorial but if you’re going to do it, you want to do it properly. You want to honour them."
Club President, Peter Berryman, 82, said: "We’re very proud of what Mr Cooper has done. It’s a piece of Rosslyn Park history."
The proceeds of The Final Whistle are going to The Rosslyn Park Injury Trust Fund and Prostate Cancer UK.