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From the Bowls Boards ( 1 of 3)

Bowlers new and long standing often declare an interest in the boards on the bowls pavilion walls. These boards list officials and competition winners back into the 19th century. During the centenary of the First World War (2014-2018) I put together an online book charting the war records of members of what is now Ashbrooke Sports Club who had a role to play in the conflict. The result was mini biographies of more than 250 members with over 60 losing their lives. This is a remarkably large percentage and pinpoints the sacrifice made by young sportsmen ( who served mainly as junior officers) between 1914 and 1918. A number who survived the conflict took up bowls in later life and I am going to share some of their experiences over the next few blogs.

Bertrand Percy Whillis (SCFC/FWW 249)* had his birth registered in Newcastle upon Tyne during the fourth quarter of 1886. His father was a clerk in a newspaper office and prior to the war Bertrand worked as a clerk too – in a waterworks and a bank. The family address in 1891 and 1901 was Stanton Street and in 1911 17, Sidney Grove – both in Newcastle. He was gazetted as a 2nd lieutenant in April 1915 and appears in an army list for 1916 as a lieutenant – both in the 20th Service Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Scottish). He entered the Front in June of the same year. In March 1918 he was made a temporary captain in the Machine Gun Corps and by then had been awarded a Military Cross. His medal roll index card notes service as a 2nd lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers and as a captain and major in the 34th Machine Gun Corps. The award of the Military Cross is also noted here – (apparently awarded in the New Year Honours List for 1918). He married in Sunderland in 1918. He claimed his service medals in 1923 from an address in Berwick upon Tweed and died at Mowbray House on Tunstall Road, Sunderland in 1960, leaving over £10,000 to his widow. He was active in the bowls section of the club in later life and there are various clues suggesting that he worked at one time as a manager for Barclay’s Bank.

*Each member was coded Sunderland Cricket and Football Club (SCFC) First World War (FWW) and a personal number ( 1 -265 mainly alphabetical). Please get in touch if you would like a (gratis!) online copy of the First World War book. See keithgregson. com for contact details


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