Leicester Fosse And The First World War: Part 12
In a new 25-part series, Club Historian John Hutchinson investigates the stories behind Leicester Fosse and the First World War.
2014 marked the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. There were huge losses on both sides of the conflict. Over fifty players from Leicester Fosse Football Club fought in that War. They served in a variety of regiments, including the famous Footballers’ Battalion. Four Fosse players were decorated during the conflict.
Up until recently, we thought that 11 Leicester Fosse players were killed in this war but recent research by Paul Taylor has revealed a twelfth fatality, whose story will be told later in this series.
In , John looked at the story of Bertie Waterfield.
Private George Warren was the sixth Leicester Fosse player to be killed in action in the First World War. Born in Burton on Trent in 1881, the son of Frederick and Louisa Warren, centre-forward George made two appearances for Burton Swifts in 1898 in Division Two of the Football League.
He signed for Leicester Fosse from Hinckley Town for the 1903/04 season, scoring seven goals in his 21 appearances. In the years leading up to the First World War, apart from a short spell at Second Division Stockport County, George played for various sides outside the Football League including Hinckley United (twice) and Nuneaton Town.
On the outbreak of war, George was living at 4½ Well Lane, Hinckley.
In February 1917 he joined the Army Service Corps (later called the Royal Army Service Corps). The Corps’ function was to supply food, equipment and ammunition to the vast armies serving on many fronts. Using horses, motor vehicles, railways and waterways the logistical support they provided was vital to the War effort.
The Army Service Corps was organised into companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were attached to Divisions of the army.
Only three months after enlisting, George was killed on the Western Front on 16 May 1917. When he was killed he was with the 2nd Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. This was part of the 16th Infantry Brigade, which itself was part of the 6th Infantry Division.
The 2nd Battalion spent the whole of the First World War in France. After participating in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, it was sent a few miles to the north to the Loos Salient, not far Vimy Ridge, early in 1917. The Loos Salient had been the scene of devastating British losses in the autumn of 1915, with over 60,000 casualties.
When George joined the Regiment in early 1917 this sector of the line was relatively peaceful.However, the day after the Canadians finally captured Vimy Ridge on 12 April 1917, his battalion then saw more action.
On 13 April 1917, it was ordered to pursue the Germans as they withdrew to their new defensive positions along the Hindenberg Line. By nightfall the 2nd Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment had occupied the German positions in front of them.
Despite actions elsewhere along the Western Front, George’s sector of the front then became relatively quiet again, but not quite enough to prevent him being killed only a month later.
He is buried in the Philosophe Military Cemetery at Mazingarbe which is very close to Loos and not far from Vimy Ridge.
In October 2014 a party from Leicester City Football Club paid its respects at George Warren’s graveside in the beautifully kept Philosophe Cemetery.
In November 2014 the Leicester City first team players paid their respects to Leicester Fosse’s fallen at the Victoria Park War Memorial.
The player chosen to hold up a picture of George's memorial stone was another centre-forward, Chris Wood.
The documentary film Foxes Remembered: The story of Leicester City and the First World War can be viewed .
01. Philosophe Cemetery Mazingarbe.
02. Chris Wood/Warren Victoria Park.
03. Warren’s grave.
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