We shall remember them: SA sporting heroes who died in the Great War
REGGIE Schwarz‘s name is on a plaque outside the Wanderers clubhouse in Johannesburg, along with many others. His is the most recognisable name but, on checking, so are three others.
The four are among the club‘s members who died during World War 1. The other three are Gordon White, who played in 17 cricket Tests for South Africa, Henry Stricker and Charles Handfield, who both played for Transvaal. White died of wounds suffered while leading coloured South African soldiers in a bayonet charge against Turks in Gaza, where he is buried.
They are among 40 Wanderers members who made the great sacrifice and below them on the plaque are the names of many others from World War 2, but since this is now the commemoration of many events from 1914-1918, I‘ll stick with the Great War.
There has been a lot about war these past few days. Mark Cavendish paused after winning the first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday as the race passed through Normandy to honour those who fell during the D-Day landings of 1944.
Last Friday marked 100 years since the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, a 140-day slaughter of thousands of young men, including 2536 of our own at Delville Wood. Claude Newberry, who played in four cricket Tests against England in the summer before the war, and Toby Moll, who played a single rugby Test against Britain in 1910, were two of the South Africans killed on the Somme. Moll died at Delville Wood.
South Africa lost seven Test cricketers in the war and 13 first-class players. There were also three Springbok rugby players and many other sportsmen.
Jan Willem Hurter (Jacky) Morkel, whose individual brilliance at centre enabled the Boks to narrowly beat the powerhouse Welsh club Llanelli on the 1912-13 tour of Britain, played in all five of the Tests and scored four tries. He was one of the famous rugby Morkels from Somerset West. His brother Gerhard and their cousins Boy and Dougie were part of that Springbok team.
Morkel was a mounted scout during the campaign in East Africa. Cut off from his headquarters during the rainy season, he fell ill and died of dysentery in 1916. He is buried in the Dar es Salaam military cemetery near Tommy Thompson, a teammate from the 1912-1913 tour.
These scribblings began with Schwarz, so let‘s end with him. He was born in London and played three rugby Tests for England
before emigrating to South Africa, where he made his mark as a
googly bowler. It was an art he had learnt from Bernard Bosanquet, the English Test bowler credited with inventing the leg-spinner‘s wrong ‘un.
Schwarz played 20 Tests, all against England, between 1906 and 1912. He was one of Wisden‘s cricketers of the year in 1908, having taken 137 wickets in 1907 at just 11.70 apiece.
He was a major in the King‘s Royal Rifle Corps in the British army during World War 1, serving in France. He won the Military Cross for bravery and survived
until the armistice on November 11, 1918, but he died just seven days later of Spanish flu.
Rudyard Kipling, who lost a son in the war, first came up with the promise “Their name liveth for evermore” engraved on the Thiepval memorial on the Somme. But we have already begun to forget them. - The Times