Hockey's Military Stories

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Lt CA Campbell

Lt Charles Arthur Campbell

 

It seems highly likely that Lt Charles Arthur Campbell was the first hockey player to make the ultimate sacrifice in WW1 as there were so few others killed, officers or soldiers, before the Battle at Mons.

Lt Campbell was born in London but grew up in Worthing and learnt his hockey at Downside School (1901-09) and the Royal Military College Sandhurst before joining the army in 1911. He was to lead a long list of 2nd Lieutenants and Lieutenants who were to be killed in action during WW1 as more of these ranks lost their lives than any other.

He was first Lieutenant Officer of the Cheshire Regiment to die and, as the captain of the Regiment hockey team, was probably the first hockey player to die in WW1. The strength of the 1st Battalion of the Cheshire marching out that day at Mons was 27 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 933 men.

At roll call in Bivouac at Les Bavay there were just six Officers, a Warrant Officer and 199 men. In just one day 78% of the regiment were either killed, wounded or missing as many were taken prisoner; three officers and 54 NCOs were dead, 15 officers were wounded as were many other ranks, some of whom would die of their wounds days later. Some 490 soldiers were captured including half of the hockey team as the battalion collapsed.

Although Lt Charles Campbell was probably the first regular hockey player to die, he would soon be followed by hockey players of note including two 1908 Olympic gold medallists Reginald George Pridmore and John Yate Robinson, as well as one of the North’s best forwards to wear an England shirt Arnold Inman Draper.

Mike Smith, May 2017

Hockey's Military Stories: An Introduction

This research project was prompted by the enormous interest and publicity that has surrounded the centenary of the start of WW1. We knew that many, indeed thousands, of hockey players were involved and that many lost their lives. The stories do not just relate to serving men but also those...

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