OUR HER-O'S: Part two of Orient's WW1 Heroes

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EVANS, Robert

Private Evans enlisted in the Footballers’ Battalion as an Orient player, he was a Private in the Army and joined O’s on 16 August 1913 from Woolwich Arsenal , who he joined on amateur forms in September 1912.

He made one League appearance in January1913 against Newcastle United and one FA Cup appearance a month later against Liverpool but no League appearances for O’s. In November 1916 he was reported as being wounded in action but turned up in London playing at Millwall on 25 November 1916.

The Islington born right-back made one further WW1 appearance for O’s on 16 March 1918 against Queens Park Rangers.


A Bombardier who enlisted as an Orient player in the Footballers’ Battalion, his debut came on 23 September 1916 versus Fulham and he also played at centre half at Portsmouth in December 1916 and against Tottenham Hotspur on 6 January 1917.

On 17 March 1917 he took over in goal from E. Lilley, who proved to be a great success and saved many Spurs shots. He was also a ‘guest’ player for West Ham United with two appearances in September and October 1917.

FORREST, James Jack Henry

He served as a Gunner and in October 1917 he severely wounded his right forearm. In November 1917 he was wounded again and was in hospital.

He also played for O’s on 3 December 1916 in a 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers and on 25 December 1918 against Arsenal, on 25 January 1919, at Chelsea in a 3-3 draw on 1 February 1919 and in a 1-3 defeat by Millwall and throughout January to April 1919.

Forrest was born in Shildon, County Durham during 1891 and the half-back started off as a youngster with local club Sunderland West End winning the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup, he moved to Houghton Rovers and in 1909 he came up against the great George Camseil who netted 11 goals in a Fridley match for a Middlesbrough X1 in a 14-1 victory against Houghton, not an ideal way for Forrest to progress his young career but they went onto win the Sunderland District League. In 1913 he moved south to join O’s in trial and was soon signed up proving to be a hard-worker with a strong biting tackle.

The 5ft 9ins and 11st 7lbs half-back made his O’s League debut on 6 September, a 1-0 victory over Fulham and his first goal came on Christmas Day 1913 in a 5-2 victory over Bristol City.

He returned to the side after the War playing a further two seasons with 63 appearances and five goals.


Jimmy Gascoigne, who enlisted as an Orient player served as a Gunner in the Army. He was am amateur player who appeared for a number of London non-league clubs.

GIBSON, Harold Thomas

Hoxton born Harry Gibson joined O’s from the Hoxton Hall Club. He enlisted as an Orient player and was a Corporal, later made a Serjeant. He was wounded in action during September 1916 serving in the 17th (Service) and 21ST (Service) Battalions of the Duke of Cambridge’s’ Own (Middlesex) regiment.

He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 1st Service) Battalion of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry on 27 August 1918.

He was listed in the O’s squad in August 1915 and was later made a Serjeant. On 1 December 1917 whilst on leave from fighting in France he turned out for the O’s against Crystal Palace, a 1-3 defeat.

He had to retire from playing early in 1918 due to his wounds. It was reported he met an American girl and emigrated to the States.


Tommy Griffiths was born in Manchester on Saturday 27 October 1888 and started off with Liverpool Telegraph Messengers before joining Lancashire League side Clitheroe Central on amateur forms for three-months. He was also a fine athlete and ran as a professional in Lancashire winning over £100 in prize money.

He signed for Blackburn Rovers as a professional and played in their Lancashire League side that won the title. In June 1910 he signed for Exeter City, making his debut in a Southern League fixture against Leyton and in his two season with them he made 22 Southern League appearances with 2 goals before joining O’s during May 1912.

He served in the forces as a Gunner and played for O’s against Chelsea on 9 February 1918, a 3-0- defeat. He made 12 senior appearances at left-back for O’s between 1912 and 1914 before going off to Wales to join Llanelli in May 1914 along with Bob Dalrymple, but both returned to London to sign up for the Footballers Battalion and also play for the O’s.

GULL, Jack William

He served in the forces, he was a member of the staff at the club and instrumental in setting up and playing in the successful Clapton Orient baseball teams that won the Baseball Cup in both 1907 and 1909, standing at 3rd base.

In October 1909 he played at centre forward for O’s reserves versus Hastings United.


He served as a Gunner in the Army and was a guest player with O’s in 1916 with the Royal Garrison Artillery and the 91st Siege Battery RGA with Service Number 66058. 

He was admitted to No: 11 casualty Clearing Station with Synovitis of the right knee on 8 January 1917 following duty at Mailly-Maillet, he was taken by ambulance train to No: 26 General Hospital, Etaples in northern France. He was discharged on 18 September 1917 and awarded a Silver War Badge No: 245417 on his discharge.

He was born in Radcliffe, Lancashire on Wednesday 24 Jul 1889, one of three footballing brothers, the others being Billy and Tommy, all of who played for Leeds City in WW1.

The wing-half started his career with Black Lane St Andrews before moving onto Colne. In 1914 he joined Burnley, making four League appearances. After the War he joined Scotswood. In 1919 he signed for South Shields with a productive 49 appearances and two goals. In 1921 he joined Charlton Athletic, making 15 appearances.

He died in his native Radcliffe on Sunday 28 June 1959.

HIND, William

Billy Hind played in a 3-0 win over Millwall on 2 September 1916 and against Crystal Palace on 21 October 1916.

In January 1916 he was suspended for 14- days after being sent-off against West Ham United in a WW1 fixture for fighting with the Hammers Danny Shea (later also an O’s player), he got a one month suspension. He served in the Army as a Gunner. He returned to O’s and played against Portsmouth on 10 March 1917. In 1918 Billy Hind was recovering in hospital from wounds received.

Hind was born in Percy Main, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne during April 1885 son of Thomas (a plumber) and Agnes Hind who had four sons and one daughter.

The gangly 5ft 10ins and 11st 2lbs right-half started off working as a plasterer in the building trade while playing with Willington Athletic before joining Fulham in May 1907, making his League debut against O’s on 26 October 1907 but only made two further League appearances before signing for O’s on a free transfer in June 1908, making his O’s League debut at Hull City, a 3-2 defeat on 5 September 1908.

His first O’s goal came against his old club Fulham, a penalty in a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage before 25 000 fans on 20 March 1909. He was regular for the next six season leading up to World War One. He was a regular member of the O’s team that finished in fourth spot in Division Two in both 1910-11 and 1911-12 and was in the side that won the London Challenge Cup in 1911-12, a 3-0 win over Millwall.

In May 1913 Scottish side Clyde made an offer for him, which O’s management declined.

He returned to O’s after the War making 8 appearances in 1919 before retiring and joining Welsh side Ton Pentre as trainer. In 1921 he returned to Millfields as assistant trainer and stayed for four more years.
He died in East Ham, London Wednesday 30 January 1963, aged seventy-seven.

HOLMES, Norman Arnold

Norman Holmes enlisted as an Orient player from York City FC, the 5ft 10ins and 12st 3lbs right-back played on 17 February 1917 at Crystal Palace and against Crystal Palace again on 6 October 1917.

In 1918 he was in hospital from serious wounds received and after the War he was not able to play football again.

He was an O’s first teamer and younger brother of Manager William ‘Billy’ Holmes. A Lance- Corporal Service Number F/72, he was wounded in WW1 serving with the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) regiment, the 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Football), the 21ST Battalion (Islington) and the 5th Reserve Battalion. He was commissioned on 25 June 1918.

He was born in Darley Hillside, Matlock, Derbyshire on Sunday 21 September 1890, the youngest of nine children to William and Margaret Holmes, publicans of Holly Tree Inn in Darley Dale for thirty-two years between 1881 and 1913.

During his time with O’s he lived in Powercross Road, Hackney, sharing logins with O’s forward John Lee. He made just 4 League appearances for O’s between 1910 and June 1913

Holmes moved to Huddersfield Town  on 16 June 1913, making just three League appearances, his debut came on 18 October 1913 versus Grimsby Town before going to play for Midland League side York City in July 1914, making 3 Midland League appearances.

Norman Holmes died in Liverpool during July 1965, aged seventy-four.