Today, we remember with pride O’s legend Richard McFadden, Clapton Orient inside-forward and ace goal-scorer, who was killed during the Battle of the Somme, having been seriously wounded by a shell-blast while leading a line of troops along a trench in the front-line, near the village of Serre on October 22, 1916. Sadly, he died the following day in a field hospital.
McFadden was one of forty-one players, staff and supporters from the O’s who joined-up into the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, which was to be more commonly known as the Footballers’ Battalion. He was also one of the first players to sign on the dotted line for King and Country, at the specially convened meeting to form the battalion at Fulham Town Hall on December 15, 1914.
His heroism in the face of the enemy was well documented and resulted in him being awarded the Military Medal for ‘Bravery in the Field’, It was known that he often went out into No Man’s Land to rescue wounded comrades. A rapid rise through the ranks saw him attain the rank of Company Sergeant Major – he was also in-line for a commission.
Prior to the war and before coming to London, it was reported that he had dragged a man from a burning building. After he had signed for the O’s, it was also documented that he had saved the lives of two young lads who were struggling in the River Lea, just two weeks prior to rescuing a very small child from a burning building in Clapton.
For the rescuing of these three young children he was awarded a medal from the Mayor of Hackney.
Richard McFadden’s Obituary, published in Oriental Notes November 4, 1916
‘It is with feelings of great sorrow and deep regret that we publish the sad news of the death
of Company Serjeant Major Richard McFadden. He died in hospital from wounds received in battle. It is hard to realise that the bright and cheerful young man to whom we recently said good-bye, should now be numbered with the Empire’s heroic dead. It would prove a difficult task to do full justice to the memory of our late inside-left. His knack of making and retaining friends; his loyalty; his innate love of fair-play, and his ever-ready hand to succour those in distress was characteristic of the man. Of his brave deeds – both in civil and military life – the majority of us are aware. To his lasting honour he volunteered in the early stages of the war, and rapid promotion followed. We feel assured that we express the feelings of his numerous friends and admirers when we tender our heart-felt sympathy to Mrs McFadden and the near relatives of our late player.’
Signed from Wallsend Park Villa in 1911
142 Appearances 68 Goals
(Top scorer in the four seasons he played for the O’s)
We Will Remember Them
Photo coloured by O’s fan, Dave Cook.