Despite the O’s being without a fixture on this special weekend, there will still be an opportunity for supporters and friends of the Club, to remember the service and sacrifice made by the servicemen and women of our country, during two world wars and conflicts since, and particularly remembering the Clapton Orient side that joined-up en masse into the 17th Bn Middlesex Regiment – ‘The Footballers’ Battalion,’ in the First World War.
The story of the O’s major contribution to the Footballers’ Battalion is well documented in Steve Jenkins’ book, They Took The Lead, as well as Michael Head’s stage production, The Greater Game, which is based on Steve’s book and which is currently being performed at the Waterloo East Theatre.
This Sunday, November 11, which rather aptly is both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, the Leyton Branch of The Royal British Legion will be holding its annual Service of Remembrance and Parade.
Firstly, commencing at 9.30am, a short service will take place at the War Memorial in Coronation Gardens, that will include the laying of wreaths and the playing of ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ by the Leyton Orient Buglers. The memorial has a granite plaque that commemorates the lives of the three Clapton Orient players killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 – Company Serjeant Major Richard McFadden MM, Private William Jonas and Private George Scott.
Following the service, the parade will set-off from Buckingham Road, led by 17th Pals’ Battalion Band. Members of the public will be invited to march behind the band, along with ex-servicemen and women, the emergency services and youth organizations, as it makes its way through the streets of Leyton to St Mary’s Church in Church Road.
Later in the day, some members of the 17th Pals’ Battalion Band will firstly attend a performance of ‘The Greater Game, and then afterwards form-up at with the rest of the band in Waterloo Station at 6.30pm, to take part in the huge national event, ‘BATTLE’S OVER,’ which will commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War throughout the length and breadth of the land. As well as playing bugle marches of the period, at 6.55pm ‘Last Post’ will also be played, joining-up with other buglers around the country - the O’s are the only football club represented in this important and symbolic event.
The 17th Pals’ Battalion Band was formed by Steve Jenkins in 2012 and mostly comprises of former members of the Boys’ Brigade, a number of whom are Leyton Orient supporters or friends of the Club. The band performs to commemorate the service and sacrifice made by the footballers who served in the 17th Middlesex and in particular the forty-one players, staff and supporters from Clapton Orient. The band has paraded on the Somme in 2016 and 2018 and in 2017, the Ypres Salient, during which it took part in the world-famous Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate – which was the very first occasion a football club had been invited to participate in this iconic event.
The O’s Somme Banner will also be on display in Waterloo Station, ensuring that the Clapton Orient Die-Hards of 1916 are remembered with pride.
O’s supporters will be made most welcome at both of these important events.
We Will Remember Them