In our latest feature, we continue to look at the O's players and staff who saw action in World War I.
Dickie McFadden, or Little Mac as he was affectionately known by family and friends, served as a Company Serjeant. Service Number F/162
He was in the first O’s Wartime squad released in August 1915 and played at Chelsea on 4 September 1915,
Born Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1889 to John and Mary McFadden, the family moved to Blyth, Northumberland with his family as a three-year-old. Young Dickie McFadden went to the same school as friend William Jonas. He started playing football with local youth teams Ashington Black Watch and in 1906 as a seventeen-year-old to Hirst St John’s Church Institute, playing in the Wansbeck League, before joining Newburn in September 1907.
He joined Blyth Spartans of the Northern League in September 1909 for the sum of 12s 6d per week, making his debut on 3 September 1910, a 1-2 defeat to Newburn, this in the same year he married Isabella Robson and then he moved onto Wallsend Park Villa for a fee of £2 during August 1910. The 5ft 8ins and 10st 10lbs inside forward joined O’s in May 1911.
He soon became the fans favourite scoring on debut against Derby County on 2 September 1911 and went on bag 19 goals in 1911-12 to break O’s League goalscoring record of Bill Martin.
His great ventures not only took place on the playing field, in 1911 when walking in Wallsend he dragged a man out of a burning house during 1912 he saved two boys, one being eleven-year-old Edward Arnold Chatis’ from drowning in the River Lea whilst McFadden was on a training run and during February 1913 he saved five and-a half -year-old Alice Maud, the daughter of a labourer from a fire at their home in Rushmore Road, Lower Clapton, when her clothing alight whilst he was on his way to Millfields Road ground for a training session he saw the fire ran into the house and carried the young girl out, sadly Alice didn’t survive the fire.
For rescuing the young children, he was awarded a medal from the Mayor of Hackney Councillor William Hammer.
In November 1914 he represented a Southern X1 against England at Craven Cottage and scored the only goal of the game and was the outstanding player on the field, but never got a chance to play for England. It was during this time that Aston Villa, Everton, Middlesbrough and then Hull City all offered £2 000+ for his services, both club and player turned down the offers. He was also being watched Scottish selectors, but the Great War soon ended his dream of playing international football.
In September 1916 he was promoted company Serjeant-Major, the great O’s forward was seriously wounded by a shell-blast when leading a line of troops along a trench on the front-line near the village of Serra on the 22 October, he died of his wounds in hospital on Monday 23 October 1916, aged twenty-seven, and buried the next day with full military honours in the Couin British Cemetery
The previous month he had received a decoration for his bravery in the field being awarded the Military Medal for repeated acts of bravery on the battlefield, often going into No Man’s Land to rescue wounded soldiers which was sent to his wife. Gone but Never to be Forgotten.
He was born in West Stanley, near Sunderland, Tuesday 29 September 1885, the 5ft 9ins and 10st 10lbs player started his footballing career with Braeside FC and then Sunderland West End FC, both of the District Amateur League. He married Margaret Anne(nee Montgomery) on 16 April 1905 at the St Benet’s Church in Sunderland, had two children, Rebecca born on 27 December 1906 and George born on 18 August 1909 , the family lived at 18 Dame Dorothy Street in Sunderland.
He joined O’s in July 1908 to become one of the great O’s Pre-War players and famous for his bandy legs and biting tackle. He represented London versus Paris, held in Paris during 1911.
He netted 34 goals from 213 first team appearances for O’s, none better that his goal against Spurs at White Hart Lane Boxing Day 1909
He served as a Private in the Army having enlisted during July 1915 with Service Number F/1593 in the Footballers’ Battalion.
He was in the O’s squad listed in August 1915, just before his death he represented the 17th Middlesex Battalion who won the Association Cup in France. A winners’ medal was sent to his widow in Sunderland.
A month into the Somme, Thirty-year old Scott was wounded and taken prisoner and died of his wounds in a German Military Hospital in Saint-Quinton, Aisne, France on Tuesday 16 August 1916. He is buried at St. Souplet British Cemetery, a few miles south of Le Cateau, France. At the time of his death his wife and children were living at 12 Dame Dorothy Street, Sunderland. His wife was informed that he had been missing-in action for three-weeks before being notified of his passing. Gone but Never to be Forgotten.
EVANS, Nolan Edwin
He enlisted as an Orient player at the Fulham Town Hall on 15th December 1914 and played at left-back at Chelsea on 4 September 1915.
‘Peggy’ Evans as he was always known, was the O’s regular Football League full-back, who rose to the rank of Serjeant, he was wounded with a bullet into the knee in the Somme during late October 1916 and spent several months in a military hospital in Blackburn. In March 1918 he was badly injured again and was in hospital recovering from his wounds but in the end, he had to retire from playing after the War.
There was an account of his terrible ordeal in Stephen Jenkins excellent book ‘They Took The Lead’ as supplied by Evans’ daughter Margaret.
‘My father was injured in the Battle of Delville Wood, the same battle that took the life of Willie Jonas. Between 27th and 28TH July 1916. It was a severe injury to his thigh, he crawled into the wood to escape the German soldiers to avoid being shot dead and as he lay, he started seeing his life flash before him and he thought he would be killed. He had a major loss of blood but was found two days later by British medics who eventually took him back to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital. He rarely talked about those awful days in the woods or his recovery. She said that in later years she was never allowed to view his wound, but she was told later that there was a big hole in his thigh, so big you could put your fist into it.’
He joined O’s on 6 May 1912, making 111 League appearances with 1 goal and 5 FA Cup appearances with 0 goals. His only goal, which Evans fondly remembered, came in rather unusual circumstances against Leeds City at Millfields Road on Monday 2 March 1914 kicking off at 4.30pm as the second half started fog engulfed the stadium with the 13 000 O’s fans lighting newspapers so they could see proceedings. Evans took a shot and it flew past their goalie Billy Scott who claimed he did not see the ball, O’s ended up winning 3-1. Their manager Herbert Chapman complained to the Football League.
PEARSON, Thomas. Henry Harold
Tommy Pearson, 5ft 9ins and 11st 7lns right half on the small side but a clever player. He enlisted as an Orient player, being one of the first ten men to enlist with Fred Parker and was a Corporal in the 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Football and the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment), his Service number was F/20.
He was badly injured during in August 1916 and in September 1917 and in the same month Pearson was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the face of the enemy and rescuing a wounded soldier. He also played in December 1917 when he was a new cadet in the Royal Flying Corps. He re-joined O’s in 1919 and stayed for two more seasons. In September 1922, he, alongside Fred Parker, both joined Folkestone. In April 1926 it was reported that he had been with Folkestone for four seasons.
Saunders enlisted as an O’s player who was a Private and later a Corporal in the Army. He was wounded twice who in March 1918 and was awarded a Mons Star, a medal from the British Empire for service in WW1 and was one of the ‘Old Contemptibles’.
SPENCER, Alfred (also listed as Albert)
Alf Spencer enlisted as an Orient player, he was a Private in the Army who was wounded twice. He played at inside forward at West Ham United, a 4-0 defeat and on 17 February 1917 at Crystal Palace and West Ham on 24 February 1917. In May 1918 he was listed as a prisoner of War.
He first joined O’s during January 1914 after serving in India and played his early football there while seeing service with the British Army and represented an Indian international team, on his return to London he was signed-up on amateur forms by manager Doc Holmes and got his big chance when replacing the injured Robert Dalrymple in a 1-0 defeat to Leicester on 14 February 1914.
REASON, Herbert ‘Jumbo’
Jumbo Reason, called that due to his short and stocky build, enlisted as an O’s player, he was an Army Private. He was wounded whilst serving in the Duke of Cambridge’s (Own) Middlesex Regiment and in the 17th (Service) Battalion (1st Football) in France . His service number was F/698. He represented the Footballers Battalion in their 3-1 win over Hampstead Town on 17 April 1915 whilst in training at White City, on that day the O’s first team won 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.
The Wanstead born left-back started with the Wanstead club and spent over five seasons between 1905 and 1910 with O’s, making 95 senior appearances with 4 goals.
PARKER, Frederick GEORGE William
‘Spider’ Parker was born in Weymouth on Friday 18 June 1886 and started playing with local side Portland Grove FC before moving to Weymouth in 1903 and then Western League side Salisbury City in June 1905. He joined O’s on trial on his twenty-second birthday in June 1907, being given a pro contract a month later. On 13 January 1908 he married Emily Snook in Salisbury and they went onto have five children, Stanley born in 1909, died during1930 in Folkestone, Elsie Emily and Fred, twins, born on 20 April 1910, Raymond born in 1918 died during 1966 in Welwyn Garden City and Audrey born in 1926.
He was given the nickname of ‘Spider’ when manager Doc Holmes told reporters that his new charge was just magnificent, the visitors were knocking him down so much, that whilst on the floor he crawled around just like a spider. The nickname was taken up by all and lasted for his fifteen years with the club.
He reached a number of appearance milestones with O’s, the first reach 100 League appearances in April 1910, the first player to 200 League appearances in October 1913 and the first to 300 appearances during October 1920 at the age of thirty-five.
He stayed at the club for eleven seasons and awarded a well-deserved benefit match in 1921. He became player-trainer in 1921-22 and his final appearance came against Leicester City on 21 January 1922, his 350th senior appearance.
He won several honours whilst with O’s including winners’ medals in the London Challenge Cup, London Professional Cup, and West Ham Charity Cup. He also captained the team to a 3-0 victory over Millwall to win the Dubonnet Cup played in Paris, France during May 1911 and captained a London X1 against Birmingham.
In May 1922 he left the club being given a free transfer in recognition of his loyal service to become player-coach-manager and then manager at Folkestone Town staying for several years. During his later years he worked as a porter at Kings Cross Station and died on Saturday 5 January 1963 in the Barnet General Hospital , Hertfordshire of pneumonia, aged seventy-six.
He was credited as being the first man to enlist into the Army, as an Orient player, into the Footballers’ Battalion serving as a Company Serjeant. His Service Number being F/111. In fact, it was Parker who met with the Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith to discuss his ideas for the formation of a Footballers’ Battalion.
A 6ft and 12st 1lb forward. Fred ‘Spider’ Parker was one of the greatest O’s players of all-time.
He was listed in O’s squad for 1915-16 and also played regularly in the War years. In 1917 it was reported he had trench foot, a condition picked-up from the cold and damp conditions in the trenches. He was also wounded in April 1918 on the Western Front, but not seriously hurt. He was a Company Quartermaster Serjeant in the forces. He returned to first team action in 1919, one of just five players to do so after the Great War.
He played for the Reds versus the Whites in a practice match on 25 August 1917 ad on 1 March 1919 versus West Ham United, a 0-0 draw.
Mark Hayball, Lord Mayor of Milton, in Hampshire is very proud of his Great Grandfather Fred Parker and that the club still honour him and the great Orient footballers from the Great War.
MORRIS, Samuel Herbert
On 25 November 1916 he played at Millwall and on 20 January 1917 Sam Morris played at wing-back against Southampton, on 3 February 1917 a 2-2 draw with Arsenal, a 1-2 defeat and Brentford, In November 1917. He moved from O’s to assist Brentford, being now in full-commission.
He enlisted as an Orient player and rose to the rank of Serjeant with the 17th Battalion (Service) of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment during WW1.
He was born in Handsworth, then in Staffordshire on Saturday 23 October 1886, he joined Division One Aston Villa in 1906, but left after a year without making any first team appearances to join Southern League side Queens Park Rangers in 1908, making 40 appearances with 2 goals until moving on in 1911 to Birmingham on a trial until joining Southern Leaguers’ Bristol Rovers staying until the start of WW1, making 89 Southern League appearances when he joined up with the Footballers Battalion.
After the War he returned to Brentford making a further 23 Southern League appearances. He was re-signed when they became members of the Football League in 1920, making his first appearance on 9 October 1920 in a 0-0 draw against Norwich City. And made a further 26 League appearances before leaving to join Kent League side Maidstone United in May 1921.
Morris died in Paddington, London during December 1969, aged eighty-three.
SPENCER, J. A.
He enlisted as an Orient player, he was a Private and then a Bombardier with the forces. He played on 7 October 1916, a 4-0 defeat West Ham United and on 28 October 1916, a 0-2 defeat by Chelsea on 4 November 1916, in a 1-7 defeat to Luton Town on 18 November 1916 and against Crystal Palace during December 1917 and on 24 February 1917 against West Ham United. He also appeared for the Reds versus the Whites in a practice match on 25 August 1917.
NORRIS, Albert Edward
The O’s trainer Bert Norris served in the forces as a Gunner.