BLACK AND WHITE HEROES

On the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, we take a moment to reflect on some of Hull FC's heroes that went to battle in WWII, some of whom, like many, never returned.

The Black and Whites have a long standing affinity with the armed forces. Former captain John 'Jack' Harrison became the first ever sportsmen to receive the Victoria Cross and Military Cross during WWI, whilst other notable club names to go into national service include Johnny Whiteley and Clive Sullivan.

More recently, the club's links with the military have been strengthened by modern day links with Phoenix House at Catterick, the centre helping to rehabilitate injured servicemen, as well as the Light Dragoons at Swanton Morley, regular supporters of the Hull FC's Armed Forces fixtures and hosts of pre-season training camps for the first-team.

70-years ago, around the time of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy, many sportsmen had turned their backs on their jobs and sporting careers to stand up and fight for their country.

The match day programme dated the 1st September 1945 welcomes back players such as Ernie Wray, a released prisoner of war, and Harry Wilkinson, who served with the RAF.

Other names to be mentioned included Robert Taylor, Freddie Miller, Laurie Barlow (awarded the Military Medal) and Laurie Thacker, the latter who served with the Parachute Regiment.

The programme also referred to 'others', some of whom were to never play in the irregular hoops again.

Two members of the 1935-36 Championship winning team sadly died during the conflict. Ernie Roberts passed away a few days after his discharge from the army in 1943, whilst Jack Dawson died in active service with the RAF.

Harold Ellerington, a tourist in 1936 and later a Director at the club in the 1950's, was a casualty of the war too after losing a leg in a railway accident.

Some players did return to the team, with the likes of Thacker and Jack Holt both returning to action in December 1945, whilst Bernard Spamer and Charlie Booth returned shortly after having been demobbed a year later.

There is no evidence to hand or recordings of any Hull FC players taking to the beaches at Normandy on D-Day itself, but with the men of 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, making up just a small part of over 30,000 men that landed on the beaches that day, it is highly likely.

Our neighbours Hull Kingston Rovers were also affected during WWII, actually packing up at the end of the 1939-40 season and they too had strong representation in the services during this period.

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