Whitley Bay Rockliff’s Tribute to the Fallen

Whitley Bay Rockcliff RFC War Memorial

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No one knows when -or how- the original Whitley Bay Rockcliff RFC War Memorial disappeared until a group of members looked for it unsuccessfully some years ago.

As everyone who has been involved in Rugby, even ephemerally, knows the fierce rivalries and lifelong friendships the game engenders, it was felt that it was important that those teammates whose names had been forgotten should be commemorated fittingly by the present generation- and those yet to come.

Initial research uncovered the names of four WBR men who had made the ultimate sacrifice and a group of Whitley Bay Rockcliff members visited Ypres in 2021 to pay their respects on behalf of the club.

Painstaking and time-consuming work thereafter by Richie Bloomfield, Eric Brooks and Micky Knott revealed a total of fourteen names of players who fell in the Great War of 1914-18.

Methodical research analysed press team listings in pre-war years and identified those absent when Rugby resumed at the end of the hostilities. These were then cross-referenced against press reports, casualty lists and rolls of honour to establish their fates. Further research established the story of their lives, their rugby backgrounds and the circumstances of their death.

A new Memorial was therefore commissioned to commemorate all those from WBR who perished in conflict and its official unveiling preceded the Poppy Day Challenge match against Hartlepool Rovers on the 4th of November – a match developed with the British Legion for a trophy played for at WBR’s nearest home game to November 11th.

Poignantly, encapsulated within the new memorial is soil collected from the battlefield at the Somme and the names of those club members who fell in both World Wars are inscribed upon it.

The unveiling was carried out by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Ed McNaught with the blessing given by John Vilaseca (Vicar of St Paul’s W Bay). Sir Alan Campbell MP, Penny Stewart (RFU Council Member), Officials from the Royal British Legion, local Army Cadets and members from the Armed Forces alongside members of WBR and their guests were also present with boys & girls with photographs of each of the WW1 fallen were from the Age Grade section of WBR from U6 to Colts.

WBR will remember them.

Team of the Month

In conjunction with the Newcastle Falcons, to whom we are indebted for their continuing support, Northumberland’s Team of the Month entries are now open for September and October -so if your club or team has had success or achieved something special on – or off the pitch- we want to know!

For the chance to win twenty tickets to a Falcons match of choice, please send your entry, preferably with photos, to deangray@northumberlandRFU.co.uk

but you had better be quick as we will be shutting entries soon!

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