For 100 years they had gone unnoticed, but 12 former Exeter Rugby Club players and officials were today officially remembered with a new commemorative plaque at Sandy Park.
The lives of the forgotten few were highlighted in a special memorial service which took place in a special Remembrance Service held at the stadium on ‘Armistice Day’.
For years, Exeter Rugby Club have proudly displayed within the County Suite a memorial plaque of the names of those former players who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Second World War. However, new information supplied to the club through local historian and club supporter Roy Hough unearthed a further 12 men associated with the Devon club who themselves never returned from the battlefields of the First World War.
Today, Exeter Chiefs players past and present, together with members of the public and leading club officials, formed the congregation for a special 40-minute service that was conducted by club chaplain Simon Atkinson.
As well as the unveiling of the new plaque, Exeter Rugby Club President Bob Staddon read out the names of all the former players and officials who had died during the two World Wars, chairman and chief executive Tony Rowe OBE laid a commemorative wreath, whilst Bugler Stephen Paxton of the Royal Marines Band sounded the 'Last Post' and 'Reveille'.
Mr Rowe said: "For some time we have displayed a plaque remembering those former players that died during the Second World War. However, we’ve since been made aware that there were also a number of old players and club officials who were killed during the First World War.
"The fact these forgotten people were not remembered anywhere at the club needed to be addressed, so I immediately commissioned a new plaque – on behalf of the club membership – to be produced and hung alongside that of those who died during the Second World War.
"The fact that this year is the 100th anniversary of war starting makes this latest discovery even more poignant. These servicemen were not only part of our great club, but they were young servicemen who were prepared to give their lives in battle. I believe the new plaque will not only be a fitting tribute to those forgotten comrades, but it will serve as a timely reminder to us all that there were a great number of people associated with Exeter Rugby Club who must never be forgotten."
WORLD WAR ONE
WORLD WAR TWO