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Major Booth

August 1 2017 at 12:41 AM

john gill  (Login johngi)

I have read this poem today in Herbert Sutcliffes book For England and Yorkshire,
and thought it would be of interest to the White Rose Forum readers.
Far from sound of bat and ball,
O`er the seas,at country`s call,
Charging in the jaws of hell!-
Leading on his pals he-fell!
Gallantly he played his part!
The`White Rose`mourns a noble heart
Poor old Major.
Cricket field,or battle plain,
He e`er went in might and main!
Things going hard, smooth or rough,
Made of good old Yorkshire stuff,
Major,he was e`er the same,
Kept his end up,played the game!
Good old Major.
When the war is o`er and done,
When the victory is won!
When once more the umpires call,
Starts the``White Rose``county`s ball,
Though thy face will ne`er be seen,
Still we`ll keep thy memory green-
Dear old Major.
Pudsey July 25th 1916.

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Steve C
(Login stevecowton)
Assistant Moderator


August 1 2017, 8:39 AM 

I think he was The Somme rather than Paschendale but very timely none the less.
How many other players did we lose in World War One..?

(Login ThirdUmpire)

Re: Major Booth

August 1 2017, 9:04 AM 

Think there is a plaque at headingley but a quick look on wiki tells me Fairfax Gill was another Yorkshire player who died in WW1

Gavin Gray
(Login yorkie1863)

Re: Major Booth

August 1 2017, 11:05 AM 

That is a lovely poem.

(Login BrickyardBoy)

Re: Major Booth

August 2 2017, 8:25 AM 

Many thanks for posting the poem, John. Booth "went over the top" in one of the earlier waves of assault on the first Day of the Battle of the Somme and sustained what resulted in fatal injuries. In a later wave of attack on that day, Booth's Yorkshire team-mate, Abe Waddington, by coincidence, took shelter in the shell-hole in which Dear Old Major lay dying. Recognising his friend, Waddington cradled Booth in his arms to the last and then had to leave him where he had expired. Booth's remains stayed in the shell-hole until the following year (1917) when they were buried in Serre Road Cemetery No. 1. One can only imagine what an awful state those remains were in after the privations of a winter's weather and the attentions of vermin.

Terrible times, which we must continue to remember, lest we fall again into the excesses of unlimited nationalism which resulted in the conflicts of the past such as the horror of 1914-1918. Heroes, such as Booth, deserve attention, not because their deaths were glorious. They were not; they were ghastly. Focusing on their plight makes us see the futility of pitching man against the mincing machine and demands that self-seeking is set aside in search for the common good. That is what Waddington did. He gave comfort to the dying, at considerable risk to himself.

This message has been edited by BrickyardBoy on Aug 12, 2017 8:54 PM

(Login Cusworth)


August 2 2017, 8:57 AM 

Thank you Brickyard Boy. Wonderfully expressed. I couldn't agree more.


Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)

Re: Major Booth

August 2 2017, 10:20 AM 

I agree with all the anti-war sentiments. Here's another poem, written as WW2 was looming I think. The 'empty, scheming men' who would take us to war again must also include women, nowadays.

Will it be so again
That the brave, the gifted are lost from view,
And empty, scheming men
Are left in peace their lunatic age to renew?
Will it be so again?

Must it be always so
That the best are chosen to fall and sleep
Like seeds, and we too slow
In claiming the earth they quicken, and the old usurpers reap
What they could not sow?

Will it be so again –
The jungle code and the hypocrite gesture?
A poppy wreath for the slain
And a cut-throat world for the living? That stale imposture
Played on us once again?

Will it be as before –
Peace, with no heart or mind to ensue it,
Guttering down to war
Like a libertine to his grave? We should not be surprised:
We knew it happen before.

Shall it be so again?
Call not upon the glorious dead
To be your witnesses then.
The living alone can nail to their promise the ones who said
It shall not be so again.

Cecil Day Lewis

(Login Dewsburian)

Re: Major Booth

August 3 2017, 1:18 PM 

If anyone fancies a quiz question today, how about "Which Yorkshire residence connects Major Booth with David Bowie?"

(Login ThirdUmpire)

Re: Major Booth

August 3 2017, 2:09 PM 

Found it but admittedly with some googling so won't spoil yet for others.

(Login ThirdUmpire)

Re: Major Booth

August 3 2017, 8:56 PM 

Well. No other interested so the link is a house whose name I've forgotten in Pudsey/Bramley where Bowies great grandparents lived and another resident before them was Booths parents.

Town End House I think

(Login Dewsburian)

Re: Major Booth

August 3 2017, 10:25 PM 

Town End House on the borders of Pudsey and Bramley provides the link. All the sources say the Booth family lived there at some point, though the 1891 census has them living at 22, Lowtown, Pudsey, when Major was four years old. Whether 22 Lowtown was actually Town End House or a nearby property (other sources say Town End House was "no. 9 Lower Town Street") I can't say. Today Town End House bears the address 251 Swinnow Road and is a Grade II listed building (Swinnow Road is a continuation of Lowtown in the direction of Bramley).
The Birstall-born James Booth, Major's father, was a grocer in Pudsey, where Booth's Yard (off Lowtown) seems to have been named after the family business. There is an Old Booth's Tea Rooms there, though whether that really has anything to do with the family or not, I don't know. It gets glowing reviews on Trip Advisor. There's also an Italian restaurant called Tino's, though I don't think our friend from the Caribbean is involved.
Bowie's grandfather Robert Haywood Jones, born in Armley in 1882, also lived at Town End House. He enlisted in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1916 and was killed towards the end of the Somme campaign. He was survived by two children: Roma and Haywood Stenton, commonly known as John. "John" Haywood Stenton Jones, who had a colourful life which seems to have involved the squandering of a sizeable fortune in ill-fated entertainment ventures, was Bowie's father.

I should add congratulations to Third Umpire. You are clearly a "star man".

This message has been edited by Dewsburian on Aug 3, 2017 10:41 PM

(Login ThirdUmpire)

Re: Major Booth

August 4 2017, 6:57 AM 

And we shouldn't forget Bowies contribution to cricket related songs.

Ashes to Ashes
Modern (Jim) Love
ChinAman Girl

(Login Dewsburian)

Re: Major Booth

August 4 2017, 10:29 AM 

It just occurs to me that this connection seriously raises the question whether the "major" in Major Tom was actually a military rank or just another given name. We may never know...

I've now seen material which suggests the Booths lived successively at the shop in Booth's Yard, then Hammerton House, then in 1910 at Town End House, though the person who posted this on the Internet also suggests that the Booth's Yard shop and Hammerton House were just two names for the same building. Life is complicated. Anyway, it seems certain they lived at Town End House - and that Bowie's granddad did too. It's still there - on Swinnow Road, very near where Pudsey Congs now play their cricket.

(Login BrickyardBoy)

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 11:57 AM 

Reading about Abe Waddington this week, I discovered that he did not play his first game for Yorkshire until after the First World War in 1919, when he was 26 years old.

Obviously, therefore, he and Major Booth never played together for the White Rose County, and this in turn means that my description of them as being team-mates is inaccurate, at least for Yorkshire.

Furthermore, it begs the question of just how well they knew each other before Waddington joined Booth in the shell hole on the Somme.

Both came from the Bradford area; Booth from Pudsey and Waddington from Clayton, so it is possible that there could have been an association between them resulting from that background.

I suppose that they might have known each other through cricket connections. Waddington would have been 21 in 1914, and possibly, already a coming force in the cricket world. Obviously, Booth, by then, was an established Yorkshire player.

A further coincidence is that Major Booth was best man at Roy Kilner's wedding and Abe Waddington was a pall-bearer at is funeral.

Can anyone throw further light on these relationships?

This message has been edited by BrickyardBoy on Aug 12, 2017 8:53 PM


Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 12:41 PM 

Well done, guys. This sort of stuff makes WRF a delight. (Even if you can't stand Bowie.)

Anthony Bradbury
(Login buckhursthill1)

Major Booth

August 12 2017, 5:58 PM 

I can offer one tenuous clue as to how Abe Waddington knew Major Booth. The History of Yorkshire CCC 1903-1923 by A W Pullin states on page 153 that in August 1914 Abram Waddington played one match for the Yorkshire Second XI ( no other detail given). So it is possible that Booth and Waddington had met at the nets or in general practice in that last summer before WWI.

(Login BrickyardBoy)

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 8:37 PM 

Thanks for that, Anthony.

So Waddington was on Yorkshire's radar by 1914. It would seem likely, therefore, that he would be known by and would know other members of the Yorkshire playing staff; particularly a fellow Bradfordian.

Interestingly, Roy Kilner actually joined-up in the same PALS regiment with Major Booth, but was prevented from taking part in the offensive which proved fatal to Booth, because he had sustained a shrapnel injury to his wrist immediately prior the push. He was returned to "Blighty" to recover and was, subsequently, posted to Preston Barracks, where he spent the rest of the war working as a motor mechanic.

Clearly, all three of them; Booth, Kilner and Waddington were on the Somme at the same fateful time and, I suppose, it is not too surprising if this resulted in the establishment of a bond between Waddington and Kilner after the war was over and they found themselves playing in the same Yorkshire side.

My readings also inform me that Waddington, a mercurial character if ever there was one, suffered with depression after return to civilian life, and struggled with memories of the dying Booth for the rest of his life.

Another point of interest is that after retiring from County Cricket, Waddington went to play for Accrington in the Lancashire League, where he was their professional in 1929 and 1930. Their professional in 1927 had been Hedley Verity.

It seems eerily appropriate that these cricketing soldiers rubbed ethereal shoulders in such evocative ways. The Accrington PALS Regiment was one of the regiments most badly damaged by death and injury on that same opening day of the Battle of the Somme upon which Booth died.

This message has been edited by BrickyardBoy on Aug 12, 2017 10:02 PM

(Login WibseySimon55)

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 9:19 PM 

Thanks for all this. Fascinating.

Only tuppence-worth I can add is that it's not likely that someone from Clayton and someone from Pudsey would consider themselves neighbours/Bradfordians. Long way from one to t'other in those days.

(I speak as a Wibsey man, for whose forebears 'going in with Bradford' was the major political issue of the immediate pre-WW! years. Resolved when St Enoch's Road was built)

(Login BrickyardBoy)

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 9:31 PM 

Thanks for that, WibseySimon.

I suppose when I referred to Booth and Waddington being Bradfordians, I was thinking along the lines of Bradford League Cricket as a potential meeting ground. I know that Booth was associated with Pudsey St Lawrence and I think that Waddington played for Laisterdyke.

(Login StuartRA)
Assistant Moderator

Re: Major Booth

August 12 2017, 9:54 PM 

Thanks John, for starting this thread and we are looking at your "access" problems and hope to resolve it soon.

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