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VE DAY | ITFC REMEMBERS

8 May 2020

On the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Ipswich Town pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Club representatives during the Second World War

Town had just got the season under way when War was declared on Germany on 3 September, 1939 and the Club announced it was suspending football at Portman Road.

The Supporters Association, representing nearly 10,000 fans, wrote to Captain Cobbold urging him to reconsider, with football continuing in other parts of the country.

Another statement was issued before the end of September which confirmed the earlier decision that 'it was decided in the interests of the Club to close down all operations at the Portman Road ground as and from 30th September, 1939’.

In light of the fact that Captain Cobbold was in the Army during the First World War, it is no surprise that he felt strongly that the Club should 'do it's bit' and this may explain why the wishes of the fans were trumped by duty to country.

A small number of Charity or Service matches continued to be played at Portman Road, including a 4-4 draw in June 1941 between an Ipswich Town XI and a Norwich City XI, but this was in name only as Town had ceased operating as a Football Club.

Bryn Davies signed up immediately – he had served in the Army before – and he and Fred Houldsworth were with the British Expeditionary Force in France. Tom Brown joined the Army, as did George Perrett, and as the War progressed so did many others.

Ossie Parry, the Club’s first professional player, joined the RAF and spent six years as a serviceman and Jackie Little signed up, also with the RAF, as a Physical Training Instructor.

Together with Mick Burns, who fought in North Africa and Italy, they returned to play for Town after the War, as did George Perrett who was involved in the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Centre-forward Fred Chadwick, top scorer for the Club in the 1938/39 season, joined the army and served in the Far East where he was captured by the Japanese at the Fall of Singapore and spent the rest of the War as a forced labourer on the Burma-Siam 'death' railway.

Other players also served in the forces during the War, including Tom Fillingham and Bob Smythe, Billy Dale and Charlie Cowie (Army), Ambrose Mulraney, Jimmy Wardlaw and Jack Connor (RAF) and George Price (Navy).

By 1943, the Club had debts of over £14,000 and the now Lieut-Colonel Cobbold didn’t want the Club to be burdened by debt when the War ended.

The choices were either to go into liquidation, which at the time would have meant dropping out of the Football League, or for the guarantors to clear the debt.

Cobbold alone provided over £11,000 and the other directors played their parts to ensure that Town were debt-free.

Cobbold wrote: "I assure you that if I am spared I shall endeavour to get the Club started again and producing reasonably good football as soon as possible."

Although Bryn Davies' career was ended due to injuries sustained in the War, no player lost their life. The same was sadly not true for two distinguished members of the board.

In the space of a few weeks in 1944, director Robert Cobbold died at Monte Piccolo in Italy and shortly afterwards, compounding the tragedy, his cousin and club Chairman Captain Ivan was killed whilst attending a service at the Guards' Chapel in London when a German V-1 flying bomb hit the building.

His uncle Philip Cobbold, in poor health himself, took over the reins at the Club having lost both his son and nephew, and guided Town until his own death two years later.

In a meeting held in December 1944, as the tide of the War was turning, the Supporters' Association voted to transfer the balance of their funds, around £700, to the Football Club to assist with repairs to the ground.

On 1 September, 1945, Ipswich Town once more took to the field at Portman Road, against Port Vale, sporting the same half-back line that played almost six years to the day previously on 2 September, 1939: Dave Bell, Matt O’Mahony and Jimmy McLuckie.

Pictured is D-Day veteran Bernard How, a Town season ticket holder for over 50 years having attended his first game in 1949, alongside Corporal Wayne Martin of RAF Honnington. 

Bernard and Wayne led the Club's tributes as Town marked Remembrance day in the FA Cup tie with Lincoln City at Portman Road in November. 

This article was originally published on 3 November, 2018, in the matchday programme for the league fixture with Preston North End.


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