On Bank Holiday Monday, 3 August, 1914, Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France. Britain issued an ultimatum to the Germans to leave Belgian soil. That same day, Banstead’s 2nd XI played what was to be the club’s last fixture for nearly five years, when they faced Redhill ‘A’ at The Ring, on Earlswood Common. The talk in the field was probably of little else except war but there was still a game to be played.
Banstead won the toss and batted first. Despite the best efforts of their opening batsman, Roland Bentley, who carried his bat, the team were all out before lunch with a total of just 96 runs, Redhill’s F. Brown being the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 wickets for 13 runs.
Banstead dismissed Redhill’s top three cheaply but then Redhill’s Surrey player, E.H.L. Nice, dug in and gave ‘a fine display of clean hitting’, making a century and giving Redhill a lead after the first innings.
Redhill’s Brown took a hat-trick in the second innings, ending the match with 6 wickets for 23 runs, and Banstead could not do enough to save the match, losing a “splendid” game by 70 runs.
At 11pm the following day, Britain’s ultimatum to Germany expired. We were at war and the cricket season came to an abrupt close. The men of the club went to fight, some within days, others years later when conscription came in. The gentlemen of the 1st XI were commissioned as officers and the working men of the 2nd XI joined the rank and file. They served all over the world as well as on the Home Front.
At least seven of the 2nd XI players who played in that final match went on to serve overseas; four were killed, one was captured and the other two were wounded.
Banstead lost fourteen players and members in the war:
James William Alston, aged 41
Aubrey Alfred William Balchin, 19
George Samuel Blunt, 35
Percy Blunt, 28
Arthur Culver*, 36
Frederick George Davis, 21
Hugh Murray Forster, 32
Maurice Furse, 27
Harry Harden*, 29
Lionel Eustace King-Stephens, 37
Henry Jervois Ruault Maitland, 19
Charles Henry Reygate, 37
Archibald Gervase Tonge, 30
Albert Waters, 33
A roll of honour board in Banstead Cricket Club commemorates twelve of the fallen men; * denotes the two men not named on the memorial.
Redhill lost at least two (and doubtless many more) players:
Harry St Clair Chad, aged 34
Charles William Sanderson, 25
Merstham’s fallen include:
Herbert Frank Francis, aged 22
Wilfred Frank Rogers, 26
Reginald Courtenay Hulton Woodhouse, 25
On Friday 3rd August 2018, at 6pm, Banstead’s final peacetime game is to be replayed. Sadly, Redhill C.C. are no longer with us but Merstham now play at The Ring and so will be representing Redhill as well as honouring their own club’s war dead in the memorial Twenty20 game. A pre-game ceremony will include buglers from the Redhill Corps of Drums playing the Last Post. The weather is set fair, the bar will be open, the barbecue will be fired up and picnics are very welcome. Parking in Avenue Road and Court Road is limited and the nearest public car park is in the High Street, next to All Saints church. A commemorative booklet has been produced to mark the occasion.
If you are a relative of the fallen cricketers from either Banstead, Redhill or Merstham, we would love to hear from you.
We will remember them.