As Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, England Lacrosse has taken a delve into the archives to uncover the stories of the roles the lacrosse community played during the First World War.
As part of the collective effort, The Ladies Lacrosse Association were keen to offer their support and between 1915-17 set up yearly benefit matches to raise money for war charities.
The match in 1915 was played at Richmond Athletic Ground on 10 April; the England team played a team selected from Roedean School and others in aid of unspecified war charities with the match reported on in several national newspapers and watched by about 500 spectators in which England won 12-7.
The minutes of the General Meeting held on 17 July 1915 report that the proceeds of the match in aid of a war fund came to £35.
It was agreed that this should be increased to £40 and four charities were nominated to be in receipt of the monies: the Officers Families Fund, the Professional Classes War Relief Fund, the French Red Cross and the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service.
The General Meeting voted in favour of the monies being sent to the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service with £25 being given straight away to endow a bed for half a year and the remaining £15 to be given away later on.
In 1916 & 17, the England team then continued to play a match for the benefit of the London Units of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.
The 1916 match, played at Richmond Athletic Ground, on 15 April was against a combined team of players from Bedford and Dartford Physical Training Colleges in which England won 16-6.
In 1917 the England team played Scotland at Richmond Athletic Ground on 31 March and monies raised were sent for the upkeep of the bed endowed in the previous year, again won by England 12-5.
A total of £50 was sent to the London Units of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service to endow a bed at the Royaumont Hospital in France.
The remarkable part of this story, illustrating the true worldwide involvement during the Great War, comes from the thank you letter received by the Association from the hospital.
The letter reports that the bed at the hospital was taken by a wounded soldier named Ali Ben Hassan, from Tunisia.
Ben Hassan was wounded on 1 July 1916 at the Somme, the very first day of battle and known as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army.
The letter, in full below, received by the Ladies Lacrosse Association details the harrowing situations the young man had been involved in and the devastation caused that tore families apart all around the world.
All the above information has been kindly provided by Karen Davies, curator of the Levick-Boyd Women’s Lacrosse archives.
The archive is always looking for new donations of lacrosse history and memorabilia and can be contacted about the archive collection at firstname.lastname@example.org.