Book honours the heroes of Kingsholm and country
THEY spilled blood on the hallowed ground at Kingsholm before making the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of war-torn Europe.
Now, 40 of Gloucester's respected players killed in action have been commemorated in a book and on a prominent plaque on the stadium's walls.
Relatives of Cherry and Whites heroes from the met yesterday in Kingsholm's Legends Suite to remember loved ones lost at war.
Among them, Bryan Mabbett, 87, of Charlton Kings, remembered his brother, Sergeant Pilot Sydney Mabbett, who died after his Spitfire was shot down over northern France in the Second World War.
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Bryan was 15, so was not old enough to fight.
It was a hard year for his family, losing not only his brother but also his father, Robert, who died on his silver wedding day earlier that year.
He said: "Syd actually came to play rugby for Gloucester at he age of 17 but everybody knew the war was coming. He was finally based in Lincolnshire during the war.
"It wasn't his first time flying. He learned to fly at the old Staverton airfield before the war. He was shot down over France just after the Battle of Britain in 1941."
The book, Gloucester Rugby Football Club: A Place in Military History, tells the stories of the Gloucester players who fought and died for their country during the Boer War, the Great War and the Second World War.
It has been produced as part of Gloucester's Community Heritage Project and also remembers veterans who survived in all three wars .
Terry Short, 69, from Tuffley, whose grandfather Albert Cook fought in the Great War, said it was a privilege to see veterans commemorated.
He said: "The book has been exceptionally researched and I was one of the people who donated a lot of photographs.
"It's not only history, but Gloucester heritage and nobody can take those memories away."
The book was collated and written by Martin and Teresa Davies, who spent three years putting it together.
Martin, who has a masters in First World War studies, said: "It has become more than a project for me and my wife but something that has really inspired us."
A plaque remembering Gloucester's lost men was unveiled on the wall by the stadium's entrance. A minute's silence was held and a wreath was placed at its base.
Lieutenant-General Tim Evans, Commandant of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), said: "It is an honour and privilege to be a part of this unveiling for these men, who played for Gloucester, fought for their country and gave the ultimate sacrifice."