The PGA is marking the anniversary of the Battle of Somme by pledging to find the names of any of its members killed in the fighting.
It follows the launch of Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016 – a campaign by the Royal British Legion which pays tribute to the sportsmen and women who gave their lives in the 141 day battle which claimed more than 1.1 million lives.
The Sport Remembers campaign was officially launched at The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers headquarters, Tower of London by sporting legends Sir Nick Faldo MBE, former world golf number one and six times Major Championship winner; England Rugby World Cup winner and former British Army officer Josh Lewsey MBE; England’s all-time record cap holder and former goalkeeper Peter Shilton OBE; Olympic gold medal winner Sally Gunnell OBE; and former England cricket captain Mike Gatting OBE.
Golf is represented in the campaign with statements of support from national golfing bodies including The PGA, The R&A and Home Unions.
Indeed PGA chief executive Sandy Jones was so struck by the campaign that he has moved to find out all the names of those who perished in the battle.
“The Professional Golfers’ Association and its 7,500 members who are based around the world joins with all other sporting bodies in remembering those who gave their lives in service to their country,” he said.
“An unknown number of PGA Professionals from all communities served their country in battle but were sadly never to return to their loved ones and friends at home.
“The Association is totally supportive of the Royal British Legion Sport Remembers campaign and is so inspired by this campaign that it has undertaken a commitment to find the names of those members who fell in battle and create a record of remembrance so that future generations will never forget the debt of gratitude that we owe to them all.”
A forthcoming commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will take place on the July 1 at Thiepval Memorial in France, some 120 miles from the Golf National in Paris which hosts the 100th French Open from June 30-July 3 and where the Ryder Cup will be hosted in 2018.
The British Legion hopes the support of The PGA and other golfing bodies will encourage the network of club members and golf clubs to respond positively to the campaign by remembering the ultimate sacrifices made by those in the Great War.
The Battle of the Somme, which ran from 1 July – 18 November 1916, was one of the most difficult and costly battles of the First World War.
To aid the war effort, virtually all professional sport had been suspended by the time the Battle of the Somme began. Athletes and players from sports at all levels had volunteered to enlist – sometimes en masse as an entire team and its supporters.
There were battalions made up of athletes, footballers, and individual clubs and teams. When these battalions suffered losses, as they did mostly at the Somme, the impact was felt at the club and community level.
The Legion is encouraging professional and amateur sport to join in the commemoration of the service and sacrifice made by the nation’s sportsmen during the Battle of the Somme.
The charity has produced 100 Sportsmen of the Somme stories – including the stories of 2nd Lt Alfred Edward Flaxman, an Olympian from Yorkshire who once threw a grenade 75 yards, Lt Kenneth Lotherington Hutchings, one of hundreds of first class cricketers who fought and fell at the Somme, and Captain Wilfred Percy Nevill from Twickenham who took footballs to the battlefield to bolster the morale of his platoons under withering fire.