Fleetwood Town unveil plaque former player and war hero

Private Sheard Salthouse who died at the battle of Fresenberg, Ypres
Private Sheard Salthouse who died at the battle of Fresenberg, Ypres

Fleetwood Town unveiled a plaque to honour former player Sheard Salthouse who was the only member of the entire 1914 playing squad that signed up to fight to lose his life in the First World War.

All 14 of the Fleetwood Town FC playing squad signed up for battle in August 1914 but miraculously only one, Private Sheard Salthouse, is known to have died.

Salthouse was a member of the Royal Lancaster Regiment and was killed in action in Frenzenberg, Belgium in the Second Battle of Ypres on May 4 1915.

The Fleetwood player was born in 1889 and died aged 25, leaving behind wife Eleanor and son Sheard junior who was just five months old.

His cousin from Fleetwood Hall S Salthouse died a day later in the same battle aged just 20.

Despite leaving to go to war the football did not stop for Salthouse.

The Gazette printed at the time: “In the fierce fighting which raged on Wednesday last, (May 4) the 5th Kings Own Territorials took a prominent part and naturally the casualties are numerous.

“Two are cousins. Pte Sheard Salthouse of 17 Blakiston Street is 25 years of age and has left a widow and a child five months old.

“He was for a couple of years a messenger boy at the Gazette News office in Fleetwood and then left to go into his own trade as a plumber at Messrs J Preston and sons.

“He spent four years with the Territorials and at the outbreak of war he rejoined the 5th Kings Own.

“He was an enthusiastic footballer and was in the winning team in last year’s medal competitions.”

Capt Bainbridge wrote to his parents saying he was killed at Frezenberg while bravely doing his duty

“‘Words cannot describe how sorry I am for your loss. He had many friends among us and he will be sadly missed.’”

Sheard is the only known player to have died fighting on the Western front but the other 13 are believed to have survived, representing the Royal Lancaster Regiment, the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Field Artillery.

One of the 13 Private William Gibson did more than survive – he won the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal) for several acts of conspicuous gallantry during which he was shot five times.

Like Sheard, he joined the Royal Lancaster Regiment along with Frank Abbot Bugler, Harold Barnes, Charles Billsborough, William Gibson, Robert Miller, Richard Rigby, Arthur Singleton and Robert Singleton.

Fleetwood players James Brooks and James Croft joined the Royal Naval Reserve, Corporal William Anderton joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and James Strickland. joined the Royal Field Artillery.

Now 100 years on from the end of the war Salthouse has been honoured with a plaque at Fleetwood’s Poolfoot Farm training base.

The club held an open service today to unveil the plaque and commemorate those who lost their lives and served their country during the First World War.

The short memorial ceremony began at 12:15pm at Poolfoot Farm.

The Last Post was played and a two minute period of silence was also observed with senior club officials and local dignitaries in attendance.

A tree was also be planted on the day as part of the Woodland Trust, EFL and The FA’s For Club and Country project to the provide a living legacy to those who died during the war.