The Royal British Legion is calling on the Nation’s golfing organisations, associations, clubs, teams and individuals to commemorate the role played by golfers on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
The campaign, called Sport Remembers the Somme 1916-2016, was officially launched at The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers headquarters, Tower of London last week 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.
Sport Remembers, which is attempting to unite sport in remembrance, launches with the backing of The R&A, Professional Golfers’ Association, the European Tour, the Ladies’ European Tour and the Home Unions of England, Scotland and Wales.
The Battle of the Somme, which ran from 1st July – 18th 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 for the duration 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.
The Legion is now encouraging professional and amateur golfers to join in the commemoration of the service and sacrifice made by the Nation’s sportsmen during the Battle of the Somme. Each Club is being invited to register for their own Sport Remembers toolkit at www.britishlegion.org.uk. Information is also available through golf’s national network of support organisations. For Club Professionals through the PGA, for Club Secretaries and Managers through their own Members’ Association and for Club Captains and individuals through their National or County Golf Union. Further plans will be announced in the weeks ahead, following the Official Ceremony of Remembrance at The Thiepval Memorial on the 1st July 2016.
The charity has produced 100 Sportsmen of the Somme stories – including the story of Private Albert Tingey, a founding member of the PGA, who led the recruitment of the Niblick Brigade to go and serve the country. The Niblicks fought to the end of the war, regularly reinforced by pros, greenkeepers, caddies and clubmakers.
Many golfers have backed the initiative including many Ryder Cup captains of the past and major winners.Colin Montgomerie said “The Royal British Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign is very important to me personally and to the millions of golfers of all ages throughout this country. I am totally supportive of our golf community joining with other sports in remembering those who gave their lives 100 years ago. We enjoy a legacy of freedom today thanks to their sacrifices and they should not be forgotten”.
Sam Torrance said “The 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is a particularly poignant moment for everybody to stop and reflect on the enormous loss of life that occurred across entire communities throughout Europe during the First World War. I fully endorse the Legion’s Sport Remembers campaign and join together with all golfers throughout the UK and Ireland in remembering those Fallen, many of whom belonged to their local golf clubs. For our family, that also means the memory of the 58 Torrances who laid down their lives in the First World War in order that we can enjoy the freedoms we all take for granted today.”
Sir Nick Faldo said "The Sport Remembers effort recognizes the athletes who made historic contributions to our nation through service or sacrifice at the Battle of the Somme and during the First World War. It is an honour to be here today and represent our sport in salute of the golfers and associated professionals who will forever be remembered for their contribution to our national history through ultimate service to our country."
European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said "Sport in general is a tremendously unifying force and golf particularly so - you only need to look at the 36 nations whose countrymen have triumphed on our Tour since 1972 to see that. It is sobering to contemplate that many, if not all of these countries, will have lost loved ones in conflict over the years too, which is why The European Tour is proud to support the 'Sport Remembers Campaign"