Leeds Rhinos: remembering players killed in two world wars
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A memorial stone at AMT Headingley commemorates Leeds players who died in action during the first world war. Of the 51 who served in that conflict, 16 were killed. That fatality rate of 31 per cent is far higher than the 12.5 per cent of British forces who perished between 1914 and 1918.
Among the dead being being commemorated on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday is Samuel William Jarman, one of only five men to play for Great Britain as both back and a forward. Known as Billy, Jarman was one of three members of the Lions’ 1914 touring side, which won the Ashes in Australia, to be killed in action.
Born in Leeds, he scored 35 tries and four goals in 148 games for Leeds from 1908 to 1914. A member of the first Leeds team to win the Challenge Cup, in 1910, he was killed at the Somme on August 16, 1916.
Three Leeds players died on the first day of that battle, Welsh centre David Harkness Blakey, forward Joseph Pickles from Selby and Newcastle-born prop Joseph Henry Hopkins. All three were highly rated when they made their debut in 1914; Blakey played 10 times for Leeds and the other two did not reach double figures.
Their bodies were not recovered, but Blakey’s remains were unearthed during road construction work 97 years after his death. Identified by a homemade identity tag, he was reburied with full military honours.
Among other first team players killed during World War One were centre Belfred Ward and Welsh scrum-half Jimmy Sanders. Ward was signed in 1914 from Featherstone Rovers and scored one try in 16 appearances.
Sanders made his Leeds debut in 1909 and was a member of their first Challenge Cup final side the following year, alongside Jarman. He was injured in the final, which was drawn and missed Leeds’ victory in the replay. He scored 28 tries and three goals in 183 games for Leeds.
The club’s most well known casualty of the second world war was Welsh stand-off Oliver Morris, who played for Llanelli and Pontypridd before heading north to join Hunslet in 1937. He played for Hunslet in the 1938 Championship final against Leeds at Elland Road and moved across the city the following year. The transfer fee included an agreement for Leeds to pay an extra sum if war did not break out within a specific period.
He scored 44 tries and 33 goals in 61 appearances for Leeds, playing in their 1941 and 1942 Challenge Cup final victories, but was killed in action in Italy on September 21, 1944, aged 27.
Also killed in World War Two was Leeds-born scrum-half Les ‘Juicy’ Adams. He played 109 times for Leeds before joining Huddersfield and was a Castleford player when war was declared.
He was a Challenge Cup winner with all three clubs. A rear gunner in the RAF, he died when his aircraft was shot down over Burma in 1945.
Commemorated on the memorial at Headingley are: Sidney Clifford Abbott, HE Bannister, David Harkness Blakey, L Farrar, J Harkness, Joseph Henry Hopkins, Samuel William ‘Billy’ Jarman, Leonard Leckenby, Arthur Llewellyn, N Parker, G Pickard, Joseph Robert Pickles, James Sanders, B Thorpe, Belfred Ward, GR White.