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  • Christina Drummond

Gunner Edwin Gladstone Latheron, 75th Battery, 5th Brigade, the Royal Field Artillery

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Gunner Edwin Gladstone Latheron, 75th Battery, 5th Brigade, the Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action at Vlamertinghe in the Third Battle of Ypres.

Known as a gifted footballer, after leaving school he played for Grangetown in the Lancashire Combination League; then he went on to play as an inside forward for Blackburn Rovers, helping them to win the Football League title in 1912 and 1914; he made two appearances for England in 1913 and 1914. Gunner Latheron was known affectionately as Pinky because of his red hair and ruddy cheeks.

He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1916, and was posted to No. 2 Depot in Preston, Lancashire. His reputation as a gifted footballer went with him, and he took part in an inter-county match between Lancashire and Yorkshire-based army sides. On Christmas Day in 1916, he played in a fundraising match, in front of 4,000 spectators, between a Preston military team and Bolton Wanderers at Burnden Park – shortly afterwards he was sent with the 75th Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, to the Western Front.

In October of 1917, the brigade was part of the artillery support for the first assault on the village of Paschendaele. British guns were bogged down in the mud and were low on ammunition; heavy losses had been sustained due to German counter-battery fire, one of those killed in action was Gunner Latheron. The Liverpool Echo reported his death, quoting from a letter written by one of his Blackburn Rovers teammates, Alex McGhie, who served with him: “A shell burst near their dugout and the splinters, passing through the opening, killed Latheron and another gunner. Latheron was happy and strong and was a tremendous worker, and if anybody has done his bit in this war it is he. We were going out of action tomorrow, and intended to have a good time.” He is buried in the military cemetery at Vlamertinghe near Ypres.

Edwin, from Carlin How near Middlesbrough, was 29 years old and married with a son.

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