Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Lance Corporal Philip Charles Furneaux, 17th (Service) Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment, was reported as missing and presumed killed in action during the Battle of Arras on the Western Front.
His battalion was formed in December of 1914, as part of the Pals Battalion scheme, and was known widely as the Footballers’ Battalion, having a core of professional footballers, among their number being Second Lieutenant Walter Tull. In response to suggestions at the outbreak of the Great War that footballers should continue to play for the sake of public spirit, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle publicly objected and put out an appeal for professional players to volunteer for service. He said “if a footballer has strength of limb, let them serve and march in the field of battle".
The 17th Battalion saw action during the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme. They suffered the loss of over a thousand men, that number including 462 in the Battle of Arras, during which Lance Corporal Furneaux was reported missing and presumed killed. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial at the Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery in France.
Philip, from Hackney in London, was 19 years old.