Some Worcestershire Regiment Footballing Heroes

“Inter-war sport was marked by competition with foreign teams, but such interaction also illustrated problems with the British focus on amateurism. By the 1930s, Belgian and French teams were far superior to British counterparts because these armies encouraged sporting development along professional lines. Both the Belgian and French armies, which enforced conscription, found their countries’ best sporting players serving time in the military, in which they were carefully groomed for competition. The British army, being a volunteer organization, could not compete against such rivals, and this conflict between professional and amateur sporting ideologies led to the British breaking off sporting relations with the French. But sports were a major draw for the British army, in terms of recruitment, against declining pay standards and limited promotion prospects. To support this attraction, the British forces increased funding for sports through non-public service funds, rather than forcing payment through games subscriptions or gate money.”

Sport and the Military: The British Armed Forces 1880-1960 (2010) by Tony Mason and Eliza Riedi, Cambridge University press.

Key Inter-war Regimental Footballers

  • Alfred Dalloway

Joining the Worcestershire Regiment in August 1919, 3 months before his 18th birthday, Alfred Dalloway would go on to spend the best part of 40 years with the regiment in various capacities. He has been noted to be “one of the most loved and loyal members of the regiment” there ever was.

Being one of the most renowned servicemen in the Regiment, Dalloway possessed many great attributes. Many of which helped him to excel at sports, especially football. Clearly passionate about playing the game, Alfred Dalloway gained a British Army cap against Belgium in 1930. Unfortunately, he could not inspire the team to victory as they suffered a 4-2 loss in London. This is no surprise however; as the inter-war period saw foreign armies surpass the capabilities of the British Army in sport. This was in part due to the British Army’s attempts to keep sport amateur and discourage the “evils” of professionalism. Foreign Armies were doing quite the opposite as teams such as Belgium had the best pickings of their country’s footballers due to conscription.

On Thursday 13th of March 1930, Dalloway put in one of his best performances playing “like a Trojan” to score two goals that would make his team win the Worcester Thursday Medals Competition. During this era “he was always scheming on the field of play to try to bring off a win even when a weak side was fielded.” This sort of mindset shows that he was aware of the other members of his team and their strengths or weaknesses and could adapt to differing scenarios.

The man affectionately known as simply “Curly” was praised highly by his associates for his sporting prowess. One description of him provides some insight into his qualities, stating that he was a “tower of strength” and excelled in “every form of sport”. His athleticism is noted on several occasions but his footballing aptitude shines off the pages of the regimental magazine with accounts of matches, such as the ability to have “tricked 3 opponents,” lay it off and clinch the assist in a match against Bromsgrove E.C. on the 11th of March 1937.

Often the Captain of representative Army sides on Malta and China, he arrived in Shanghai greeted by Colonel Pelly with the remark; “ready for football tomorrow Dalloway?” as he marched down the gangway of the boat. One could argue he had a sort of cult fame when it came to football within the Worcestershire Regiment. After being the 2nd Battalion’s resident captain for a decade, Dalloway found himself posted to The Depot in 1936. He had been with the 2nd Battalion in Dublin, Dover before becoming part of the British Army of the Rhine and then going on to Malta and China. When it was time for the 2nd Battalion to travel to India, Dalloway, now a sergeant was posted to the Depot.

Upon arriving at the Depot he made an instant impact in the 1936/37 season, where the team racked up 110 goals, winning 14 out of 20 games. Whilst only netting 2 goals, “great credit must be given to Sgt. Dalloway for the very capable way he captained the team” during this period. This was the best set of results The Depot had mustered since 1923. 

After the Second World War Dalloway rose to prominence as a Billiard and Snooker player, extending his sporting vocabulary even further, adding to his experiences with football, hockey and cricket from his time with the 2nd Battalion. Retiring from service after 18 years in 1938 after some leg trouble, he stayed on at Norton Barracks as Sgts Mess Caterer. Dalloway operated in that capacity until 1959 when the Depot was closed down.

  • Reginal Horton Couchman

The 10th March 1901 saw Reginal Horton Couchman enter the world. After leaving Sandhurst for Worcester in 1920, he would go on to serve for 9 years in the Regiment. He is one of the most important figures for football in the Worcester Regiment as when the “The Green ’Un” first took shape in 1922, it was Couchman that was responsible for the first set of articles headed “Association Football”. A true pioneer for the documentation of history. He gave his opinions on the various teams across the battalions, performance analysis and gathered the results. Although at times the information on football can appear sparse in the regimental magazine, it must be remembered that the only reason it is there initially is because of Couchman.

In terms of playing the game himself, he was perhaps Worcester regiments highest recognised player. With an impressive British Army cap record of 12 games, playing a total of 5 against both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The other 7 games were against the French and Belgian Armies. Not only is this impressive by British Army standards, as hardly any players got to play on that many occasions, it is remarkable for a solider in the Worcestershire Regiment. It is ironic that for such a prolific shooting regiment, one of Couchman’s earliest complaints in the Regimental magazine is “the weakness forward” and the use of the phrase “we cannot score goals” is rather a blunt and effective description of the team’s form at the time.  

In 1929 he transferred to the reserves and then the following year to the 1st London Rifle Brigade (TA) as a Captain. The 27th February 1937 saw Couchman become a Major. Throughout the Second World War he performed a few different roles and was eventually invalided out in 1944.

During his time with the Worcester Regiment, R.H. Couchman proved himself a stellar performer when it came to Athletics, most notably in 1928 when he was awarded a plaque for reaching Olympic standard in the Modern Pentathlon.  Championing the importance of fitness throughout his Army sporting life, he certainly had the wherewithal to back it up. A true credit and pioneer to the Regiment.

  • Arthur Temple Burlton

Born on the 10th March 1900 Arthur Temple Burlton was commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment from Sandhurst on the 15th December 1919. His first role was in the 4th Battalion in January of 1920 just before they were moved to Cologne in March where the Battalion engaged with BAOR activities. 1922 saw the 4th Battalion disbanded so Burlton was placed in the 2nd Battalion who were stationed in Dublin. Having spent 1927 to 1930 in Allahabad, it would seem that this would be the longest period of A.T. Burlton’s army career spent in one place. A very different scenario to his involvement in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. A loyal servant to the Worcestershire Regiment, gaining promotion in 1941 to become a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 10th Battalion. Burlton would eventually spend 24 years with the Worcesters. Upon leaving the 1st Battalion, it is noted that the group penned, “the loss to us can not be overestimated” in the Regimental Magazine in April 1936.

Marrying on the 16th November 1927 to Enid Doreen, Burlton had two Grandsons who would go on to serve in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoons.  

Before joining the Military Government of the British Army of the Rhine in 1945 and then retiring from the Army in 1948, Burlton had accomplished much in the way of sporting endeavour. A proficient boxer who often featured in bouts for the Army Officer’s Boxing Team. He is also the one responsible for chronicling the first few regimental boxing activities in the Regimental Magazine. A talented athlete, taking part in a variety of activities during his time with the 1st 2nd and 4th Battalions respectively, alongside proficiency in cross country. He occasionally partook in Hockey duties but in his own words only “when they were hard up” due to injuries and the like.

He was the 12th man in A.E.R Gilligan’s 1926/27 Army-n-India Cricket side. Demonstrating a serious passion for the sport of Cricket, Burlton founded The Mount Cricket Club in 1934 and “after the war killed the club, resurrected it in 1962”. A statement filled with pride. As the Regimental Magazine states, Burlton’s “record as a cricketer needs no emphasis”.

Arthur Temple Burlton was extremely proficient at football and was one of the most valued inter-war stars for the regiment. His “chief asset being the way he feeds his forwards,” a statement most likely thought up by and approved for publication by his good friend at the time, R.H. Couchman. A footballer “who plays with his head and works very hard,” a most perfect combination of work ethic and a footballing brain. These highly prized assets gained Burlton an international army cap against Belgium in 1924. Also in 1924, Arthur Temple Burlton was awarded his Regimental Colours for football, an honour that was no doubt prized as much as his other stellar achievements.

The Battle of Chillianwallah 13th January 1849

Fought during the Second Anglo-Sikh War, in the region of Punjab, now part of Pakistan. Although the battle may be considered a draw, it was a strategic check to Britain, and damaged British prestige in India.

When war broke out in the Punjab, which had recently lost much of its independence to the British East India Company following the First Anglo-Sikh War, in April 1848, the East India Company’s Commissioner for the Punjab, Frederick Currie, sent several forces of locally raised troops to help quell the revolt. The force led by Sher Singh Attariwalla also revolted and moved north to join his father, Chattar Singh Attariwalla in Hazara.

The East India Company ordered the formation of an Army of the Punjab under the veteran Commander in Chief, Sir Hugh Gough. On 18th November news arrived of the crossing of the Chenab by an army under Shere Singh. Gough dispatched a column up stream, which crossed, and marched down the enemy flank. The 29th Foot, having taken up a position with a battery on the British right, opened fire on the Sikhs to distract their attention from the outflanking troops, but the Sikh general was too wise to be caught and, breaking camp, retired to the north.

Shere Singh was now joined by Chattar Singh’s army bringing his strength to 30,000 against Gough’s 13,000. When the British closed Gough was, therefore, fairly cautious. The enemy were in positions at Chillianwallah stretching some six miles from the low hill at Rasul to Mung on the right. The country in front was mostly thick scrub and movement was difficult, but on the Sikh left in front of Rasul the approaches were fairly open. At 0700 hours on 13th January 1849 Gough advanced with the intention of forcing the enemy left flank, which task was given to Gilbert’s division. Mountain’s brigade with the 29th of Foot was on the right and on their left was Pennycuick’s brigade. Shere Singh, perceiving the British intention, seized a small mound near Chillianwallah causing Gough to alter the line of advance to the village. Nevertheless, he did not intend to assault until the next day.

Shere Singh was now joined by Chattar Singh’s army bringing his strength to 30,000 against Gough’s 13,000. When the British closed Gough was, therefore, fairly cautious. The enemy were in positions at Chillianwallah stretching some six miles from the low hill at Rasul to Mung on the right. The country in front was mostly thick scrub and movement was difficult, but on the Sikh left in front of Rasul the approaches were fairly open. At 0700 hours on 13th January 1849 Gough advanced with the intention of forcing the enemy left flank, which task was given to Gilbert’s division. Mountain’s brigade with the 29th of Foot was on the right and on their left was Pennycuick’s brigade. Shere Singh, perceiving the British intention, seized a small mound near Chillianwallah causing Gough to alter the line of advance to the village. Nevertheless, he did not intend to assault until the next day.

While the troops were piling their arms and unsaddling the horses Lieutenant MacPherson, of the 24th of Foot, climbed a tree and was appalled to see masses of turbans moving through the undergrowth. Bugles were sounded and the British took up their positions for attack. Moving up the guns Gough ordered the advance to commence at 0300 hours. As the advance passed through the thick undergrowth, it was subjected to heavy fire from the Sikh sharpshooters. This caused the orderly line to disintegrate into a series of small groups that, when they debouched into the open, came under the enemy artillery which poured grape into their ranks. The situation on the right was retrieved by the action of General Colin Campbell with the 61st and in the centre by Congreve who, seeing that the 29th were suffering from the fire of a particularly dangerous Sikh gun, charged it himself. Then commenced a struggle of the utmost ferocity. The Sikhs cast aside their matchlocks, and sword in hand fought desperately until overwhelmed.

The battle was by no means over. Pennycuick’s brigade had suffered heavily and the 29th were ordered to change front to cover the gap that had occurred. Congreve, noticing that the enemy was attempting to withdraw its guns, turned the 29th about and charged. Sikh cavalry were now seen moving up but checked their pace within 200 yards of the 29th. Every British firelock was brought up to the present and as they fired Sikhs dropped from their saddles and horses rolled over. Another volley completed the confusion and the survivors galloped away.

Reforming line the regiment continued to advance; meeting some Sikh infantry who were engaging Pennycuick’s men they charged. Six of the guns that had been supporting the Sikhs limbered up and got away, but the seventh turned round and, taking a shot at the colours, succeeded in clearing away every man around them. The gun was captured, however, and the gunners bayoneted; the gallant 24th who had taken the brunt of this action was saved further loss.

In this battle the centre of the Queen’s Colour was shot out and its bearer, Ensign Smith, was twice hit by bullets. This battle was the last occasion on which the colours of any battalion of the regiment were carried in action.

An obelisk was subsequently erected in memory of the British who lost their lives at Chillianwallah. Locally the battle goes by the name of ‘Katalgarh’, the House of Slaughter.

Battle of Chillianwallah

Battles of the Nive (9–13 December 1813)

After his defeat at Nivelles, Marshal Soult fell back to a defensive line south of the town of Bayonne along the Adour and Nive rivers.

Despite poor weather, Hill led five Anglo-Portuguese divisions (2nd (including the 29th Regiment), 3rd, 6th (including the 36th Regiment), Portuguese and Pablo Morillo’s Spanish Divisions) across to the east bank of the Nive near Ustaritz on 9 December. Meanwhile, the remainder of the British force under Hope launched diversionary attacks towards Bayonne on the west bank of the Nive.

Soult launched a counter-attack with eight divisions against Hope the following day, and despite several fierce actions the British line held until reinforced.

The right flank of Hope’s line was held by the 7th Division at the bridge of Urdains. The Light Division defended the centre near Bassussary. The left was held by Bradford and Campbell’s independent Portuguese brigades north of Barroilhet. The terrain forced the French into these three corridors of attack. The 5th Division lay three miles to the rear while the 1st Division were ten miles away.

Soult committed five divisions against Bassussary and three divisions against Barroilhet. The four divisions leading the attack were fresh while the supporting troops were tired from skirmishing with Hill’s troops.

The French advance soon came upon the ridge of Arcangues, topped by a chateau and a church. After one attack was beaten off with ease by the Light Division, the French settled down to a futile artillery bombardment and probing attacks against the very strongly built structures.

The picket line on Hope’s left flank was overrun by the French attack and 200 men captured. The Portuguese held onto Barroilhet and awaited reinforcements. The 5th Division arrived, but due to a staff blunder, was low on ammunition.

Soult sent two divisions to assist this attack. After hours of heavy fighting, he ordered one last charge. This attack drove to the mayor’s house of Barroilhet, the French skirmishers wounding and nearly capturing Hope. At this point, the 1st Division came up and Soult called off his attacks. Both sides had lost around 1,600 troops.

Battle of St. Pierre

On the night of 12 December, a temporary pontoon bridge over the Nive at Villefranque was washed away. This isolated Hill’s 14,000 men and 10 guns on the east bank of the river, just as the French were reorganizing for an assault.

Seizing his opportunity, Soult rapidly switched six divisions and 22 guns to the east bank of the Nive and attacked Hill. Soult outnumbered Hill’s corps by three-to-one. Defending a line between Petit Mougerre and the Nive, the Allied corps held on for hours in a bitter fight. The capable Hill performed superbly, feeding in his few reserves with skill and exhorting his troops.

However, after the arrival of reinforcements under Wellington, the French troops refused to continue the attack. Soult reluctantly retreated into Bayonne, having lost 3,000 men against Anglo-Portuguese losses of 1,750. The Allied army commander rode up to his subordinate and congratulated him, “Hill, the day’s your own.”

As a result of their courage on this day both the 29th and 36th Regiments were accorded the battle Honour NIVE.

An aquatint of the Battle of Nive 1813 by Heath from the Museum Collection.

Battle of Nivelle 10 November 1813

Aquatint of the Battle of Nivelle by W. E. Heath in the Museum Collection

Following the Allied victory at the siege of San Sebastian, Wellington’s 80,000 British, Portuguese and Spanish troops pursued the army of Marshal Soult into France. Soult took up a strong defensive position in front of the River Nivelle. At this point, the river’s course is marked by a series of hills on which the French had built strong defensive fortifications. Soult’s lines stretched from the shores of the Atlantic on the French right flank to the snow-covered pass of Roncesvalles on the left, a perimeter of about 20 miles. With only 60,000 men, Soult’s troops were stretched very thinly indeed.
The French position was dominated by the Greater Rhune, a gorse-covered, craggy mountain nearly 3,000 feet high. Separated from the Greater Rhune by a ravine, roughly 700 metres below it, is the Lesser Rhune along the precipitous crest of which the French had constructed three defensive positions.
Wellington’s plan was, to deploy his army along the whole of Soult’s line but, to make his main attack in the centre. Any breakthrough in the centre or the French left flank would enable the British to cut off the French right. The British left (attacking the French right) under Sir John Hope comprised the 1st and 5th Divisions as well as Freire’s Spaniards. General William Beresford would lead the main Allied attack against the French centre with the 3rd, (including the 36th Regiment), 4th, 7th and Light Divisions, while on the British right Sir Rowland Hill would attack with the 2nd (including the 29th Worcestershire Regiment) and 6th Divisions, supported by Morillo’s Spaniards and Hamilton’s Portuguese. Wellington decided to attack on 10 November.


The battle started just before dawn on the 10th November. The Light Division headed towards the plateau on the summit of the Greater Rhune. Their objective was the French Redoubts. The men of the 43rd, 52nd and 95th Regiments (with the 17th Portuguese infantry Regiment in support) advanced from The ravine below and stormed the redoubts on the crest of the Rhune. The boldness of this British move sent the French fleeing towards other forts on other hills.
While the 43rd and 95th were dealing with the French on the Rhune, there still remained one very formidable fort on the Mouiz plateau which reached out towards the coast. This was attacked by Colborne’s 52nd Light Infantry, supported by riflemen from the 95th. Once again, the French were surprised and fled, leaving Colborne in possession of the fort without a single fatal casualty.
Then, the main British assault began with the nine divisions fanning out over a five-mile front. When the 3rd division (including the 36th Regiment), took the bridge at Amotz, all French resistance broke as any communication between the two halves of Soult’s army was now impossible. By two o’clock, the French were in full retreat and were streaming across the Nivelle, having lost 4351 men to Wellington’s 2450.

Home Service Helmets

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Replacing the Shako in 1878 The Home Service Helmet was introduced into the British army as required headwear for the majority of British line infantry excluding the Fusiliers regiments.

The design of the Home Service helmet originates from the 1840’s when Foreign Service helmets were introduced Into the British army. Known as Pith Helmets, they offered great protection from the sun with a swept-back brim. The overall design of both helmets was inspired by the German Pickelhaube from the Franco Prussian War.

In the “Dress Regulations for the Army 1900” – The official War Office publication for dress regulations, it describes the Service Helmet as “cork covered with blue cloth, peaks front and back stiffened and covered with cloth. Front peak bound with metal 3/16 inch wide, back peak with patent leather 1/8 inch wide. Above the peaks going round helmet a cloth band”. It further describes the “Curb Chain chin straps 5/8 inches wide and strap lined with patent leather backed with black velvet” as well as the incorporation of a Bronze spike measuring 1 3/4 inches.

It is worth noting that the Spike on top of the helmet was replaced with a ball when worn by engineers, artillery and various administrative and other corps. Other adjustments to the helmet include the cloth of the helmet being made green for light infantry regiments.

Other Ranks wore an inferior quality helmet as the officers’ helmets were purchased privately. The main difference’s being the Other Ranks helmets being the quality such as the chin chain having only leather backing with no velvet. Other differences include, the brim being bound in leather all round, the cruciform base being one-piece and often only being attached by two lugs, the helmet plate being of brass rather than gilt and the spike being set into the cruciform base rather than sitting “proud” of it.
Located in the centre of the helmet was the Helmet plates, these consisted of three basic designs which were an eight-pointed star surmounted by a crown, for Rifle Regiments a Maltese Cross surmounted by a crown, and the Royal Coat of Arms. Similarly, with the helmet design the plates also differed for officers who had a three-piece construction consisting of a rayed backing star, the garter and wreath with a “universal” scroll for the regimental name, and a centre device.

In regard to The Worcestershire Regiment the helmet plate has seen various changes across the years. The original 29th regiment officers helmet plate which was used from 1878 to 1881 had a Gilt with the ’29’ on a black leather background in the centre of the Garter. Following the formation of the Worcestershire Regiment in 1881 which combined the 29th, 36th, Militia and Volunteers. The plate used the ‘Tower’ motif of the Militia, the star of the 29th and the motto ‘FIRM’ from the 36th. From 1890 to 1901 officers of the regiment used a helmet plate depicting the imperial crown at the top, this was later updated in 1901 to 1923 to depict the St. Edward’s crown instead.

With the general adoption of khaki for field dress in 1903, the helmet became purely a full-dress item, being worn as such until 1914.
The museum currently has 14 Home Service helmets within its collection compromising of various dates, two of which can be seen on display at the museum as well as a variety of helmet plates showing the progression of The Worcestershire Regiment.