FOOTBALLERS WHO NEVER RETURNED FROM WAR
They truly were the ultimate heroes – the 115 VFL (now AFL) footballers who never returned from war service. Now, for the first time, their stories have been told in the remarkably moving book Fallen, by football historians Jim Main and David Allen.
Fallen is a magnificent tribute to the men who made the supreme sacrifice despite being football heroes. And their stories are tragic indeed. For example, South Melbourne’s Jack Turnbull never saw his only son and was killed in France during World War I after yearning to see his family again. Melbourne champion Joe Pearce was killed in the Gallipoli landings and Geelong's Joe Slater, who was recently named in the Cats Team of the Century, marched into battle in WWI and was never seen again.
Melbourne lost no less then four of its 1940 premiership team – Ron Barassi Snr., Harold Ball, Syd Anderson and Keith “Bluey” Truscott in World War II. Len Thomas, who resigned as captain-coach of North Melbourne to join the army, was killed during service as a commando.
From the Anglo-Boer War, in which Essendon’s Charles Moore and Fitzroy’s Stanley Reid were killed, through both World Wars, league footballers heard their country’s call and made the ultimate sacrifice.
Fallen, which took five years to research and write, tells of these heroes’ lives and their untimely deaths, with hundreds of original photographs, most of which have never previously been published.
Fallen will be one of the most talked about books of 2002 and is a timely and superbly fitting tribute to the Ultimate Heroes.