Family of fallen Spurs hero found
11 November 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
The family of a former Spurs player who lost his life during one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War has been traced thanks to a partnership between the Club and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) - the organisation responsible for the commemoration of the dead of two world wars.
Born in Ayrshire, Archibald Wilson started out with Nottingham Forest and joined our junior staff in December, 1909, at the age of 18. However, there were doubts about the tricky winger making the grade and so he joined Southend United in the summer of 1911.
He did well there and continued his emergence as a quality player with Middlesbrough from July, 1914. When war broke out he joined the London Scottish Regiment and returned to guest for Spurs. After playing 10 games for us, he left for the Front where he was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was 26.
Archibald (pictured left) was one of two Spurs players - the other, Norman Wood - who died in the Battle of the Somme, one of the defining events of the First World War. More than 420,000 British and Empire soldiers became casualties over the 141 days of the battle.
Like many footballers of his generation, Archibald enlisted at the start of the First World War. In total, 14 former Spurs players paid the 'ultimate sacrifice' - George Badenoch, John Fleming, Fred Griffiths, Alan Haig-Brown, John Hebdon, Alf Hobday, John Jarvie, Ed Lightfoot, Harold Lloyd, Alexander Macgregor, Walter Tull, Findlay Weir, Archie Wilson and Norman Wood.
Archibald is commemorated by the CWGC on the huge memorial to the missing of the Somme at Thiepval in France.
The CWGC traced Archibald’s great nephew, Cecil Armfield, through an appeal on their social media channels. He was greatly pleased to discover that his relative was a superb footballer in his day.
“There was a photograph of him in my grandparents’ house when I was a young boy. He was dressed in football kit with a vertically striped shirt but as the photo was in black and white I assumed, as a child, that was the colour used by the football club.”
Spurs and the CWGC have been working together this remembrance time on the Living Memory Project – a nationwide initiative aimed at encouraging communities to discover, explore and remember the CWGC war graves in their local area.
Mousa Dembele recently supported the initiative at an event held at Tottenham Cemetery where he joined local primary school students, members of the community and the Spurs Supporters’ Trust in paying their respects to the war dead.
To find out more or how you can get involved visit www.cwgc.org.
CWGC would like to thank all those members of the public who responded so positively to this appeal.
FIND OUT MORE
Somme Salute - a special feature on Archibald, Wood and the men who fought at the Somme.
Lest we forget - John Fennelly looks at the Spurs players who made 'the ultimate sacrifice'.