The Final Whistle : The Great War in Fifteen Players, Paperback Book

The Final Whistle : The Great War in Fifteen Players Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


This is the story of fifteen men killed in the Great War.

All played rugby for one London club; none lived to hear the final whistle. Rugby brought them together; rugby led the rush to war.

They came from Britain and the empire to fight in every theatre and service, among them a poet, playwright and perfumer.

Some were decorated and died heroically; others fought and fell quietly.

Together their stories paint a portrait in miniature of the entire war. Founded in 1879, when British soldiers fought in Afghanistan as they do today, Rosslyn Park has no war memorial.

An old press cutting gave numbers - 350 served, 72 died - but no names.

So began a quest to rediscover these men and capture their lives, from their vanished Edwardian youth and vigour, to the war they fought and how they died.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, 40 Illustrations, black and white
  • Publisher: The History Press Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: British & Irish history
  • ISBN: 9780752499000



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This is an interesting way of looking at the Great war. The rugby club, Rosslyn park, was founded in the 1880s. At the end of the first war, there was a note in the minutes of how many club members who had served and been lost. No list of names, no memorial. This book aims to put names to those who didn't return. It takes 15 of them, and tells their stories. They all played for the club (as well as representing numerous national teams at the same time) yet none of those in this book returned. There are deaths in all the major theatres of the war, including on the home front. It doesn't shy away from the death by his own hand due to shell shock, which is often overlooked in the war - the mental impact of it. In that sense it is a more rounded presentation of the war than others, it doesn't concentrate on the western front, they're not all decorated. It's interesting, but I think there's a different point of view that I find uncomfortable with. Yes, there were a number of men who never came back, but there were a large number who did. They suffered and often continued to suffer to their deaths, in some cases many decades later. What makes the death of one man more worthy than the survival of others?

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