1939 to 1940

Match reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale



Played 21 Won 4, Lost 13, Drawn 4. 126 193

+ Club commenced fixtures playing as Bath & Admiralty.



Rugby – Trial Match on the Rec.

“The idea, thrashed out by the officials with the Civil Service R.F.C. and others, is to try out two teams, chiefly composed of civil servants, in order to gather players to swell the depleted ranks of the Bath Rugby Club.” Bristol, Gloucester, Weston-super-Mare and other clubs were being asked for fixtures.


A good start had been made at the Trial on Saturday when the Whites beat the Colours by 11 points to 9. Several hundred people watched and many were impressed by the form of young winger, Hayman, who ran half the length of the field to score under the posts. Bath players who took part were W F Gay (the captain), R Banks, J Arnold, F Hayman, K Weiss, Derrick Wilson, Leslie Phillips and A Ash.

“More Rugby like it, please Bath!”





Early ‘pot boiler’ and nice weather attracted several hundred to the Rec.

Hayman was early in evidence with some canny running and agile side stepping led to a Wallis try. Arnold made a blindside break at top speed for a good score.

Ash had a clear run for his try, but the highlight was again provided by Hayman, “who thrilled the crowd with an amazing zig-zag run right through the whole side. With feint, subtle change of direction, in fact all the arts of rugby running , he camouflaged his steps and scarcely a finger was laid on him till he came under the posts, and then shook off his tackle to score.”


Selected Bath XV:- H Beer (Combe Down), S E Adlum (Shepton Mallett and Old Sulians), G Foster, G Blackburn (Wembley), F Hayman, J Arnold, A Chivers, F A Unwin, A Ash, L Phillips, G W A Keir (Bath and Cambridge), T Love (Clifton), B Wallis, K Weiss and D Wilson.


The Admiralty R.F.C. selection:- J M P Hooley, A Craig, K A Haddacks, T Oldland, M Arnott, D I Scanlaw, S L Gann, W O’Connell, H W G Brien, N W Jenkins, A W Holden, R Wiltshire, S L Green, J H Common and R Baker.


“There was an abundance of tries at Bath on Saturday, several of a glittering variety, but goal-kicking was sadly lacking.” The Bath side proved to be superior in all phases of the game. However, the Admiralty side scrummaged well and were effective in the loose. Forward, A W Holden caught the eye. Ten of the Bath team had played for the 1st XV. Flying Officer Bryan Wallace bagged a couple of tries for Bath and other forwards who went over Wilson, Ash and Phillips. Green and Brien obtained Admiralty tries

“That Rugby is needed in Bath in war-time was shown by the fact that a crowd of a thousand turned up on an all-pay basis.”

“Next Saturday there will be more Rugby, and Bath players home on leave are asking for an opportunity to turn out. Harris and Parsons are also credited with a desire for a game. So it the combined idea comes about, we shall need three or four sides to accommodate all the players. As a matter of fact, after the Bath v Admiralty affair on Saturday, two more fifteens took part in a trial, and many of the spectators stopped behind to see it.”




It is interesting to see the full, original selection, as it gives some idea as to which players were available and keen to play:-


Bath and Admiralty:- G Windsor, M Mc L Arnott (Civil Service), G Foster, J Arnold, F Hayman, A E Merrett, A Chivers, F L Green, J H Common (Glasgow University and West of Scotland), L Phillips, A W Holden (Civil Service), L Wiltshire (Wasps), B Wallis, T H Pratt and W F Gay (Captain).


Mr. McNamara’s XV:- A Wheal, M Evans, P Oldland, K A Haddacks (Captain) (Civil Service), A L Heath, T R Harris (Taunton School), J Parsons (Cambridge, Wellington School), A Ash, R Baker (Civil Service), F A Unwin, D Wilson, J Hodkinson, H W G Brien, N W Jenkins and K Weiss. Referee Mr. David Smith of Bath.

Reserves:- Hooley, Hayden, Campbell, West, Scanlan (Old Edwardians) and Yerbury.


B Wallis, the Bath & Admiralty wing forward cycled 5 miles in uniform to catch a train to Bath for this one. By coincidence, he was also gazetted on this day for promotion to Flight Lieut. Unfortunately, skipper Gay, was called away on Police duties. Curly Halse and Tommy Hicks were on leave and actually played for amended Mc.Namara’s XV “ and although they are newcomers to the Army, they speak very well of the life.”

R A Gerrard, R W James and L D Wardle, all old Bath players who were watching the match today, while on leave from their units, have all now the rank of captain.

The game proved to give excellent value and indeed served up “10 tries for a tanner,” and a goal thrown in!”

Tries for Bath by Hayman (2), Wallis, Scanlan and Arnold. Scorers for McNamara’s side were Evans (2), Heath, Baker and Weiss. “Half the tries were registered by wingers, which is as it should be. The pick of the scores were Hayman and Evans. The latter is a real find – fast, straight running and clever.”



Bath & Admiralty v Exeter, Home. Lost 9-20. Selected team:- G Winser, M Evans, G Foster, J Arnold, F Hayman, T R Harris, J Parsons, L Phillips, J H Common, L Wiltshire(Captain), D Wilson, A W Holden, A D Stephens, B Wallis and G Yerbury. Referee Mr. A Padfield of Bath. Attendance 2000.

Bath took a pasting. The pack missed “the ‘fire’ of a Gay, and the ‘dash’ of a Weiss in the back row.” “…….the Bath pack will have to be strengthened, and some players will have to learn the art of tackling all over again.” Roy Harris did all Bath’s scoring with two tries and a penalty goal, to Exeter’s 2 gaols, a drop goal and 2 tries. Harris and Parsons formed a fine partnership, but had the disadvantage of playing behind a mediocre pack.



v Stroud, Home. Lost 0-6 Reverend Glyn H Davies (a local Army Padre), of Cardiff, Pontypridd and Oxford Greyhounds; a Welsh Schools cap played scrum half for Bath. Bath included three policemen in Gay, Powles and Taylor, played in white.

Team: HTF Buse, M Evans, J Haddacks, F Hyden, F Hayman, A E Merrett, G H Davies, F A Unwin, G Taylor, G H Common, L Phillips, J Powles, B Wallis, W F Gay (Capt.), K Weiss.

Several Gloucester players reinforced the Stroud side. Hayman made promising runs but Bath efforts were snuffed out by resolute defence in an error strewn match. The losers suffered from the lack of a place kicker. Play was hard, but too scrambling and ragged. The two packs fought out a grim, but not scientific battle.



v Weston Super Mare, Home. Lost 3-8. Team:- H T F Buse, M Evans, A E Merrett, G Hyden, F Hayman, T R Harris, J Parsons, F Unwin, G Taylor, A Ash, J H Common, D Powles, B Wallis, L Wiltshire, W F Gay. Gate money was a very encouraging £40.

“Harris had not had the ball yet, but now he got a clean heel, a swift pass, and he was off like a hare, going through the opposition as if it did not exist. With swerve and feint and startling speed, he went right up to the full-back, passed to HAYMAN and a glorious try was secured in the corner.”

“The Captain” described it as a grand game: “More like that, please Bath, and we shall quickly forget the gap between pre-war football and its war-time successor!”

“Harris’s run was the thrill of the afternoon, and Hayman, by taking the final pass and going over deserved to be ranked in the same class.”


Bath United v R.A.F. Locking:- J Hodder, M L McArnott, K Holvey, J A Haddacks, J Foster, J Arnold, W O’Connell, G Yerbury, L Phillips, R Baker, D Wilson, R S Galton, K Weiss, F L Curtis, A D Stephens.

Bath ‘A’ v Oldfield Park:- A G Winsor, R D Blair, J M Hooley, R Banks, J Taylor, T Hicks, N Halse, E J Williams, P J Lowe, Lt. J H Joughlin, R.N., A Pryor, H M Partridge, N W Jenkins, P Boltwood and F L Gann


Bath’s first Away fixture during the War.


v Stroud, Away. Lost 3-25. Team:- H T F Buse, G Holvey, K A Haddocks, G Hyden, G C Foster, J Arnold, W O’Connell, A Ash, J H Common, F Unwin, D Powles, D Wilson, B Wallis, L Wiltshire (Capt.), A D Stephens “Bath’s pack shaped badly. It was ill-shaped and pushed erratically. Wilson was repeatedly exhorting the forwards to greater efforts, and some ignorant spectators seemed to misunderstand him.”

A previous exhortation had prompted one wag to shout out: “Go it Hitler!”. It was a pleasant enough game and a sizeable crowd were appreciative of any good play.

However, it turned on a lack lustre performance that saw Bath go down to 2 goals, 5 tries to a solitary try by Hyden. A commentator highlighted Bath’s weakness, as the inability of the wing forwards to cope with two swift moving half backs. Arnold, Hyden and Foster were the pick of the backs.



v  Bristol Supporters. Away. Lost 0-16. Selected Team:- H T F Buse, M L McArnott, G Griffiths, C Hyden, F Hayman, T R Harris, J Parsons, F A Unwin, J H Common, A Ash, W Barrow, D Powles, D Wilson, L Wiltshire and Gay.

T R Harris had been posted to an officer’s cadet unit and henceforth, might not be regularly available. The stand accommodation was no longer available as it was used as an ARP HQ. Attendance 500.

Players had to change some distance away, in the Civil Service Club.

Bath floundered in Memorial mud: “The forwards were pretty evenly matched, and Bath got a fair share of the ball, but there was not nearly enough thrust in the centre.”

Gwynne Griffiths, now a Radstock schoolmaster, had a fine game at outside-half. The three-quarters, however, were outplayed by the fast moving opposition. Gay, Powles, Barrow, Common and Unwin showed well in the forwards.


On this day the United played An Army XV. The composition of the Army side is worthy of note, as it contained a large number of ‘peacetime’ Bath Club players:-

ARMY XV:- Corpl. W R Brindle, Lieut. Brian Henson, Rev. G H Davies, Capt. R A Gerrard, Sapper C N Mason, Sapper Tommy Hicks, Sapper Norman Halse, L.Corpl. Heath, Corpl. K Wilcox, Corpl. J Book, Sappers Fricker, A Speke, Hathaway, R Ryan and R Savage.



v Gloucester, Home cancelled as pitch unplayable.



v Bristol Supporters, Home. Lost 0-13 Team:- H T F Buse, A Rees, C Foster, Gwynne Griffiths (ex Swansea), F Hayman, J Arnold, J Parsons, F A Unwin, J H Common, A Ash, P G H Curtis, W Barrow (ex Gloucester), A D Stephens, L Wiltshire, and F L Green..

Chronicle: Bristol did the double over Bath in pouring rain. The game was played in a very good spirit; “It has taken a war to show that Bath and Bristol matches can be really pleasant! Gone is the ‘needle’ element. I recall that in pre war days these ‘local derbies’ were all scrums and lines–out, kicks and no passing; feeling on the field and at the ring side, and only depressing memories once they are over.”

“These players were more like happy schoolboys out for the fun of the thing.” There was a general desire to open up the game. To this end, Bristol were obviously the more successful! The pack came out of their ordeal with credit and F L Green was the pick of the newcomers. Bristol won by a drop goal and three tries to nil. Half-backs Anderson and Wilson were the chief architects of Bristol’s success.



v  Gloucester. Away. Team:- J Hodder, A Rees, J Arnold, P Fortt, F Hayman, G Foster, J Parsons, F A Unwin, J H Common, A Ash, P G H Curtis, F L Green, H A L Chapman (Wellington School), L Wiltshire, L Phillips. Drawn 3-3. International, Carpenter, gave Bath’s Common a hard time in the hooking dual. Otherwise, Bath matched their opponents in all aspects of this exciting game. Green and Chapman had outstanding games, and Hayman used his amazing speed to advantage.

Chronicle: “A drizzle reduced the size of the crowd, but it was good for all that. It was illuminating to see the dressing-rooms sandbagged. Bath have not thought of that idea – yet.”

As with Bristol, the Gloucester Club was an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) HQ, and had to apply to the A.R.P. Committee each time they wished to use their own ground. “A strange war had produced some strange repercussions.”

Chronicle again: “The game was full of incident and excitement. The crowd shouted more and cheered more than any I have heard this season. I wish the Bath crowd would catch the war-time Rugby infection which they have up Gloucester way.”



v Cheltenham, Home. Won 23 – 0 (2 goals, a drop goal, a penalty and 2 tries to nil) This was the first war-time win, playing as Bath F.C. It was a pity that this game was so poorly supported.

Two former King Edwards Schoolboys, Harris and Foster shared 14 of the points. Harris scored a try and dropped a goal, while Foster kicked a penalty and converted 2 tries. The Bath pack was in rampaging mood and secured two of the tries in forward rushes. Hayman scored a ‘glittering’ try



v Cheltenham, Away. Drawn 3-3. Team selection: J Hodder, A Rees or T Hicks, G Foster, P Fortt, F Hayman, T R Harris (Capt.), N Halse, A Ash, H C Withers, L Phillips, W Barrow, P G H Curtis, A D Stephens, F L Gann, W Weiss. “Harris’s grand try at Cheltenham on Saturday gave Bath a deserved draw of a try to a try. It was one of his most brilliant runs. The home side scored in the first half and Harris’s equaliser came six minutes after the interval. Cheltenham were better in the first half, but Bath had the advantage in the second, their forwards being magnificent.”



Starting with Saturday December 30th 1939, with cancellation of a game versus Taunton, there was a period of inactivity due to bad weather. The season did not pick up until 10th February 1940, when Bath played Somerset Police, Away. The next game on the Rec., was not until 2nd March 1940 versus Newport. It was the most prolonged halt to rugby activity in the Club’s history.



v Somerset Police, Away. Lost 3-6. Team:- H T F Buse, A Rees, G Foster, P Fortt, R Hayman, T R Harris, J Parsons (Capt.), F Unwin, A Ash, A W Toley, A W Holden, F L Gann, H Davies, G Winser, R E Price. Bath’s solitary try came from G Foster.



v Stroud, Away. Lost 9-20. Team:- J Hodder, A Rees, H L Weston, P Fortt, F Hayman, G Foster, J Parsons (Capt.), A Ash, F A Unwin, F L Gann, W Barrow, Lt. Kauntze, G Winser, A W Toley, B Wallis. Foster played well again! He contributed two tries and Gann got the other.

This game highlighted Bath’s need for a specialist hooker. The opposition gained possession with monotonous regularity. Toley played a fine game until he had to withdraw with a nasty eye injury. Bath packed three-four, with Toley acting as a ‘rover.’ Weston had a sound game and kept Stroud at bay with long touch kicks and effective tackling. Hodder drew the plaudits of the crowd with fine work at full-back. It was generally felt that the score flattered Stroud, and but for the injury to Toley, the result might have been much closer.



v Newport, Home. Lost 0-9. Team: J Hodder, P Fortt, G Foster, H L Weston, F Hayman, T R Harris, Holvey, F A Unwin, L James, F L Gann, W Barrow, P G H Curtis, B Wallis, Lieut. Kauntze, D Bishop. This was the first home game since before Christmas. The Honorary Treasurer, Mr. F C Wills, was delighted to count some gate money again!

The result was disappointing as the score sheet was still blank until 15 minutes from the finish. Bath put up a spirited defence and made a few enterprising breakaways. It was a shame they capitulated near the end, letting in tries for Thomas and Righton and a penalty goal for the great Bill Tamplin.

Newport won the set scrums, but Bath’s James put up a good show at hooker, despite a poor shove from behind.



WESTON-S-MARE, Drawn 0-0. Home. Team: J Hodder, P Fortt, H L Weston, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris, S Beaverstock, F L Gann, L James, F A Unwin, P G H Curtis, Lieut. Kaunze, G Winser, F G Friend (Torquay Athletic), B Wallis.

Chronicle: “The rivalry was too keen for play to reach a brilliant standard. But not for a moment did it fail to sustain interest.” The War had not dulled local rivalries, and if anything, this was a bigger draw than the ‘Usksiders.’ Weston’s renowned back division had a plentiful supply of ball, but was well held by Bath’s “Maginot” defence, in which Hodder was the General. Bath had every reason to congratulate themselves on an excellent show.



v Newport, Away. Drawn 0-0. Team:- J Hodder, A E Merrett, H L Weston, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris (Capt.), F Beaverstock, L Phillips, L James, F Unwin, W Barrow, P G H Curtis, G Winser, A W Toley, F L Gann. The fixture had been revived after a break since the 1933/34 season.

Chronicle: “The whole of the Newport three-quarter line are policemen and they gave early ‘evidence’ that they were going to take a good deal of ‘arresting’.”

Best run of the game by Harris (Captain). Foster and Hayman were prominent. Newport muffed their chances. Following a 0-9 loss at home, Bath did exceptionally well to hold their hosts to a draw at Newport. The game lacked nothing by way of interest and a crowd of around 2000 enjoyed the encounter. Both sides frittered away chances with careless handling, but the first half saw Roy Harris make one of his dazzling runs. In the second half, Harris, Hayman and Foster caught the eye. “Bath forwards pulled together well, with Phillips, Toley and Unwin perhaps a shade more prominent than the rest.”

L James, Avonvale, came in for Harry Oak, who had dropped an iron bar on his foot at work.



v Metropolitan Police, Home. Lost 6-11. Team:- J Hodder, A E Merrett, P Fortt, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris (Capt.), S Beaverstock, A Ash, L James, L Phillips, B Wallis, W Barrow, F L Gann, G W A Keir and K Weiss.

Chronicle: “…..it was left to Harris to put Bath ahead with a dramatic try after a short pass from his scrum half, following the next piece of scrummaging. He turned and twisted his way through the narrowest gaps in characteristic style, to the complete deception of a vigilant defence.”

Weiss landed a penalty goal.

“The much heavier Police pack turned the scales, but though their backs received plenty of the ball they did not know what to do with it to very striking advantage, and the Bath backs were more impressive the few times they got the ball with anything like speed from tardy heeling.”

“Merrett showed what a speedy winger he is and Phillips as pack leader was, like Weiss, in the van of some storming rushes.”



R.A. Gerrard’s Army XV, Home. Won 6-4. Team:- J Hodder, A E Merrett, P Fortt, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris, S Beaverstock, L Phillips, A Ash, W Barrow, G W A Keir, K Weiss, A W Holden, F L Gann, J Say.

Army XV:- Capt. R A Gerrard, Lt. R Royle (Wilts. and Chippenham), Lt. D Royle (Wilts. and Chippenham), Capt. G H Davies (Wales and Cardiff), 2nd Lt. B Henson (Wilts. and Chippenham), L/Cpl. I Peebles (Hants.), 2nd Lt. B Young (ex Sandhurst), E Collins, Sgt. ‘Jock’ Minto (Bath and Scottish Trials), Cpl. K Wilcox (Bath), Cpl. Heath (Chippenham), Tpr. Davies (Tank Corps), Sgt. Ascott (Bath), Lt. Bune (Blackheath), L/Cpl. Haig (Harwich)

Captain R A Gerrard played for the Army XV. Notably, Lieut. Brian Henson of Chippenham and Wiltshire (Later to play for Bath and much later to become President of the Bath Old Players Association), and also a number of other players associated with the Bath Club at some stage in their rugby careers. J Say from the United had a first XV debut. Bath snatched a victory in the dying seconds by a penalty goal and a late try by Merrett, to the Army’s drop goal. There were injuries to Willcox for the Army and Beaverstock for Bath – both with shoulder injuries. Gerrard had played a magnificent game for the Army, having kicked, handled and defended in outstanding fashion. He retired injured for the final ten minutes. It was a finely contested game throughout and referee Mr. Padfield was not finicky with his whistle.

“There was a very good crowd, including many soldiers, and when a sergt-major walked on the field at half-time some of the troops in the stand started singing “Kiss me good-night, sergt-major.” He thoroughly enjoyed the joke.”



v St. Marys Hospital Home. Lost 8 –19.

Team selection: J Hodder, A E Merrett, H L Weston, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris (Capt.), S Beaverstock, A Ash, L James, F L Gann, P G H Curtis, W Barrow, G W A Kier, A W Toley and G Winser.

St. Mary’s lived up to their reputation for penetrative and open style rugby in defeating Bath by two placed goals and 3 tries to a placed goal and a try.

“Very simply, the Medics took all their chances, and Bath’s went astray as a result of standing still passing, diagonal running, fumbled exchanges, or ill-conceived kicking.”

“It must have been a depressing afternoon for the Bath forwards, who were superior in the tight and magnificent in the loose.” Bath tries were scored by Hayman and Merrett, with Foster converting one.



v Somerset Police, Home. Lost 0 – 3. Team:- J Hodder, A E Merrett, P Fortt, G Foster, F Hayman, T R Harris, S Beaverstock, A Ash, L James, F L Gann, P G H Curtis, B Wallis, G W Keir, A W Toley, L Phillips. A try for the Police side clinched the game fifteen minutes from the end. “There was no suggestion of the end of the season about the Rugby, but unhappily, it was the last home game, and the future of wartime Rugby is in the lap of the gods. Whether there will be any next season remains to be seen. At best, I doubt it will be possible to run more than one side, since a number of men will be called up in the next few months.”

“The pick of the backs were Harris and Hayman, the latter being unlucky not to score, and forwards who stood out were Phillips, Toley and Ash. It was a jolly game, and the visitors were given a jolly evening afterwards.”

Chronicle: Mr Arnold Ridley, the Bath author of the ‘Ghost Train’, now a Major in the British Army, at home on leave from France, was among the spectators at the Rec. today. He is public relations officer at G.H.Q.



v Weston Super Mare Away. Lost 3-6. Team:- J Hodder, A E Merrett, G Foster, J Arnold, F Hayman, T R Harris, S Beaverstock, A Ash, L James, L Phillips, W Barrow, F L Gann, M Chubb, A W Toley, H Davies.

At this time, players changed at the Weston ground, but played at the County School ground at Uphill, as the home ground had been badly damaged by Army horses early in the War.

There was a solitary Bath try scored by Jack Arnold.

Jim Hodder was appearing consistently at full back. It is as well to know something of the background to his away game appearances. He worked for Westinghouse, and frequently had to ask permission to start his shift at 5am on a Saturday, in order to clock-off by 9-30am. Even then, it usually involved a cycle ride to the station, in order to link up with his team-mates.



This page was added on 27/05/2014.

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