Lionel Russell Wilford 8 November 1918

Lionel Russell Wilford was the son of an OO vicar and came from Wisbech. In 1906 he arrived at his father’s old house (School) and stayed for five years. He was a member of the XV in his last two years, playing at full back. He was described as “a great source of strength to the side…a ferarless tackler, a safe field and kicks well with either foot.” Lionel Wilford was also captain of the strong School House team but in the 1910 final, they were swept away by a very talent Sidney team which included Edward MacBryan and the fearsome Gulliland twins.

Six months earlier it had been the same story for Lionel in the final of the house cricket competition. Sidney (with MacBryan and one Gulliland) beat School House by 9 wickets. He also played occasionally for the XI in his last year and his father (Revd HH Wilford) reappeared at Oundle to play for the Oundle Rovers. It seems father and son did not play against each other however. In school sports, Lionel Wilford’s speciality was throwing the cricket ball. Second in his penultimate year at the school, he came through to take the title in his last year with a throw of over 95 yards.

He enlisted in the Public Schools’ Battalion in September 1914 and gained a commission with the South Staffordshire Regiment in January 1915. Early in the following year, he was appointed Supervisor of Physical Training and Bayonet Fighting in a reserve Infantry Brigade and posted to Rugeley. In May he was promoted Lieutenant and then Captain in September. 

In 1918 he was sent abroad as part of the Italian Expeditionary Force. He died of influenza, contracted on active service and died in Marseilles on 8th November 1918 and was buried there in the Mazargues War Cemetery. He was one of the handful of married Oundelians who died on active service. 

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow