Playing Sports on the Front Line – August, 1918

Soldiers on the Front Line often took part in a variety of entertainment and sporting activities to keep up morale during the quiet periods of war.  One such letter, written to the Editor of the Bromley & District times in August 1918, provided an insight into one such event.

Two members of the Royal Engineers, who were both local to the Bromley district, were reported as being the local competitors for one such sporting event.  Corporal J.B. Hopgood, an old member of Bromley Football Club, and Corporal W.E Copping of Bickley.

The letter was published in the newspaper on 23rd August, 1918 (page 7)


To the Editor of the Times

DEAR SIR, – No doubt many of your readers will be interested to hear about a sports meeting which was held somewhere behind the lines in France on Sunday, August 11th.

Two old Bromley boys figured among the competitors and upheld the reputation of the old home town by securing several prizes. Corporal J B Hopgood (well known to football enthusiasts, being an old member of the Bromley F.C. and also of the Kent A.C) and Corporal W E Copping, of Bickley, both of the Royal Engineers, were the local competitors.

The weather was glorious and the sight quite a picturesque one. An old French racing track formed the site of the meeting and it was filled to overflowing with all branches of H.M. Forces, not to mention U.S.A., who were well represented. One saw the conspicuous costume of the Red Cross sister standing vividly out from amongst the drab khaki of the Tommy and W.A.A.C.’s and one heard the now familiar “Waal, I guess it’s some show,” as the Americans gave their opinions of the proceedings.

On the whole it was quite a “Blighty” show, a military band being in attendance as I turned to Hopgood and said “Quite like Charter Sports, Sunny, eh,” he endorsed my opinion.

The different events were well contested many “crack” men fighting in the programme Hopgood was quite up to his old form and secured, 120 Hurdles, 1st; High Jump, 2nd (5ft 2 in,); Long Jump, 2nd: 220 yards 2nd. Unfortunately the 100 yards final was run off whilst he was in the dressing room, otherwise no doubt he would have added yet another to the list. Copping secured a place in the mile walk, amidst keen enthusiasm from the spectators.

So, Bromley once again was well to the fore and the two old boys wish to be kindly remembered to any old friends who happen to read this account, hoping that the time is not far away when we shall have the the enjoyment of sports meetings as in the dear old days.

We remain, yours sincerely.

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