NEWTOWN REMEMBERS Commemorating 100 years since the First World War
Y DRENEWYDD YN COFIO Coffáu 100 mlynedd ar ôl y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf

George Latham

Birth: 1/1/1888
Death: 9/7/1939
Regiment: Capt. 7th Battalion RWF and SWB in Boer War
Battles: Eastern Front

 

George was born in Union Street. Latham had previously served eighteen years in the old Volunteers SWB, going out with the “Dandy” Fifth South Wales Borderers to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War. For fourteen months he was actively engaged against the Boers. His company joined Lord Roberts, and took part in engagements at Zand River, Brandfort, Potchefstroom, etc., and marched through Bloemfontein to Johannesburg, and thence to Pretora. George received his discharge in Cape Town, and was decorated with a medal and four bars for his services.

He accepted a commission in the 3/7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers on Monday 9th August 2015 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1916 but had originally enlisted in 1914 as an instructor and spent several months training with his regiment at Park Hall Camp near Oswestry, before being deployed in June 1916. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and was reportedly originally recommended for the Victoria Cross; the highest military honour for British forces, for his gallantry in capturing enemy positions on the Turkish front while under heavy fire, taking soldiers from Austria, Germany and Turkey as prisoners. He added a Bar in 1918 for his actions fighting in Beersheba, in Israel under the command of Edmund Allenby, where he 'threw bombs at the advancing Turks til his arm grew so tired he could throw no more'.

He was also Mentioned in dispatches by General Archibald Murray, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force at the time.  He later travelled with his regiment to fight in Palestine.

It was during his service in the First World War that Latham first met his long time friend Harry Beadles. During their time in Palestine, Latham and Beadles played football for their division, the 7th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and won the British Forces in Egypt Football League Cup Final in 1919.

After returning to Wales, Latham took up a position as a coach at Cardiff City.  While serving as a coach Latham was forced into playing for the side in a 3–1 win over Blackburn Rovers on 2 January 1921 after two of the clubs players were taken ill prior to the match, becoming the oldest debutant in the history of the club at 41.  Working alongside Fred Stewart, his spell at Ninian Park coincided with one of the most successful spells in the history of the club, including reaching the FA Cup final on two occasions, losing 1–0 to Sheffield United in 1925 before beating Arsenal 1–0 in 1927.  He was let go by the club in 1932 due to financial reasons as they entered a period of decline. He also managed the British team at the 1924 Olympic Games. After leaving Cardiff, Latham worked as a coach at Chester City until his retirement.

In 1936, Latham was seriously injured in a bicycle accident and was forced to give up his coaching role. He instead returned to his home town Newtown where he died three years later in July 1939 at Montgomery County Infirmary at the age of 58. His funeral was attended by numerous footballers and his longtime friend Harry Beadles was one of his Pallbearers.

His home town club, Newtown later named their ground Latham Park in honour of him.

 

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