Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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Back Row (L-R): F.T.Boucher, L.Page, P.L.Ealand, H.G.W.Prideaux, J.H.Savory, A.N.H.Churchill, A.J.Gardner, F.Ellerton, E.Gardiner. Middle Row: C.M.Welsby, E.F.Eberle, E.Briggs, H.W.Beloe Esq., V.F.Eberle, G.W.Coles. Front Row: D.S.Cook, R.Witchell, C.Slee, I.Hawkins

Above Clifton RFC 1910-11.

In this season V.Fuller Eberle scored a record number of 150 tries in a career with the 1st XV. He also scored a record number of tries, 8, in a match against Clifton College. Another record for this match was the total of 19 tries scored.

Back Row (L-R): J.McNab, D.H.McPherson, H.E.Townsend, R.G.Blunt . W.A.Kinersley, R.Holman, E.G.Blunt, W.I.Gunn. Middle: A.A.Collings, V.Hadley, E.C.Gardener, C.Roscoria, T.H.Philp. Front: F.Gardener, D.Clancy, H.O.Holbrow.

Above the 1910 Ariel Rowing Club Committee with Clifton RFC player W.I.Gunn standing extreme right. He went on to become Vice-Chairman of the Imperial Tobacco Company. He was the great-grandson of H.O.Wills. In 1939 the Executive Committee of Imperial Tobacco included W.I.Gunn, F.O.Wills (Chairman), Frank Arkle (Manufacturing), and C.Havell (Sales), all ex. Clifton RFC players.

This shows the lines in the Public Schools Camp of 1911 in the slack time before dinner. Capt. H.Clissold is in the foreground. From a photograph by J.Soane, 105 St Aldate's, Oxford.

Above ex Clifton RFC player Harry Clissold, then a master at Clifton College is in the foreground. He appeared in the great 1903-04 Clifton side that defeated Gloucester at Kingsholm. He was killed in action in 1917. He is one of 45 club members who died during the 1st World War.


Back Row (L-R): E.Gardiner, F.D.Andrews, A.N.H.Churchill, A.J.Gardner, F.Ellerton, E.V.MacKay, A.Burr. Seated: C.M.Welsby, V.F.Eberle, H.W.Beloe Esq., J.A.Dommett, E.Briggs. R.S.Witchell, D.S.Cook, E.F.Eberle, M.Durant, M.H.Laxton.

Above Clifton XV of 1911-12

Back Row (L-R): E.Gardiner, ?, ?, ?, A.Burr, ?, ?, M.H.Laxton. Middle Row: H.V.Thomas, W.W.Speid, H.W.Beloe Esq., A.B.Sellman, ?. Front Row: F.D.Andrews, ?, E.Taylor, ?.

Above Clifton 2nd XV of 1911-12.


Back Row (L-R): T.H.Butler, M.H.Laxton, C.M.Welsby, H.V.Thomas, K.Harrison, W.W.Speid, M.Durant, C.Slee, S.A.Pakeman. Middle Row: F.D.Andrews, R.S.Witchell, V.F.Eberle, H.W.Beloe Esq, J.A.Dommett, A.B.Sellman, F.Ellerton. Front Row: P.G.Scott, D.S.Cook.

Above Clifton XV of 1912-13


Standing (L-R): F.D.Andrews, E.Taylor, C.M.Welsby, N.Durant, H.V.Thomas, F.S.Woodley, A.B.Sellman. Sitting: G.H.Gibbs, V.F.Eberle, J.A.Dommett, Mr.H.W.Beloe, R.S.Witchell, H.H.Hutchinson. On Ground: G.E.Cripps, G.C.Watson, E.H.Addenbrooke, R.I.Hawkins.

Above Clifton XV of 1913-14. George H. Gibbs (seated extreme left) was the father of the Bristol and England player (2 caps) George Anthony Gibbs (born 31st March 1920, died 26th Feb 2001) and the Harlequins and England player (2 caps) Nigel Gibbs (born 24th September 1922). Nigel was also a cricket blue at Oxford and head teacher at Colston's in 1965.

Above group of four XV's taken at Clifton College Close in 1913-14.

A large number of players joined the 4th Glosters as privates, and for several months a Platoon in "D" Company was practically composed of club members. So that they could fight together as they had played together. Extract from Clifton RFC player James Henry Savory's letter of Nov 6 1914: "I suppose Bristol is rather quiet just now. Corbet(?) Slee is coming up to join us sometime. Harry Castle is not here yet & will I expect be attached to Home Defence battalion. I have been instructing all the officers of the Bristol Batts. in my line so have come across a whole lot of pals, and there are parties of them in the ranks too, a whole lot of footer chaps in the 4th Glos for instance."

Above the 4th Glosters, some still in civilian clothes, training in the grounds of Bristol Grammar School, 1914. The school voluntarily gave up its playing field in Tyndall's Park, which was used extensively for training purposes.

The picture above was sent as a postcard on 25th August 1914. On the reverse the names are shown as 'back row Ellis (The thought at the moment is that this is 17 year old Francis Arthur Ellis. Ex Clifton College), Cripps (Clifton player G.E.Cripps) , Sainsbury, Eberle (thought to be the Clifton player Victor Fuller-Eberle), front row Mortimer Savory (younger brother of the Clifton player J.H.Savory), Ellerton (Clifton player Frank Ellerton), Robinson. The card was sent from their training camp in Chelmsford prior to leaving for France/Belgium. Thanks to Richard Savory for the photo.

There is a Clifton College link here as well as a Clifton RFC

Francis Arthur Ellis: b.17.6.1897. d.?. Clifton College 1911-1914; War 1914 Lt. 7th & 9th Bn. Welch Regt; W. Front, 1914-19, wounded; Univ . Coll. Cardiff; M.I.E.E., M.I.Mech.E; Cons. Eng. 1921-36; Yorks Elec Coy., 1939-43; Dep. Eng., Huddersfield, 1939-43; Borough Elec. Huddersfield 1943-48; 1939 War, Lt., Home Guard.; Man., Yorks. Elec. Board (No.2 Sub-Area), 1948-51; now (1962) Man., South Elec. Board (No. 2 Sub-Area); Thistover, Cold Ash, Newbury, Berks.

GE Cripps:

Sainsbury: Possibly Edward Alfred Sainsbury. Clifton College 1892-1901. Capt.,A/Maj. Royal Engineers.

Victor Fuller-Eberle: b.28.6.1887. d.?. Clifton College 1899-1905. Maj. South Midland Royal Engineers.

Ernest Mortimer Savory: b.2.7.1896. d.1954. Clifton College 1908-1913. Capt. Royal Garrison Artillery. Publisher Park Row, Bristol

Frank Ellerton: Help found Woodford RFC

Robinson: Possibly one of the 4 Gotch Robinson brothers: Harold - b.5.4.1884. d.1954. Clifton College 1895-1902. WW1 Lt in RE. Percy - b.11.2.1881 Sneyd Park, Bristol. d.29.1.1951 Queen Charlotte Manor, Somerset. Clifton College 1893-1900. WW1 Lt-Col RSA. Chairman Bristol Evening Post and Master Merchant Venturer. Played cricket for Glos 1904-21. Edward Stanley - b.4.7.1887. d.?. Clifton College 1898-1906. WW1 Lt. Northants Reg. Worked in British and Ashmolean Museums. CBE 1942. Foster - b.19.9.1890. d.?. Clifton College 1892-1899. WW1 Capt. KB 1958. Played cricket for Glos 1912-22. Captain 1919-21.


The picture on the left appeared in James Belsey's book Forgotten Front: Bristol at War 1914 - 1918 with the caption " Arthur, the proud volunteer, in his smart new 'Bristol Own' uniform with the Avon Gorge in the background. Beyond his Christian name and the date, December 1914, no further details are known. Nor his fate."

It bears a striking resemblance to the Ellis in the picture above. Unfortunateley a different person in a different regiment.

The book "Forgotten Front: Bristol at War 1914 - 1918" was published by Redcliffe Press in 1986.

Above taken whilst training in Chelmsford in late Summer/Autumn 1914, left to right: Sainsbury, Mortimer Savory, Harry Savory, Robinson, Victor Fuller-Eberle and Frank Ellerton. Both Harry Savory and Frank ellerton rowed for Clifton Rowing Club. For more click here

Above Clifton RFC's Harry (James Henry) Savory (left) with brother Mortimer (right) in 1914. Thanks to Richard Savory for the above photo.

Above Clifton RFC player (1913-14) Donald Acraman Greenslade, standing extreme right, taken on 21st May 1915 in a Prisoner of War camp in Baden Germany. In the photo there are also Russians, Belgains, Swiss, French and a Trappist Monk.

Above Major Gilbert Charles Beloe M.C. Adjutant 2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment May 1916 - July 1917. He joined Clifton RFC in 1898-99. His brothers were Gerald Harry Beloe who was Clifton captain from 1898-1900, and Cecil Willoughby Beloe also a Clifton player. His father was Henry (Harry) Willoughby Beloe, President of Clifton Rugby Club from 1891-1925.

Ex. Clifton player Robert Bush converts his home into a hospital.


The 4th Glosters parade along Victoria Street, Bristol c.1915. Near the camera, the Quantock Commercial Hotel offers beds; Midland & L. & N.W. Railways share a parcels office; and just to the right of the nearest tram post is the alley-way, Long Row, a medieval street.

Above the new headquarters of the 4th Glosters on Old Market Street, Bristol. Now being converted into flats. Image courtesy of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

1918 - 44 players died in the first world war. A memorial exists in the entrance at Cribbs Causeway (see below) and a minutes silence is taken every year on Remembrance Sunday.

The 44 names on the War Memorial are

Captain Frederick Dudley Andrews, M.C. For more details click here

Captain Friedrich Wilhem Bartelt For more details click here

Major Geoffrey Dennis Browne For more details click here

Captain Alan Caldicott For more details click here

L.Caulfield For more details click here

Lieutenant Arthur Norton Hickling Churchill For more details click here

Major H.Clissold For more details click here

Lieutenant Robert Hayward Down For more details click here

Lieutenant Norman Durant For more details click here

Captain Barcroft Joseph Leech Fayle For more details click here

Lieutenant Leslie Harrington Fry For more details click here

Major Ernest Gardiner For more details click here

Captain Hugh William Littleton Geach For more details click here

Lieutenant Henry Wyndham Goodden For more details click here

Lieutenant William Jackson Haggart For more details click here

Captain Francis John Hannam For more details click here

2nd Lieutenant Frank Alexander Haycroft For more details click here

Captain Stanley Frederick Hill,M.C. & Bar For more details click here

Lieutenant Burnett George James For more details click here

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ronald Victor Knight For more details click here

W.H.Lambert For more details click here

W.G.Laxton For more details click here

Private Morton Leonard For more details click here

Lieutenant Harold Alfred Llewellyn For more details click here

W.E.Pane For more details click here

Lieutenant Hugh Wharton Myddleton Parr For more details click here

Captain Wilfred Wharton Parr, M.C. For more details click here

Lieutenant Colonel Courtenay Talbot St.Paul For more details click here

Captain William Edgar Paul For more details click here

Lieutenant Henry George Phippen For more details click here

Captain Dudley Allen Pontifex For more details click here

G.F.Puckle For more details click here

Lance Corporal William John Rogers For more details click here

Captain Charles Holbrook Rosling For more details click here

Captain Robert Rowatt For more details click here

Captain Percy Trevellyn Rowe For more details click here

Captain Harold Ewart Rudman For more details click here

2nd Lieutenant Edgar Nevill Newmarch Sellman For more details click here

Lieutenant Claude Bostock Smith For more details click here

Lieutenant Noel Alexander Target For more details click here

Captain Richard Guy Titley, M.C. For more details click here

2nd Lieutenant Frederick Cecil Banes Walker For more details click here

Captain George Carr Watson For more details click here

Lieutenant William Stanley Yalland For more details click here

1 name was removed

Captain Warren Chetham-Strode For more details click here

19 names are missing

Rifleman John Harold Bacchus For more details click here
Rifleman Ralph Lancelot Bacchus For more deatils click here
Captain Henry Ryan Bennett For more details click here
Captain Arthur Edward James Collins For more details click here
Lieutenant Edward Martin Panter-Downes For more details click here
Captain Philip Arthur Edwards For more click here
Lieutenant Edouard Herbert Allan Goss For more details click here

For more information on the history of the War Memorial click here

Above The Longueval Cross. A memorial to the Gloucestershire 12th Battalion "Bristol's Own", who were heavily involved in the fighting around Longueval and Guillemont, in the second phase of the Battle of the Somme from the end of July to the beginning of September 1916. Dean Marks was instrumental in getting it re-erected. Longueval is just to the south of the infamous Delville Wood, eventually taken at enormous cost by the South African Brigade. South Africa now owns the wood and their National Memorial and Museum are to be found there.

Above Clifton RFC's Harry (James Henry) Savory (left) with youngest brother Bryan (right) in 1918. Thanks to Richard Savory for the above photo.

Back Row (L-R): C.Huxtable, D.J.Barker, G.A.J.Parker, J.L.W.Ewens, D.M.Beaton. Seated: T.H.R. Britton, L.Simmonds, C.W.Parsons, A.E.Sewell, H.J.Perret, C.M.Crien, H.H.Apted. On Ground: R.C.Witherspoon, E.C.Evans. Absent: W.F.Gaisford and G.W.Downs.

Above Bristol Grammar School Rugby 1st XV 1918 with future Clifton players G.A.J.Parker, J.L.W.Ewens, H.H.Apted, and E.C.Evans. All joined Clifton in 1919-20.


Back Row (L-R): R.E.Russell (Kines man), J.E.Stone, R.E.Short, E.A.Seaborne, A.R.Osbourne, E.Walsh, E.L.Wirgman. Seated: G.V.Jones, H.H.Apted, J.L.W.Ewens, C.W.Parsons (Capt.), D.J.Baker, W.S.Gaisford, R.R.Fells. On Ground: J.Blennerhassett, W.F.Curtis. Absent J.G.Cole and R.Matthews.

Above Bristol Grammar School Rugby 1st XV 1919 with future Clifton players H.H.Apted, J.L.W.Ewens, W.F.Gaisford who all joined Clifton in 1919-20, W.F.Curtis who joined Clifton in 1920-21 and D.J.Baker who joined Clifton in 1921-22

Club had no ground and only 3 players. The old ground at North View, Westbury-on-trym had been ploughed up and used as allotments during the 1st World War. Big recruitment drive and ground found at Redland Green.

Signed programme of music from July 18th 1919 dedicated to Clifton RFC player J.H.Savory. Ex player signatures I can see are Ellison and Victor Eberle, C.B.Hosegood, as well as Jack Savory's brother Mortimer. Thanks to Richard Savory for the above photo.

Back Row (L-R): J.F.Menzies, K.C.Bisdee, J.King, B.Whitelaw, H.Taylor, H.W.Betty, E.Seymour-Bell, G.A.J.Parker, G.V.Gibbs, S.Evans, E.C.Ball, A.B.Sellman, E.S.L.Ostler, Mr H.W.Beloe, G.R.Bridge, T.N.Bowerbank, ?, K.O.Bathgate. Front Row: R.G.H.Adams, E.C.Evans, A.T.Richards, R.C.Organ, S.B.Organ, W.V.Gray, J.P.Hitchings, ?, T.Wood.

The above photo, of the 1st and 2nd XVs, was taken on October 4th 1919 at the first match after the 1st World War v Bristol Grammar School. Only 3 players who played for Clifton prior to the war are included in this picture, A.B.Sellman, E.C.Ball and G.V.Gibbs. Later on M.Durrant, J.H.Savory and T.N.Bowerbank were welcomed back.

Back Row (L-R): H.Merrick, C.M.Welsby, F.E.Metcalfe, A.J.Gardner, R.L.Austin, E.J.Higham, R.Lowe, F.Ellerton, M.H.Laxton. Front Row: G.F.Eberle, A.Gardiner, D.A.Clark, E.F.Eberle, V.F.Eberle. On Ground: G.V.Gibbs, R.S.Witchell.

Above Old Members XV 1919-20

Back Row (L-R): E.Seymour-Bell (Hon.Asst.Sec.), M.A.James, W.F.Gaisford, B.Whitelaw, J.P.Hitchings, E.S.Bromhead, K.O.Bathgate, G.V.Gibbs (Hon.Sec.). Middle Row: H.Pyrke, M.Durant, E.C.Ball, A.B.Sellman (Captain), J.H.Savory, A.N.Carruthers. Front Row: H.H.Apted, V.E.Rogers, M.E.K.Westlake, E.C.Evans.

Above Clifton XV of 1919-20

Clifton player Captain M. A. James (see above picture, back row, second left) (8th Battalion) was awarded the Victoria Cross during the 1st World War. For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack in April, 1918. Captain James led his company forward with magnificent determination and courage, inflicting severe losses on the enemy and capturing 27 prisoners and two machine guns. He was wounded, but refused to leave his company, and repulsed three hostile onslaughts the next day. Two days later, although the enemy had broken through on his right flank, he refused to withdraw and made a most determined stand, inflicting very heavy losses on the enemy and gaining valuable time for the withdrawal of guns. He was ordered by the senior officer on the spot to hold on "to the last," in order to allow the brigade to be extricated. He then led his company forward in a local counter-attack of his own initiative, and was again wounded. He was last seen working a machine gun single-handed, after having been wounded a third time. No praise can be too high for the gallant stand made by this company, and Captain James, by his dauntless courage and magnificent example, undoubtedly enabled the battalion to be withdrawn before being completely cut off (near Velu wood at Battle of St. Quentin one of the Somme Battles 1918). He joined Clifton in 1919-20. The Battle of St Quentin lasted from 21st - 23rd March 1918. Exceptionally heavy German shellfire hit all areas of British front occupied by Fifth Army, most of the front of Third Army, and some of the front of First Army, at 4.40am. The main weight of attack was between Arras and a few miles south of Saint-Quentin. The intense barrage was concentrated not on the infantry holding the forward posts, but on British artillery and machine-gun positions, headquarters, telephone exchanges, railways and other important centres of communications. In other words it was a very deep barrage designed to knock out the British ability to respond. German infantry began to attack between 7.00am and 9.40am. New infiltration tactics meant that infantry continued to probe forward through gaps regardless of what was happening either side, while follow-up units besieged and engaged British posts and defended villages. Many of these held out, and only fell once entirely surrounded and hopeless. For more click here

November 22nd 1919, first match on new ground on Redland Green v Tank Corps from Dorset. Lost 11-3. Prior to this all games had been played away after the 1st World War. Cattle had been allowed to graze on the pitch and the ditches often overflowed and as a result things got muddy and unpleasant. Ashes were spread over to soak up the mess. Not pleasant to play on. Probably as a result the total gate money for the season was less than 5. Prior to the match the first set of posts were mistakenly erected on the dead ball line. The changing accommodation at Redland Green was limited to a very small wooden hut, and an army portable canvas bath.

For more details on Redland Green click here

Above photograph of the 1920 Clifton v Burnham match on the 7th February 1920. J.H.Savory on right.

Above photograph of the 1920 Clifton v Bristol University match on 28th February 1920. J.H.Savory in the foreground, J.P.Hitchings and E.C.Evans also in pictures.