I have previously written about Walter Kimberley, a Coventry City footballer who lost his life during World War One. He was not the only former Coventry City footballer to suffer his demise in this conflict, however, and I would like to review George ‘Tubby’ Warren, who played for both Coventry City and Nuneaton Town during his football career.
George, born 1880, grew up in Cross Street, Burton-on-Trent and was one of six children born to Frederick Warren, a coppersmith labourer, and Louisa, nee Taylor. By 1901 George had moved to Hinckley in Leicestershire and was a plumber by trade. In 1903 he married Florence Goddard and had two children, Florence and George.
Playing for Nuneaton Town, then Coventry City
George’s first season for Nuneaton Town was 1906-1907 before he moved on to Coventry City, where he picked up the nickname ‘Tubby’. He played for the club between 1907 and 1911, notable for taking in the club’s final season in the Birmingham league, before they entered the Southern league, then a prestigious competition just below second division level. He was also part of the side that reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time, in 1907-1908, where he was considered one of the stars of the side.1 In 1909-1910 the team did even better, reaching the quarter finals, with Warren scoring two of the goals to see off First Division Nottingham Forest in the last 16. Although the club lost their tie with the mighty Everton, Warren’s exploits had seen him play in front of a record attenmdance of 19,095, the gate receipts from which helped to pay for a new barrel roofed stand.
George had returned to Nuneaton for the 1912-1913 season, before finishing his playing career with Hinckley. By the outbreak of World War 1, George was the licenced victualler of the Three Tuns Inn, Hinckley (a sense of the era is shown when he was unable to play in a trial game for Nuneaton before the 1912-1913 season, as he was on holiday). In December 1915, at the age of 35 he enlisted to the Army Reserves, just 6 months after the death of his wife Florence.
George served with the 2nd Training Reserve Brigade and the 9th Training Reserve Battalion, where in December of 1916 and in March of 1917 he was charged with overstaying his pass from Rugely camp. In 1916, George married Lily Goddard and a further daughter, Dora who was born in March 1917.
Posted to France
In April 1917 George was posted to France with the British Expeditionary Force and later that month joined the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. On 16th May 1917 Private George Warren was killed in action, aged 37. A report from the Evening Despatch dated 26th May 1917 says ‘in a letter which has been received from the commanding officer of the deceased regiment, Warren was shot through the head and died instantly. Officers and men regretted his death, not merely because he was a good soldier, but because he was the life and soul of the regiment’.
From his Service Records, we find a list of the personal possessions he had with him. These were passed, after his death, to his wife Lily, then residing in Well Lane, Hinckley. The following items were received:
Disc, letter, photos, cards, wallet, dog licence, registration card, 1/2d stamp, football card, Musketry scoring book, mirror, tobacco pouch and a letter case
A local impact
George’s impact on the local football scene was great. The website ‘From Town to Town’ reports how in 1920, ‘Old Blue’ selected Warren in a Nuneaton ‘best eleven’ of all time. ‘Old Blue’ reported how Warren “was a great centre-forward, possessing an invaluable capacity for keeping opposing defences guessing. And while they were guessing he was scoring goals.”
George Warren is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, France.
1 See Brassington, Dean and Chalk Singers to Sky Blues. Slough, Sporting and Leisure Press, 1989.
George Warren’s service record can be found here. Further information about his life has been found on the Ancestry and Findmypast websites.
Other sources of information