According to Club records provided by Paul Harold made eighteen appearances in third grade for a total of 16 wickets. Not knowing much about cricket myself I don’t understand the meaning of the statistics but Paul has concluded that Harold was probably a career No. 11, whose bowling was his strength.
As the Club was only founded in 1905 Paul says that Harold was still very much a part of the young club, and that his limited games probably meant he would have made himself available when needed by the club.
Gordon District Cricket Club has a proud history and has participated in the main Sydney Grade Cricket competition. Gordon has won the club championship four times and the first grade premiership on six occasions. According to their website, as well as its premiership successes, Gordon has produced a long list of representative players – including 19 Australian representatives and 37 NSW players. Amongst these are some of the greatest names in Australian cricket - Charlie McCartney, Victor Trumper, Bert Oldfield, Neil Harvey and Brian Taber.
Paul published his book A Cricket Club at War in November 2015 and in the overview states: “From its first game in 1905 to the outbreak of the war in August 1914, the club had registered 152 players. Within two years of the start of the war, fifty-two of those players had enlisted with the AIF…..From Test cricketers to part-time lower grade players, there was no differentiation. If you were within the age bracket and met the fitness requirements, you were expected and indeed encouraged to enlist.”
Paul has spent years researching the stories of these brave young men and has woven a marvellous story of the fate of the 52 club members who risked their lives for ‘God, King and Country’ and intermixed cricket analogies into their service histories. The men from Gordon Cricket Club served in all the major campaigns of WWI and “although the majority would return, many would never play cricket again due to their injuries”. In fact seven club members were killed in action or died of wounds.
When describing the club’s experiences in the disaster of the Battle of Passchendaele here is what Gordon cricketer Johnnie Moyes’ 48th battalion diary said “almost every man who showed himself became a casualty”. This is of course the battle where my grandfather was wounded, and this is what Paul had to say about him:
“Also in the battle, in the 34th battalion (9th Brigade), was the latest in the long line of Gordon recruits. Harold Wyndham Lilja was a twenty-three year old public accountant who lived at Nyara in Neridah Street, Chatswood….Harold had passed the Bankers Institute of NSW examination at the University of Sydney and had also gone to Officer’s School at Duntroon, obtaining a 1st Class pass. He had enlisted in November 1915 but only left for overseas on 17 November 1916 a year later.
After his arrival, Harold had spent time training at the AIF School in March and April 1917 beofre being sent to the front line in time for the Battle of Passchendaele. As he lined up with the rest of his battalion at 5.25am, looking ahead at the wind, rain and mud, he would have wondered what the training had all been for as this was not in the manual. On that day, Harold was severely concussed and taken to the field ambulance station, and possibly treated by Dr Gother Clarke [another Gordon Club member] who was on duty. Sadly Dr Clarke was killed that same day at Passchendaele when hit by a shell while treating another wounded soldier near the tent.
According to Paul’s research my grandfather lived on Scotland Island on Pittwater for a time after my grandparents separated in the early 1930s. This is news for me and as I’ve never been to the island I plan to do this before this project is over. Harold met a new life partner Patricia and started a new family, and they lived out their retirement years in Fairlight.
Paul is pictured at Gordon Cricket Club’s home ground at Chatswood in front of the Victor Trumper Pavilion named for the club’s champion player who died as a result of Bright’s disease on 28 June 1915, aged 37. Interestingly, Bright's disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis – the same disease my partner suffers from. Trumper is buried in Waverley Cemetery after the largest funeral procession ever seen in Sydney at that time.