Private James Sanders
Born. 29/12/1889 Newport, Monmouthshire.
Died. 13/10/1916 France.
James Sanders was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales on the 29th of December 1889.
A famous Rugby player before the war he first made his mark as a footballer when only 13 years of age representing Wales in the schoolboy’s match against England in 1902.
By the age of 15 he was playing Rugby for Pill extras, the second team of Pill Harriers(Newport) Rugby Club and after only a year was promoted to Pill Harriers 1st team.
In 1909, at the age of 19 Leeds Rugby F.C secured his signature and he made his debut with them against Halifax at Headingley on the 4th September 1909.
In the same season Leeds R.F.C reached the challenge cup final against Hull. James Sanders was injured after 25 mins, and taken to hospital. The match ended in a draw. The injury to his leg forced him to miss the replay, which Leeds won for the first time!
At the outbreak of war in 1914, James was still playing rugby for Leeds, and continued playing for them until his last game against Hull on October 16th 1915.
In 1915, He travelled to Colsterdale and enlisted as a Private into the Leeds Pals.
On the 13th October 1916, whilst attached to 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, James Sanders was Killed in Action.
At the end of October 1916, Mr J Goldthorpe Secretary of the Leeds Rugby F.C. received the news of Sanders death He was reported to say:
“He was a clever half-back, and most popular with his colleagues and his death will be regretted”
Writing, later on, in the Clubs official programme, Mr J Goldthorpe called him
“Sanders the Humorist”
“He (Sanders) could always see the funny side of things” and quoted a few examples, one of which being when “Jimmy” told him how:
“I have been in it thick and thin just lately, and I have been over the top twice, and back a winner each occasion. It was quite amusing to see Germans running towards us with their hands up, flapping like seals, giving their famous war – cry, “Kamerade”,”
James (Jimmy) Sanders has no known grave and like so many other “Sportsman” Pals is commemorated on the Thiepville Memorial.