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History

The story of Private D'Abadie

Fan and historian Paul Briers looks at the story of a new fallen hero

11 November 2020

During the month of November, Brentford Football Club continue to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, in conflicts in which servicemen from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth gave their lives. In my continuing research into the footballers of Brentford FC, from 1889 through to the 1920’s, another former Brentford player is now due for recognition for his service in WW1 and for making the ultimate sacrifice.

Louis Lawrent D’Abadie was born in August 1877, the third son of St Luce D’Abadie (a landowner) and Ida D’Abadie (née Girod), of Port of Spain, Trinidad. At that time, a number of Trinidadians sent their children to Great Britain for tutelage. Louis’ exact arrival date into the UK isn’t known but during 1887 he was a student at Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe Lancashire, before completing his education at St Augustine's College, Ramsgate. It is mentioned that he was a diligent student and a keen sportsman, he was well read in the literatures of France and England, a brilliant debater, and had intended to study law.

The Newspaper Archives have several pieces about L. L. D’Abadie while a student at St Augustine’s Ramsgate Kent. He played cricket for the College during 1891 to 1894. His name appears in the College's merit lists for English, Mathematics and theatrical performances in College plays.

During October 1896, D’Abadie starts appearing for Brentford in reserve fixtures in the West Middlesex League. He may well have been introduced to Brentford via a fellow Trinidadian, Felix Leotaud, who was Captain of the Brentford Reserve XI. Felix would go on to become President of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association.

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During the same month, D’Abadie also appears for St Augustine’s in football matches either side of his appearances for the B’s. During November and December 1896, L. D’Abadie continues to appear for the B’s Reserves. Even appearing in the Middlesex Junior Cup fixtures for Brentford Reserves.

In the following years, the records of Brentford squads are incomplete, so we lose track of his appearance record at Griffin Park. In 1897, he is seen playing college cricket, then making an appearance for Ramsgate FC. It is presumed he returned to Trinidad after college, as he no longer features in any squad after May 1898.

The next mention of Louis D’Abadie comes in the form of a ship’s register in November 1914. Along with Lieutenant Edward Ellis, Captain Thornton Warner, John Wilson and Bertie Russell, Louis arrives back in England on 8 December 1914. He enlisted in London, into the 24th Battalion (2nd Sportsmen's) Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, as Private SPTS/2276.

D’Abadie’s 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers left England on 14 November 1915 and disembarked, in France, on 15 November 1915. The Battalion War Diary notes the movements of his battalion and the position it took up on 31 July 1916. One of the many days of horror of the Somme Offensive 1916.

On 31 July 1916, the Royal Fusiliers attacked a section of German trenches to the east of Waterlot Farm, receiving many casualties. It was during this action, Private L. L. D'Abadie was killed when going over the top with his regiment to help to capture Delville Wood.

Private L. L. D'Abadie has no known grave and is, therefore, remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 8C, 9A and 16A. In addition, he is also commemorated on the Port of Spain Cenotaph.

In the notes from the battle, we find more detail: “Louis was killed in action while taking part in the advance. He was instantaneously killed by a shell while advancing through Delville Wood. The morning before we went into action he attended an open-air Mass, and, with the rest of us Catholics, received Holy Communion on the field, so that we were all prepared for any sacrifice.

“Darby (as we always called him) was beloved by all, and every one of us will, deep in our hearts, treasure his memory as one of the finest men and truest comrades we have ever had the good fortune to meet.”


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