At the beginning of the 1939/40 season England international Peter Cranmer was elected Moseley captain. Soon afterwards, however, the outbreak of war, in September 1939, intervened, although some rugby was still played by the club during the early months of the conflict, for example, Moseley beat Coventry 6-3, at The Reddings, on 25th November and there was a return game on 16th December which ended in an eight-all draw.
Eighty percent of the club’s playing members joined the Armed Forces while The Reddings was used to train Sea Cadets and for the grazing of sheep under the auspices of the War Agriculture Committee. The sheep not only kept the grass down but also had a nasty habit of disappearing on dark nights never to be seen again.
During the conflict a small but dedicated group of Moseley members worked to protect the club’s property. One of these members was Bill Fea, who made a substantial contribution towards the cost of re-laying the pitch, part of which had been dug up for agricultural purposes and resembled a large crater.
A number of ‘international’ matches were staged during the war years to raise money for various charities. The first of these matches was played, at Richmond Athletic Ground, on 16th December 1939, in aid of the Red Cross. The fixture was between England and Wales and Scotland and Ireland and was the third occasion on which a four country international had been staged. The match was also the first international fixture at Richmond since the 1909 England v. Scotland encounter.
In the centre for England and Wales was Peter Cranmer, who scored his side’s final try by following a series of his own kick aheads. He was also ‘strong and quick to seize on the loose ball’ throughout the match. The game resulted in a win for England and Wales by 17 points to three.
Later in the season there was a series of two Red Cross internationals between England and Wales. The first of these was at Cardiff Arms Park, on 9th March 1940, before 40,000 spectators.
Peter Cranmer appeared in the unaccustomed position of full back for England and was several times embarrassed by Welsh punts. Also in the England side, at number eight was Cambridge University student Christopher Newton-Thompson, who, in the 1950s, first introduced organised coaching at Moseley. England won the match by 18 points to nine.
The return fixture took place at Gloucester’s Kingsholm ground, on 13th April and both Cranmer and Newton-Thompson were retained by England, the former once more in the unaccustomed role of full back. The Times reported that the match, which was won 17-3 by England, ‘was the best seen in the West Country for many a long day.’
Later in the war future Moseley halfback Jim Parsons made a total of seven appearances for England in wartime international matches against Wales and against Scotland.
Once the conflict was over, in August 1945, rugby was able to return to something approaching normality and for the 1945/46 season Moseley arranged ‘a long and attractive fixture list.’
In this first post-war season rather than the usual International Championship a series of ‘Victory’ international matches was played and during these games Cambridge University forward and future Moseley player Mickey Steele-Bodger made three appearances for England.
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