Tuesday, 19 April 2016

After the Battle - Lady Butler's Roll Call

The Dulwich Hamlet team's amazing win against Leyton in the 1934 FA Amateur Cup Final was rightly acclaimed as a great triumph over adversity. The Hamlet finished the match with just seven fit men, with one of the casualties 'Dusty' Miller taken to hospital. Despite suffering a continuous second half onslaught from a better team, ten-man Dulwich held on to their 2-1 lead. Horace Robbins scored the first and Herbert Benka, with head bandaged, got the second.

The Hamlet players, battered and bruised, looked a sorry sight as they lined up to receive the Cup and their medals, but they had just written themselves into folklore. They were also about to be captured in pen and ink by celebrated cartoonist Harold Gittings.

As his cartoon makes clear, the  top panel was a parody of a famous oil painting from sixty years earlier by Elizabeth Thompson, later Lady Butler .

Lady Butler's painting 'The Roll Call' shows a group of British soldiers during the Crimean War. It was unusual for a woman to paint scenes of war, and unlike the typical macho pictures depicting the glory of war, she records the pain and suffering of the men following a tough battle. 

The painting, purchased by Queen Victoria, was a major success and was viewed by tens of thousands as it toured the nation's galleries. The Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt said that Lady Butler's painting "touched the nation's heart as few pictures have ever done".

The Hamlet's walking wounded also touched many hearts that afternoon in 1934, as they won the cup for the second time in three years.

And the Roll Call:

Hamer (suspected broken nose)
Toser (head injury),
Miller (hospitalised), 
Benka (head injury), 

Note: The cartoon is from Ernie Toser's scrapbook.

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