Fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC will know “Major Frank Buckley” as a former manager of the club, from 1927 until 1944. Prior to this, however, he was also actively involved during the First World War.
Franklin Charles Buckley was born on 3 October 1882 in Urmston, Lancashire. His father, John, was a sergeant in the British Army. Between 1902 and 1914 he was a professional footballer, playing for a number of teams including Aston Villa, Manchester United and Birmingham City. At the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the 17th Middlesex Regiment, where he reached the rank of major and commanded the “Footballers’ Battalion”. Despite its name, when it was first set up, very few of the 600 men in this battalion were, in fact, footballers, as many were local men who wanted to be in a battalion alongside their football heroes.
During the Battle of the Somme, Buckley was injured in his lung and shoulders, and was sent to a military hospital in Kent. Although surgeons were able to remove the shrapnel from his body, he was never able to play football again.
He died in Walsall in December 1964. His funeral was held in Wolverhampton, with his ashes being scattered on the Malvern Hills. Further details of the man and his life are here.