This trophy was introduced by the club in 2018 in memory of Lt. Geoffrey Cather VC a former member of our club. He gave his life in 1917 during WW1 whilst saving many of his team members during battle on the Somme aged just 27.
Since I first heard his story I have considered if I would be capable of such bravery, but to help you decide if you would be prepared to make such sacrifice for the team, this is his story.
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 during the Crimean War and, in 164 years since then, only 1358 have been awarded, so a pretty rare recognition of bravery.
Geoffrey St George Cather was born in October 1890, the elder son of Robert and Margaret Cather. Robert (father) was a partner in Joseph Tetley and Co, tea merchants in Fenchurch Street, London. The family moved to Limpsfield sometime in the 1890s, and lived in Red Roofs, Bluehouse Lane.
He went to Hazelwood School in 1900 and then to Rugby School, which he left in 1908 on the death of his father. Geoffrey Cather himself joined Tetley’s in London in 1908 as a tea buyer's assistant. He worked for them for a time in the USA before returning to England in 1914. When war broke out, he chose to go back to his Ulster family roots in Portadown, so he was commissioned in May 1915 in the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.
On 1st July 1916, the opening day of the Somme battle, Cather’s battalion was part of the 36th Ulster Division’s assault on the Thiepval Ridge. The first wave left the trenches at zero hour but came under intense machine gun fire, which also decimated the following waves. By nightfall nine officers and 235 men had been killed or wounded out of about 700.
Cather, the battalion adjutant, did not take part in the initial assault but could hear the cries of the wounded out in no man’s land and near the German wire. As evening fell he filled some water bottles and crawled out to help them, dragging or carrying many of the wounded to where the stretcher bearers could pick them up. There was heavy German artillery and machine gun fire throughout the four hours in which he was carrying out this work. The next morning he went out again in full view of the enemy trenches to help more of the wounded in no man’s land until he was killed by machine gun fire.
His Victoria Cross was gazetted in September 1916, the citation stressing ‘his conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice’. Cather’s body disappeared in the carnage on Thiepval Ridge.
On Friday and Saturday we played golf in his honour and to remember a past member. The toughest challenge faced was by Tim Vaughan and Ian Simmonds who were playing with buggy reliant Jerry Hyde. It broke down on the 13th leaving Tim and Ian to push it with the President insitu for the next 5 holes. We are all thinking why ??!!
On Friday only 5 played, some regular Friday players deserted the ranks preferring Saturday and no doubt attracted by the free beer and grub courtesy of our Chairman celebrating his 75th birthday. Keith Tushingham posted the best score on the day of 35 points. Keith would finish 8th overall.
Some of the younger guns started well on Saturday, Jacob Willis and Matt Cutler turning with 21 points in the bag, both would fall off the pace on the back 9 finishing with 37 points so in 4th and 5th place respectively. Richard Jashek shot a gross 78 to finish with 38 points in 3rd place. On the same number of points but on count-back James Boulden finished 2nd.
But the glory and the new holder of the Cather VC belongs to Robin Maggs. Finishing strong is important as we all know, especially when count-back may decide the outcome, well Robin blew out at the 16th but recovered with a par up the 17th and then a magnificent eagle 2 for 5 points on the last hole, so gross 79 and 39 points.