|Todd Family grave|
Alexander Findlater Todd (20 September 1873 – 21 April 1915) was an English rugby union forward who played for Cambridge University and Blackheath FC at club level, and Kent at county level. Todd played international rugby for England and later represented the British Isles team on their tour of South Africa. Todd was an all-round sportsman, captaining his school team in football and playing cricket for Berkshire in 23 matches between 1910 and 1913. The Wisden obituaries of 1915 refer to Todd as a '...capital wicket keeper'.
Todd was born in Lewisham in 1873 to Bruce Beveridge Todd, a wine merchant from Forest Hill, and Phoebe Brooker. He was educated at Mill Hill School before matriculating to Caius College in 1892. He received his BA in 1892, and after leaving university he joined the British Army, and saw action in the Second Boer War with both Roberts' Horse and Carrington's Horse. He rose to the rank of squadron leader during the campaign and was wounded in action. On his return to Britain he set up in business in London, and on 2 December 1902 he married Alice Mary Crean, sister of Thomas Joseph Crean VC with whom Todd toured South Africa in 1896.
In 1914 he joined the special Reserve Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment and reached the rank of captain whilst serving in France during the First World War. In 1915, Todd was part of the British assault on Hill 60 at Ypres Salient and was shot in the neck, as he peered over a trench parapet. His fellow soldiers had been worried that Todd’s height would expose him to snipers “He seemed perfectly regardless of his danger,” recalled a comrade, Private Coleman, “and two or three men remarked that if he stayed there he was bound to be hit, and suddenly they saw him fall.” Todd died of wounds in a casualty clearing station four days later. He was 41 years old and his remains are buried at Poperinge Old Military Cemetery.
Todd was a keen sportsman from a young age, and while at school at Mill Hill he captained both the football and rugby team. On entering Cambridge, he continued his passion for sport and was selected for theCambridge University team. He played in three University Varsity matches, collecting his sporting 'Blues' between 1893 and 1895. On leaving University he joined Blackheath, and would later becoming a leading member of the Kent county team, and was invited to join the touring Barbarian team in 1894.
|Todd is back row, second from right|
Six foot two inches tall, Todd played for Blackheath FC and was invited to join the 1896 British Isles (before they were the Lions) tour of South Africa. Aged 23, he drew admiring comments from both the rugby writers of South Africa and from the ladies. Todd played in all four Tests against South Africa which ended in three wins for the tourists, and a loss in the final game played at Cape Town. In the Second Test, which the British team won by the largest margin, all three tries came from forward positions, one of them was scored by Todd; his first and only international points.
For a more detailed and rounded life story for this remarkable sportsman and soldier the following is recommended - The Final Whistle: the Great War in Fifteen Players’ by Stephen Cooper (The History Press)