East Texan Made & Preserves History - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/30/08-Lindale

East Texan Made & Preserves History

B.G. Irby played football at Gladewater High School in the early 1950's. He would then join the Air Force and was stationed in London.

B.G. took his game overseas as well.

"It took your mind off of other things because you had to concentrate on the game and what the game plan was," he said.

B.G. suited up for the London Rockets. London was still tipping towards reconstruction from World War II. Air Force leaders and the Rockets coach wanted to memorialize those who lost their life during the war.

The idea was born to play the first ever American football game at Wembley Stadium as a fundraiser.

"It was sold on the fact that it would be a to raise funds to build a memorial to airmen and other soldiers that gave their life during World War II memorial that were stationed in and around the England area," B.G. explained.

The historic game was played on December 1, 1956. The rockets met with the Wiesbaden Flyers. The game was broadcast on the BBC and $250,000 was raised for the memorial.

"It was almost breathtaking when you first walk out there (Wembley Stadium) and see how gigantic that place is and the wonderful turf we played on," B.G. said. "This was the first time a lot of the British people had ever seen American football game. It was something new and exciting to them."

The memorial still stands in St. Clement Danes church in London. The Air Force not only gave London their first American game at Wembley, they gave the world the first World War II memorial.

"There's a lot of people that don't realize that this is there and a lot of these people that lost their lives have families," B.G. said. "I'm sure they aren't aware of this."

B.G. wants to spread the word about the monument. He says the game mattered, but he memorial matters much more.

"Let them know there is a memorial there for their family recognizing what they did for their country."

For more information you can visit: http://www.wwiis1stmemorial.com

 

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