Left: Announcement in the Harrow Observer on 7thOctober 1943 that Lance Corporal Charles Ernest Bunce had died at the hands of the Japanese.
The announcement of the death of Charlie Bunce originally appeared in Wealdstone’s matchday programme for their game against Barnet at Lower Mead, Wealdstone, on 2ndOctober. It was stated that, at the time, the cause of death was not known. It was later established that he was in Singapore at the time of the brutal, and successful, invasion by the Japanese. Forced to work on the construction of the Burma railway, he contracted malaria and this, eventually, led to his death. Charlie was aged 30 and died on 25thJune 1943. He was survived by his parents, William and Alice, and his wife Irene May. Charlie Bunce joined the Army, Suffolk Regiment, in 1940 and was sent to the Far East. He was reported as missing following the fall of Singapore, but after a prolonged silence news was received that he was a prisoner of war in Malaya.
To mark his passing, a one minute silence was held prior to Wealdstone’s match with Barnet and this was followed by the Last Post and Reveille, played by the buglers of the Harrow Sea Cadets.
Lance Corporal Charles Bunce. Service number: 5832498
1stBattalion. The Cambridgeshire Regiment, Suffolk Regiment.
Charles Bunce was entitled to receive both the War Medal and the 1939-45 Star. He is commemorated at the Kranji Commonwealth War Cemetery.
CHARLIE BUNCE THE FOOTBALLER
Charlie Bunce was a goal scoring phenomenon. His arrival at Clarence Park, as an 18-year-old for the start of the 1931-32 season, came at a time when the career of City’s all time top goal scorer, Wilfred ‘Billy’ Minter, was on the wane, and the teenager proved to be the perfect replacement. That said, he did not score in his first seven games and netted just once in his opening 11 games. By comparison, Minter’s first 11 games yielded 15 goals. Bunce was unfortunate in that he joined St Albans City at a time when the club, following the most glorious decade of its history, was in decline. Even so, he did play in six cup finals, albeit in minor competitions. Strangely, he did not score in any of these finals. Winners’ medals were gained in the AFA invitation Cup in 1934 and the Herts Senior Cup a year later. Defeats were suffered in the Herts Charity Cup (1932, 1934 and 1935) and the AFA Cup (1933). Charlie played 174 times for the City, scoring 148 goals. In addition to 11 hat-tricks he scored four goals in a game on four occasions, five goals once and a six during a 9-2 win over Wycombe Wanderers on Christmas Day 1935. Charlie left St Albans City at the end of the 1935-36 season, citing personal reasons, and signed for Wealdstone for whom he scored a further 174 goals in four seasons. He gained representative honours with the Isthmian League, Athenian League, Hertfordshire and played for The South v The North, which, effectively, was a trial match for the Amateur England side.