Sixty-two years ago today, on 31 July 1943, Hedley Verity died of wounds in Italy. He was 38:
He received his wounds in the Eighth Army's first attack on the German positions at Catania, in Sicily. Eye-witnesses, who were a few yards from Verity when he was hit, have told the story. The objective was a ridge with strong points and pillboxes. Behind a creeping barrage Verity led his company forward 700 yards. When the barrage ceased, they went on another 300 yards and neared the ridge, in darkness. As the men advanced, through corn two feet high, tracer-bullets swept into them. Then they wriggled through the corn, Verity encouraging them with "Keep going, keep going." The moon was at their back, and the enemy used mortar-fire, Very lights and fire-bombs, setting the corn alight. The strongest point appeared to be a farm-house, to the left of the ridge; so Verity sent one platoon round to take the farm-house, while the other gave covering fire. The enemy fire increased, and, as they crept forward, Verity was hit in the chest. "Keep going," he said, "and get them out of that farm-house." When it was decided to withdraw, they last saw Verity lying on the ground, in front of the burning corn, his head supported by his batman...See also here:
Judged by any standard, Verity was a great bowler. Merely to watch him was to know that. The balance of the run up, the high ease of the left-handed action, the scrupulous length, the pensive variety, all proclaimed the master.
He is the only cricketer who has taken 14 wickets in a day in a Test match, this feat being performed against Australia at Lord's in the second Test, 1934.
As he lay dying in a Prisoner of War hospital in Italy in July 1943, he is said to have told his batman, 'I think I have played my last innings for Yorkshire'.And here is a poem by Drummond Allison, also killed in action in Italy, at the age of 22:
Verity - by Drummond Allison(Thanks: Bob B.)
The ruth and truth you taught have come full-circle
On that fell island all whose history lies,
Far now from Bramhall Lane and far from Scarborough
You recollect how foolish are the wise.
On this great ground more marvellous than Lord's
- Time takes more spin than nineteen thirty four -
You face at last that vast that Bradman-shaming
Batsman whose cuts obey no natural law.
Run up again, as gravely smile as ever,
Veer without fear your left unlucky arm
In His so dark direction, but no length
However lovely can disturb the harm
That is His style, defer the winning drive
Or shake the crowd from their uproarious calm.