after messages were sent out from the clubhouse informing them that
they were required to return to their Territorial units immediately.
The Ryder Cup captain, Henry Cotton, was in Germany playing in the German Open. In view of the dangerous political situation he had driven to the tournament, which was at Bad Elms-just over the French border. Cotton won the trophy for the third consecutive time, but had to leave his prize money (app. £120) with the German Golf Federation due to the ban on taking reichsmarks out of Germany (He eventually received his cheque at the end of 1945). Henry had the foresight to obtain a letter from the President of the Federation, with as many official looking stamps and seals as they possessed.
The day after the championship Henry spent the day looking over the site of a proposed new course at Wiesbaden and, with things looking blacker by the hour, he cut short his trip and headed for the frontier that night (August 24th) After a long anxious wait he got through the German checkpoint, with the aid of the Federation letter requesting that his passage be facilitated. “—with all sorts of “Heil Hitlers!”, recalled Henry, “I drove across the ‘no-man’s land’ between the barriers at racing speed”.
On September 1st the British Government issued an ultimatum to Germany requiring an “undertaking” to withdraw from Poland and ‘Operation Pied Piper’, the evacuation of almost a million children, began immediately; it was completed in three days. On September 3rd Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced to the nation: “I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany”. A few months later Winston Churchill became Prime Minister and gave his famous address to the House of Commons in May, 1940: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, sweat and tears”. It was George Lambert M.P. who wrote to him saying “You have today the complete confidence of Parliament and the nation”. No one who heard his speech could have predicted that it would be six long years before Churchill joined the King and Queen on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to wave to the vast celebrating crowds, as Chamberlain had done in 1938. Lambert’s opponent in the 1933 Parliamentary Handicap was gazetted a Major-General and briefly attached to the British Military Mission in France, but a nazi sypathiser was not welcome and, with his Duchess, his dogs and his golf clubs, the Duke departed to take up his post as Governor of the Bahamas.
With hostilities imminent Britain’s solitary golf tournament was the ‘Craw’s Nest Tassie’ at Carnoustie, where Caddies were required to carry some extra equipment – their own gas masks and those of their employers.
On September 5th the Times reported that the Ryder Cup had been cancelled. The PGA secretary and Team Manager, Commander R. C. T. Roe, sent his regrets to the Americans and was soon to return to naval duties, keeping an eye on PGA affairs in his spare time. Like brother George before me, I was never to get another chance to play in the Ryder Cup and, unlike George, my name never even appeared in the records. The Gadds were just not destined to be Ryder Cup players. I suppose I should have joined George on the list of those selected who never got a game, but no documents relating to my selection , or of the other two short listed players, have been found - so that list remains at seven.
[On September 16th Bernard Darwin wrote in the Times: “Golf in the competitive sense is for the moment dead”, but it did in fact revive and survived well into 1940. On the 23rd of the month the Times announced that Henry Cotton would be meeting members of the Ryder Cup side that would have travelled to America, in exhibition matches in aid of the Red Cross. In 1940 Bert played in one of these events at the Northumberland Golf Club, Gosforth Park, adding further credence to his having been selected. His partner was Bill Green of Tynemouth G. C. and Cotton was partnered by Dick Burton. Henry had to hole a three yard putt at the last to square the match. A crowd of 3000 attended the match, £400 being raised from gate receipts and an auction of the balls used by the players.]
[On August 11th, 1939 Charles Gadd’s obituary appeared in the Times, his death having occurred the previous day, just thirty years after he had begun his professional career at Market Drayton and fifteen years since he had become Brancepeth Castle’s first professional.] Bert wrote the following tribute:
It was in that first year of the war that my brother Charles died at his home in Brancepeth. At the age of forty-seven he had finally become a victim of the first conflict, having suffered from his shattered leg for twenty years and often been in severe pain. Charles was much loved and respected in the North East, where he had an impressive record. His achievements were all the more remarkable when you consider that he was unable to put his weight on his injured left leg so had to use his right leg as the main support throughout his swing. He would surely have achieved national fame and could well have been the Gadd to play in the Ryder Cup if he had not had such a severe disability.