The promising Sunderland cricketer whose life was cut short

A Sunderland man is featured in a new book about the talented sportsmen who died in the Second World War.

Friday, 12th January 2018, 10:52 am
Updated Friday, 12th January 2018, 10:55 am
Denys Witherington, front extreme left, pictured in 1938 at Leys School.

Hendon-born Denys Witherington was only 22 when he was was killed in action during the Battle of Anzio on February 16, 1944.

The talented Wearside cricketer is among dozens featured in a new book – written by Nigel McCrery – called The Coming Storm: Test and First-Class Cricketers Killed in World War Two. It includes each man’s career details, including cricketing statistics, and the circumstances of death.

Englands rugby union team, pictured at their last game before the outbreak of war.

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Denys was born in July 1921, one of three sons to Arthur Simpson and Catherine Witherington.

He went to the Leys School in 1933 and was in their first XI from 1935 to 1938

Later, he went to Cambridge University where he made four first-class appearances. His debut was against Nottinghamshire at FP Fenner’s Ground in May 1939.

During the war, he served as a private with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and after basic training he was sent first to North Africa and then Sicily. He died at Anzio and is buried in the Anzio War Cemetery.

Heverlee, one of the war cemeteries which pay tribute to the fallen of the Second World War.

The outbreak of the Second World War came towards the closing stages of the 1939 cricket season and its toll on the sport is recorded in Nigel’s book.

The West Indies touring team cancelled their last five matches and sailed home, and the treasures at Lord’s, including the Ashes, were sent to a secret location for safe-keeping.

Twelve test cricketers (including five English, two South Africans, one Australian and one New Zealander) were among those who died.

Other sports such as rugby union were also affected by the war.

The cover of the book.

Nigel’s book is £25 and has been published by Pen and Sword. To order a copy, visit https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk.

Englands rugby union team, pictured at their last game before the outbreak of war.
Heverlee, one of the war cemeteries which pay tribute to the fallen of the Second World War.
The cover of the book.