Exeter City honour ex-player and fallen WWI soldier Fred Hunt in Palestine

Exeter City have honoured one of their former players, who died in World War One, thanks to some international co-operation.

A wreath has been laid on the grave of Exeter-born Fred Hunt, a Grecians player prior to the First World War who died of pneumonia in 1918 and was buried in the Gaza War Cemetery.

Hunt, a full-back, was described as ‘a very keen and clever footballer, being of fine physique’. He volunteered for active service soon after the outbreak of the war and served in India and Egypt but died shortly before the armistice.

It had long been the wish of Exeter City to honour Hunt, but distance and the location of the grave meant doing so was a major challenge.

The breakthrough came because of the initiative of Suaad Genem George, a member of the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust.

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Suaad, a Palestinian native, contacted friends back home who visited the Gaza War Cemetery where Hunt is buried.
There they found the grave and have now laid a wreath from the Devon club together with personal messages from Exeter fans.

“When we started researching former Exeter players who had died in the First World War, we found 13 who had, and Fred Hunt was one of those,” said Martin Weiler, Exeter City Football Club Museum Trust Trustee.

“We put up a plaque at the club but we also wanted to visit their graves all around the world. The one that was proving the biggest challenge was Fred Hunt because he was buried in Gaza.

“There were issues with access which made that really difficult but then we realised we have a Palestinian supporter and she got in touch with friends in Gaza.

“A little boy laid a football because he said he loved football and he wanted Fred Hunt to know he loved football just as much as Fred did.

“They also laid olive branches as a symbol of international peace, love and harmony.”

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