Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Thursday, August 7, 2014

In Memory of Oarsmen who Died in the Great War

Martinsart's British Cemetery, where F. S. Kelly is buried.

This year media are writing celebratory pieces on the First World War that began 100 years ago, on 28 July 1914 to be more exact. The River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames has just started a very promising blog, Home Front Henley, about the War. Read it here.

HTBS has several times written about oarsmen who fell in the Great War. To mention a few of the more famous ones: Frederick Septimus Kelly, Julian Grenfell, Eric Fairbairn, Guiseppe Sinigaglia and Bernhard von Gaza. We have also posted articles on War Monuments at rowing clubs and other places and war recruitment posters.

In his book The Boat Race: The Story of the First Hundred Races between Oxford and Cambridge (1954) author Gordon Ross lists 42 names of British Blues who paid the ultimate price during the 1914-1918 War - twenty-one Dark Blues and twenty-one Light Blues.

On 1 August Martin Cross published a wonderful piece on FISA’s World Rowing website about the First World War and oarsmen who fought on the battlefields around the world. Read his piece here and watch his video (below) on how he, in May, sculled the River Somme in France to commemorate the brave oarsmen who died:

In the June/July issue of British Rowing’s magazine Rowing & Regatta, Cross also had a well-written piece about his Somme row.

Though the following video has been posted on many places around the web during the last couple of weeks, it is worth watching and listen to over and over again. This is oarsman and composer F. S. Kelly’s Elegy for String Orchestra, written at Gallipoli in memory of Rupert Brooke, the poet and fellow soldier, who had died on board a French hospital ship just off the Greek island of Skyros, where Kelly and his comrades buried Brooke.

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