On 27 August, 2012, HTBS’s Tim Koch wrote a long wonderful piece about a most astonishing man, Noel Duckworth, who was a Cambridge and Olympic cox, and, during the Second World War, a strong unconquerable prisoner-of-war in different Japanese prison camps.
Duckworth’s biographer Michael Smyth has just come out with a book about him, Canon Noel Duckworth: An Extraordinary Life (September 2012). Copies are available from Churchill College, Cambridge, via their website, here. The book is £8.99 + pp.
In the blog post Noel Duckworth: ‘Small of Stature, Great of Heart’ Tim wrote:
“‘Hear The Boat Sing’ has in the past written about rowers with outstanding war records. The sort of personal qualities that are needed to be successful as an oarsman are also those that can produce great soldiers. But what of coxswains, people who need very different qualities to those that pull the oar? Coxes are physically small but need to gain the respect of those who are much more powerful than they are. They have to get the best out of people without alienating themselves from them. They need to remain calm and thoughtful under pressure. I have recently discovered the story a man who used the personal attributes that enabled him to be an exceptional cox to incredible effect in the full horror of war. His biographer, Michael Smyth, says this of him:
[He] was one of those rare men who will always be remembered by everyone who ever met him. He had enormous charisma, great strength of will, but above all dedicated his life to the needs of others.”
To read Tim’s whole article, please click here.
While in Singapore last month, I made the tourist office aware of the imminent publication of this book as an addition to their material on Changi in the war years. As a past resident of Singapore and someone who married by Noel over 40 years ago and also a member of the first ever Churchill boat to win its oars, I guess our history is bound up together.
jeremy Burton (Churchill 61-64)