Anzac Centenary: The Victorious Team that left behind their Oars for War

Barwon Rowing Club’s Maiden Eight 1914.
Barwon Rowing Club’s Maiden Eight 1914.

Greg Denieffe writes:

Louis Petrin’s splendid article Rowing to War – Lest we Forget published on HTBS on ANZAC Day focused on an individual, Tom Whyte, a member of Mercantile Rowing Club in Adelaide. I always find it easier to relate to the horror of war when this is the case.

Another Australian rowing club that lost members in the Great War was Barwon Rowing Club, South Geelong, Victoria. In 1914, their maiden eight won at Ballarat Regatta. The following year all of them signed up for the war effort. Most of them did not return.

Their sacrifice is commemorated on an honour roll at the Barwon Rowing Club and former club president, Karen O’Connor has been researching their fascinating story for years.

Not surprisingly, Barwon Rowing Club’s war memorial has featured before on HTBS in Tim Koch’s The Oarsmen’s Cenotaphs.

The memorial is a broken column, symbolising a young life cut short. The inscription reads:

Erected by members of Barwon Rowing Club in honour of their fellow members who paid the supreme sacrifice in the cause of honour, justice and freedom in the Great War 1914-1918.

Last week, a short report by Margaret Burin of ABC Ballarat featured a video about the Barwon club’s loss. It features O’Connor paying tribute to the five members of that maiden eight that did not return – watch it here.

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott chose to refer to one of the five, Lieut. John Charles Paul when giving his message of remembrance to the Geelong Advertiser.

By remembering one man, we remember them all.

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