6 June 2017
Tim Koch is on parade again:
In my recent ‘nothing to do with rowing’ piece on ‘Cavalry Sunday’, I noted that it was posted on the grounds that those who are interested in rowing history tend to like military history as well. The subsequent comments that I received seemed to support this idea. Of course, links between rowing and the military can be strong – as my recent post on the history of the Brigade of Guards Boat Club showed.
Below is a probably incomplete list of trophy winning armed forces’ clubs at Henley. I suspect that HTBS Types will add some more:
Guards Brigade RC – Diamonds (Fox), 1901
Household Brigade BC – Diamonds (Darell), 1907
Royal Air Force – Thames and Wyfolds, 1953, Double, 1956
Royal Engineers – Wyfolds, 1950, 1954 and 1956
Force Navale Belge – Wyfolds, 1962
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – Ladies’ Plate, 1963
Centre Sportif des Forces de l’Armée Française – Grand, 1956
Central Sport Club of the USSR Navy – Grand, 1961 and 1962
Army Rowing Club – Wyfolds, 2005 and Britannia 2006
Soviet Army, USSR – Grand, 1987
Because of the fact that units of the armed forces are widely spread, it is very difficult to draw on the undoubted sporting talents that must exist in bodies composed of fit young people, particularly for a crew sport like rowing. As a consequence, the level of activity and success of the forces rowing clubs varies with random circumstances. At present, the Royal Air Force Rowing Club (founded 1947) and the Army Rowing Club (founded 1967) seem to be the most active, the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Amateur Rowing Association (founded 1964) less so (this 2013 news story says that ‘rowing in the Royal Navy has about 60 regular members with clubs in Faslane, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Dartmouth). In the 2016 Henley qualifying races, there were unsuccessful attempts at a place in the regatta by the Air Force (Thames), the Navy (Britannia) and the Army (Diamonds).
In recent years, British rowing has especially benefited from the talents of two serving members of its armed forces.