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History of Barwon Rowing Club

Chapter 5 - The Heroes of Old 1901-1919

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One good thing about it is that he went out easily and with no pain - some of the poor chaps suffer hell. His grave has been cared for. It has a cross at the head with a bottle buried six inches also at the head, with full particulars in case his people should ever visit this place. I have taken a photograph of the grave and will try and get it to his people.

Jack Paul, All we know of him is that he was wounded during the retreat on 25th April. He and his party chased Turks inland till ammunition was running short, and they had to come back to our present position. When he was hit five fellows went to bring him in under heavy machine gun and shrapnel fire. He ordered them to leave him and save themselves. They however went to get hold of him when drew his revolver on them, so they left him. On the day of the armistice they hunted everywhere for his body, but could not find it, so we hope he is a prisoner in the Turk's hands.

Dalgety and Co. learnt later from Paul's father that he had a further three weeks of fighting before he was killed in action on May 20. He was described as a successful rower with a fine physique and one of the most dashing lieutenants in the AIF camp. Private Norman Hurst concluded his letter with:

As regards myself, I never felt better and have managed to dodge bullets so far. Paper is about settled, so must stop and get some sleep. We have to get forty winks when we can on this job, because one never knows when another chance will come. A hot bath, whisky and soda, cigars and a dinner would go well now. Kindest regards to the staff.

During 1916 eight more rowers enlisted, making a total of 31. The club's honour board was instituted at the beginning of the year, a gift of the president, T. Bostock. It already contained the names of 42 past and present members. Two rowers, A. Reid and R. Barnfather, were both killed on the same day, 29 July at Fleurbaix in France. By 1917 there were 40 members at the front and four more deaths: Lieutenant F. Lascelles of the Kings Royal Rifles killed in action in France; Murray Storrer's brother, H. Storrer of the Australian Flying Corps, killed in France; Lieutenant Anderson of the 8th Light Horse killed at the Gaza battle in Egypt and Corporal N. Fegan killed in action in France. This year saw also the death of one of the club's founders, Edward Lascelles. The last year of the war brought two more deaths: Lance-Corporal William Zimmer in France and W. Allen.

At a special general meeting held on 28 May 1919, the club decided to erect a memorial to its fallen in the rowing reserve. A design and specification submitted by Wilcox Bros. for £1 33, £7 extra for a laurel wreath, was accepted. It was decided to position the memorial in line with a stump and the Grammar and Barwon sheds, and L. Storrer, father of the two Storrer boys killed during the war, provided the bluestone for the base. The collection of donations commenced immediately and by January 1920 more than £100 had been received.

The Barwon Regatta of March 1920, the first since 1915, was chosen as the day for the unveiling. The regatta course had been improved with the bend cut away, reeds on the south bank cut and the course shortened to one mile. Forty-six crews competed and the Mayor of Geelong, Howard Hitchcock, promised a prize of 10 guineas to whichever local crew repeated its winning performance from the week before at Ballarat, where Corio Bay had won the Senior Eight and Barwon the Maiden Eight. The local oarsmen unloaded the Melbourne clubs' boats and wheeled them down to the river. Barwon won the Maiden Eight by less than a length from Wendouree, after rowing two heats and a final. C. Collyer of Barwon won the Senior Scull by four lengths. The resumption of competitive rowing was celebrated with many attractions, including St. Augustine's Band in the bandstand and afternoon tea on the reserve lawns. There was a monster aeroplane-kite flying display by J. Dungan and Lieutenant Pratt gave joy rides and dropped advertising material from his De Haviland aeroplane departing from Belmont Common. The racing programme was suspended for fifteen minutes at 3 o'clock when the memorial was unveiled. President Bostock pointed out that of the eight members who had rowed in the 1914 regatta, five of their names were on the memorial. He went on to say :

This memorial was erected by the members to act as an incentive to the younger generation to emulate those noble qualities which the men, whose memory the column perpetuated, had displayed. It might also induce some to take up rowing as a pastime. Rowing as a sport exemplified self-denial, and that splendid spirit of ' playing for the side and not for the individual' . That the club was composed of men with the truest and noblest instincts was demonstrated by the splendid war record achieved. Of the 1914 active members, there were 47 who had volunteered for active service, one of whom had been awarded the DSO (Lieuten­ant-colonel Neil Freeman), two the MC, besides other decorations and honours. The club members felt that they could not foget those who had made the greatest sacrifice of all; their memory would never be forgotten.

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