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Australian Rowers at Henley Royal Regatta

Australians at 1945 Henley Royal Regatta

Danesfield Cup

This regatta was not the normal Henley Royal Regatta and was conducted after the end of hostilities in the European War and before the end of the Pacific War. As it was put together so shortly after the end the fighting, it was akin to the Henley Peace Regatta of 1919. There were only three events which included the Danesfield Cup for open eights. Ther were 23 entries in this event and three lanes were used on a shortened course.


1st Imperial College, 2nd RAAF "A" crew, 3rd Jesus College, Cambridge. Margin: 1 length

Preliminary rounds

Heat - RAAF "A" crew defeated Metropolitan Police. RAAF "B" crew were defeated in their heat.

Semi-Final - RAAF "A" crew defeated Magdalen College by only 3 feet 


Australia was represented by two RAAF crews. 

The RAAF "A" crew was stroked by Max Richardson from SA and included K. Davenport, R. Cook, L. Foley and J. Sheahan from NSW, plus two Victorians and one Queenslander.

No details of the RAAF "B" crew are known to the author.

RD Burnell in his history of the Henley Regatta records as follows.

Royal Henley Regatta, so called to distinguish it from the regular Regattas, was held at Henley in July 1945, only two months after the end of hostilities in Europe, and actually before the end of the war in the Far East. It was, indeed, something of an act of faith, for at the time of the meeting which decided to hold the Regatta-that is, on 15 May 1945-there was no Regatta Office, the Enclosures were stacked with timber, it was doubtful whether any tents could be hired, catering facilities were even more problematical, and, of course, no boats could be carted to Henley at all, unless an allocation of petrol could be obtained. 

In the circumstances a full-scale Regatta was impossible, and the racing took place on one day only, over a shortened course of about a mile, starting at the Barrier, and finishing rather below the normal winning post. But this course was able to accommodate three crews abreast, so that a lot of racing could be packed into a short space of time. 

There were only three events, for specially presented trophies. The Open Eights race, for the Danesfield Cup presented by Mr. A. S. Garton, attracted twenty-three crews. In a semi-final, the Royal Australian Air Force beat Magdalen College Oxford by only three feet, but in the final they lost to Imperial College by a length, with Jesus College Cambridge a length and a half astern. Mr. H. G. Gold presented the Hedsor Cup for School Eights, and this was won by Radley, by one length from Eton, who in turn beat Bedford into third place by three feet. Thus, at last, Radley beat Eton 'at Henley', but were still deprived of the satisfaction of beating them in a straight fight over the full Henley distance, and in the Royal Regatta. The third event was the Barrier Cup for Scullers, presented by Mr. H. A. Steward. It was won by W. E. C. Horwood, from H. P. Henry, by three lengths.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported on Monday 9 July 1945, page 8 as follows:


"A" Crew Reaches Final LONDON, July 7 —AAP.

Australian Air Force oarsmen were dis-appointed in their hope of taking back the Danesfield Cup and place it alongside the King's Cup which their predecessors won at the first Henley regatta after the last war. says, an English rowing expert. In a review of today's event for Australia Associaied Press. The big Australians, who had little time to get together for the Henley event, were bustled out of the race by youngsters from the English clubs end colleges. The Australian B crew did not survlve the first heat, being beaten rather easily by Magdalen College FO M Richardson's A crew beat the stalwart Metropolitan Police easily, but had a hard fight in the semi-final. The Imperial College in the final cut them out with a spurt at well over 40 strokes a minute over the last 300 yards. This was almost inevitable with so big a crew who had had so little practice. There is general agreement as regards actual rowing style the Australians over a full course would have beaten all the other entrants easily. The stroke of the A crew, FO Richardson is from Croydon. South Australia.


  • Henley Regatta - A History, by R D Burnell published by Oxford University Press 1957
  • R.A.A.F. DEFEATED AT HENLEY (1945, July 9). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from 
  • Sydney Rows, by Alan May, published by Sydney Rowing Club 1970
  • Brian Richardson

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