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australian rowers profiles and history

LT Reginald McC Abernethy

Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC) and Shepparton Rowing Club (VIC)

Reginald McClure Abernethy was a superb young athlete whose life was sadly cut short by service in WWI.

He hailed from Shepparton where his father was the local solicitor but finished his schooling at Wesley College Melbourne, along with at least one of his younger brothers.

His school rowing record is outstanding, three starts in the Head of the River for three wins. His University Championship record is much the same with two wins from two starts.

Reg as stroke of the winning Wesley crew in 1912

Following university, he qualified as a school teacher returning to Shepparton where he enlisted in 1915. He was large for those times being 6 ft tall and 12 st in weight - fair haired with blue eyes.

His service commenced as a gunner but was promoted in the field in France to Assistant Bombadier by November 1916, then Bombadier, then to second Lieutenant in 1917 and finally Lieutenant from May 1918 just prior to his death.

Reginald nearly survived the war but was killed in action on 22nd May 1918 when an enemy aircraft bombed his site on a night raid. A small piece of bomb shrapnel pierced his chest and he died almost immediately. He was buried in the cemetery in the village of Frenchencourt (Somme) near Amiens.

A sad end to such a promising life.

Rowing record summary

1910 - APS Head of the River, Wesley College First Eight, three seat - First

1911 - APS Head of the River, Wesley College First Eight, seven seat - First

1912 - Nagambie Regatta, Maiden Four, three seat - First

1912 - APS Head of the River, Wesley College First Eight, stroke - First

1913 - Australian University Championship Men's Eight, four seat - First

1914 - Australian Henley, Grand Challenge Cup, six seat - First

1914 - Australian University Championship Men's Eight, six seat - First

Andrew Guerin
December 2022

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