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australian rowers profiles and history

LT COL Henry (Harry) E Butler

Civil Service Rowing Club then Melbourne Rowing Club after the Clubs merged in 1922 (VIC)

18th April 1885 to 16th May 1957 - 72 years old

Harry Butler was an excellent administrator who served the sport of rowing with distinction of a long period of time.

Henry Edmund Butler, known as Harry, was born in Queensland. He became a Commonwealth Public Servant requiring him to move to Melbourne. He was a tall young man for that time with height on his WWI record of 6 feet 1 1/2 inches.

His service record shows that the military used his administrative skills fully rising to the rank of Staff Captain in London during WWI. His service was not a front line soldier. His service was brought to an end when he requested a return to Australia in 1917 and paid his own passage back to Australia. The reasons for this move are not known and of course could be for work or personal reasons.

In 1940, he rejoined at the age of 55 years 2 months old and again served as a staff officer, this time in Melbourne. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and remained in the service until 28 May 1947. It is most likely that this was his last job being 63 years old at that time.

His administrative duties were used well by the sport being President of his Club for 10 years from 1941 after serving as Captain in 1920s and early 1930s. However he is best known for his work for the Victorian Rowing Association (now Rowing Victoria).

The following was published in the VRA annual report in 1953.

All members will learn with regret of the resignation because of ill health of our Honorary Secretary, Mr. H. E. Butler. 

Butler has suffered a long illness and his friends will be glad to know that since he has gone home to his family in Queensland he is enjoying better health. All members will join in wishing Harry a long and happy retirement.

A farewell evening attended by more than a hundred of his friends was held in his honor prior to his departure for Queensland at which a presentation of a Cup for perpetual competition by the Junior Eights at the V.R.A. Melbourne Regatta was made on behalf of the Melbourne Rowing Club and the Victorian Rowing Association.

The service rendered to rowing by Mr. Butler has helped put the sport in the strong position it occupiers in both Victoria and Australia today. He has-been a member of the Committee of the Association for 30 years, first as a delegate for the Melbourne Rowing Club and then as an Elected Member, Assistant Honorary Secretary, and 20 years as Honorary Secretary. Members of 14 Victorian crews will remember him for the manner in which he looked after their welfare when competing for the King's Cup.

His on water rowing is less spectacular with recorded wins in Victoria limited to the following. There may be more in Queensland prior to him coming to Melbourne.

1914 - Army Regimental Fours, three seat - First

1919 - Colac Regatta, Maiden Eight, five seat - First

Andrew Guerin
February 2024


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