George F Stooke
Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)
The following obituary appeared in the Club's 1970-71 annual report.
The late George Stooke was a good Mercantilian. He was a natural in aquatic sports and as a lad was a first-class swimmer. Among his successes he set a record for the seven-mile swim down the Yarra, which stood for many years.
He later joined Mercantile and competed successfully in maiden and junior events. As a member of the Social Committee, he assisted in organising dances and other social events and participated in full in the life of the Club, including some memorable trips to country regattas.
After his racing days were over he became a keen yachtsman and built himself more than one racing craft.
When World War II. broke out he naturally joined the Navy. Skippering a not very seaworthy craft around the coast of Northern Australia, he was fortunate to escape with moderate injuries from continuous bombing by Japanese planes while evacuating women and children from Portuguese Timor.
Fellow members saw a good deal of him in Darwin, where the Navy mess had considerable liquid advantages over Army messes. Their final encounter with him during the war was on a Liberty ship in Townsville harbour while waiting for a convoy to New Guinea. He came aboard carrying a case, the contents of which were most acceptable on a dry ship.
After the war his health deteriorated due to his service, and necessitated frequent periods in Heidelberg Military Hospital, where he eventually died, most certainly in the service of his country.
Extracted by Andrew Guerin