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australian rowers profiles and history

Graeme L Wilson


Graeme Langdon Wilson was born in Brisbane 26th September 1917. Originally from Victoria Point, he was a boarder at BBC (Brisbane Boys’ College) from 1931 -1935 where he was captain of rowing, rugby, athletics and ultimately school captain. He also was a member of the victorious 1935 Head of the River crew, see for more information. 

An excerpt from the 1935 School Newsletter reads:

“G. L. Wilson (3): Captain of the Rowing Club. A very powerful oar, possessing a strong leg drive, good catch, and firm finish. Developed a tendency to swing out at the finish. Blade work and hands good.”

Wilson was awarded an open scholarship to the The University of Queensland and studied at Emmanuel College 1936-1939. He was second in the Australian Championships at 120 yards and hurdles in 1937. He was a member of the Australian team for the British Empire Games (now Commonwealth Games) held in Sydney in 1938 and Captain of the combined Australian Universities team to tour New Zealand that same year. Graeme graduated with a BAgrSc Hons 1 with the University Medal in 1939 and was named a Queensland Rhodes Scholar for 1940. 

On 1st July 1941 Graeme enlisted in the Australian Army at Victoria Point and began military service with the AIF. He was sent to Malaya as lieutenant in the 2/26th Battallion AIF. In 1942 he was captured at the fall of Singapore and imprisoned as a Japanese POW (spending some time on the Thai - Burma Death Railway). He returned to Australia discharged on 22nd November 1945 and married Joy Fisher. 

Graeme then attended Oxford through his deferred Rhodes Scholarship. From 1946-1949 he was at Oxford and graduated with a DPhil. He commented that while the Oxford experience was wonderful, he was far beyond being an ordinary student with his marital status, age and war record. 

In 1950 Graeme was appointed to a lectureship in Botany at UQ. He rose to Reader in 1967 and transferred to Agriculture. In 1970 he was made professor of Agriculture, and in 1981-1982 was Dean of Faculty. He retired in 1982, when he was made professor Emeritus. During his time at UQ he was president of the Old Branch of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and made a Fellow (FAIAS). He was also Chairman of the University Recreation Areas Committee and President of the Rotary Club of Brisbane. 

John McDonald
February 2021


Page 37, The Portal, December 1940 Edition via Trove

Page 88, The Portal, December 1935 Edition via Trove

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