Nigel McCrery
This is a collection of chapters, each detailing the life of 42 men who died in World War One. Their lives are linked because each studied at Cambridge or Oxford University and rowed in at least one University Boat Race. The chapters are ordered by date of death. Each chapter begins with a brief early life biography, then extensive details of the Boat Race(s) in which each man rowed. The earliest Boat Race described is 1878, in which a man from University College Oxford rowed and was in the winning boat. He became a doctor and, as Lt Col William Augustine Ellison of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ Royal Berkshire Regiment, died of illness on 1st November 1917. Of the sixteen rowers in the 1914 Boat Race, the last before outbreak of war and suspension of races until 1920, five died during the Great War. The Races of 1908 and 1910 each lost seven rowers, although the man from Trinity College Cambridge, who became Lt Edward Gordon Williams of Grenadier Guards, rowed in both, as well as 1909. He died in an accident on 12th August 1915. Although several Races from 1893 onwards are listed several times, the text is not repeated.

Following the Boat Race description, life after university, civilian career where there was time before war broke out, and a brief outline of military career are described. Manner of death and location of memorials are also stated.

The book contains a good selection of black and white illustrations, with a military photographic portrait of each man, plus photographs of rowing crews, race programmes, medals etc. Unfortunately, in some cases, the scanning resolution is poor.

The book concludes with appendices on History of the Boat Race, The Race Course, Rowing Terms, List of Names (by University, stating College attended, Boat Races in which rowed, rank, regiment and date of death), Boat Race Results 1829 to 1920, Rowers by Boat Race Year, and finally, Rowers by College. There is a comprehensive Bibliography of published material and memorial books. The Index is extensive and detailed. Along with the chapter structure, this makes it easy to dip in and out of this informative book.

The balance of information for each life is far more about Boat Races than military service, so this book will probably appeal more to those with links to Cambridge or Oxford University than the Royal Navy or Army.

Published February 2017 by The History Press ISBN 978 0 7509 6771 6 Hardback £20.00

Amazon product
First release
Last update
0.00 star(s) 0 ratings

More resources from copepod