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100 years on from WWI - The AOC remembers Olympians who made the ultimate sacrifice

10 November 2018

AOC: Sunday 11 November 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the first World War, when many courageous Australians made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of their country, including three Australian Olympians.

Cecil Healy (swimming), Keith Heritage (rowing) and Claude Ross (athletics) –  each of whom represented Australia at Stockholm 1912, later enlisted to serve in WWI. These three men ultimately lost their lives fighting for the freedom Australians enjoy today.

Healy was Australia's only medallist to have died at war, winning gold and silver for Australia at Stockholm, and was one of nine medallists enlisted in the war.

Along with Healy, Heritage and Ross, multiple other Australian Olympians served in WW1 including Healy's teammate and triple swimming medallist, Harold Hardwick (1 gold, 2 bronze) and fellow swimmer Frank Beaurepaire who was a dual medallist at each of London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924. 

Six members of the gold medal-winning rugby team from London 1908 enlisted. After playing for the First Wallabies in 1908 Daniel ‘Danny’ Carroll won gold again in Antwerp 1920, for the United States. He served, and was decorated, with the US Army during the war. 

In total, 16 men who returned from the war went on to compete at subsequent Olympic Games. Along with Carroll’s historic second gold medal, other medallists were swimmers Ivan Stedman and Harry Hay who joined with Frank Beaurepaire to win relay silver at Antwerp 1920 and Nick Winter who won triple jump gold in Paris 1924.

You can learn more about the Olympians who were enlisted in WWI below, research is ongoing to determine if there are any others.

40 Olympians enlisted in World War I

Claude Angelo: Wrestling – Paris 1924 

Frank Beaurepaire: Swimming – London 1908 (1 silver, 1 bronze), Antwerp 1920 (1 silver, 1 bronze), Paris 1924 (1 silver, 1 bronze)   

Malcolm Boyd: Athletics – Paris 1924 

Edwin ‘Slip’ Carr: Athletics – Paris 1924 

Daniel ‘Danny’ Carroll: Rugby – London 1908 (gold) and Antwerp 1920 (gold, in US team).

Served, and was decorated, with US Army during WW I 

Frank Cummings: Rowing – Paris 1924 

Simon Fraser: Rowing – Stockholm 1912 

Harold Hardwick: Swimming – Stockholm 1912 (1 gold, 2 bronze) 

Henry ‘Harry’ Hauenstein: Rowing – Stockholm 1912

Awarded a Military Medal in WW I. 

Harry Hay: Swimming – Antwerp 1920 (1 silver) 

Cecil Healy: Swimming – Stockholm 1912 (1 gold, 1 silver)

Known for his medals and great sportsmanship at Stockholm. This Manly surf lifesaver who was recognised for his bravery in the surf was the only Australian medallist to die in WW I.  He was killed at Mont St Quentin, near Peronne on the Somme, 74 days before the end of the war. 

Keith Heritage: Rowing – Stockholm 1912

Was a reserve for the rowing eight at Stockholm, having rowed in the crew that won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley on the way to the Olympic Games.  He was replaced in that crew by Hugh Ward.  A very early volunteer for WW I, he served in New Guinea and Gallipoli.  He then served in France where he was awarded a Military Cross a month prior to being killed at Pozières in July 1916.

Stinton Hewitt: Athletics –Antwerp 1920 

John ‘Darb’ Hickey: Rugby – London 1908 (gold) 

Ernest Hutcheon: Athletics –London 1908 

Walter ‘Wally’ Jarvis: Rowing – Paris 1924 

Wilfrid Kent Hughes: Athletics –Antwerp 1920

In WW I he was awarded a Military Cross and was mentioned in despatches (MID) four times.  He also served, and was decorated, in WW II.  He became the Chairman of the Organising Committee for Melbourne 1956. 

William ‘Billy’ Longworth: Swimming – Stockholm 1912

Joseph Lynch: Athletics – London 1908 

Malcolm McArthur: Rugby – London 1908 (gold)

Awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal in WW I. 

Charles McMurtrie: Rugby – London 1908 (gold)

Cecil McVilly: Rowing – Stockholm 1912

Awarded a Military Cross in WW I. 

Sydney Middleton: Rugby – London 1908 (gold);  Rowing – Stockholm 1912

Served at Gallipoli.  Within weeks of the armistice became organising secretary for the AIF Sports Control Board that provided sporting activities for soldiers waiting return to Australia from England prior to demobilisation.  His wartime decorations included being appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), being awarded the Distinguished Service Order and once MID.

William Murray: Athletics – Stockholm 1912 

Thomas ‘Tom’ Richards: Rugby – London 1908 (gold)

Was at the original Gallipoli landing.  Awarded a Military Cross on the Western Front. 

Claude Ross **: Athletics – Stockholm 1912

Enlisted in the early days of World War I and served at Gallipoli.  He later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and in August 1917 lost his life over France. 

Harry Ross-Soden: Rowing – Stockholm 1912 

John ‘Jack’ Ryrie: Rowing – Stockholm 1912 

Frank Schryver: Swimming – Stockholm 1912

Served at Gallipoli. Awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal and a Military Medal in WW I.   

Arthur Scott: Rowing – Paris 1924 

Ivan Stedman: Swimming – Antwerp 1920 (1 silver), Paris 1924 

W. Allan Stewart: Athletics – Stockholm 1912 

Harvey Sutton: Athletics –London 1908

Twice MID and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his military service in the Middle East.

Theodore ‘Theo’ Tartakover – Swimming – London 1908, Stockholm 1912 

ED ‘Ted’ Thomas: Rowing – Paris 1924 

Ronald ‘Ron’ Thomas: Tennis – Antwerp 1920 

Robert Waley: Rowing – Stockholm 1912 

Hugh Ward: Rowing – Stockholm 1912

Awarded Military Cross and 2 Bars in WW I. 

A James ‘Jim’ Willard: Tennis – Paris 1924 

Awarded a Military Medal and Bar in WW I. 

AW ‘Nick’ Winter: Athletics – Paris 1924 (gold), Amsterdam 1928 

Learn about the Inter-Allied Games HERE, a "mini-olympics" for those soldiers braving the wait to come home.

*With thanks to David Tarbotton and Bruce Coe


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