Remembrance Day: researching what your club’s rowers did in past conflicts

Sunday 8 November is Remembrance Sunday. Mark Dewdney provides tips on discovering the stories of rowers who served in past conflicts at your club


AB Smith, PS Thompson and LC Morgan

Every rowing club, of a certain age, has a name on a memorial, a name on a trophy or a face in a dusty old photograph. A rower long since forgotten. And as another lockdown begins, what better time to find out about some of these rowers from the past?

The three men in the picture above are at Stratford upon Avon BC’s 1905 Regatta and all three are on Stratford’s war memorial, from left: AB Smith, PS Thompson and LC Morgan.

Research tips

  1. The golden rule: always make sure you have the right person!
  2. Start with the least common name to get used to the process.
  3. Gather all the information your club holds.
  4. Use websites that give access to original records – military, census records etc. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is a good place to start.
  5. Contact local researchers – schools, history societies etc.
  6. For World War One, the Great War Forum is also a useful resource for free advice.

It was relatively easy to discover that Alfred Smith went to King Edward VI School in Stratford, thanks to a book about old boys who died in World War One.

Military records at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and elsewhere revealed that Patrick Thompson won the Military Cross while Leopold Morgan fought in the New Zealand Army.

Another Stratford rower – William Norman Kinman – is also on the club war memorial. Again, from military records, we know that he enlisted when World War One broke out in 1914. He won the Military Medal twice.

Why not find out about your club members in past wars and bring those names on your war memorial back to life.

Thanks to Mark Dewdney for the research tips. Mark worked at the Army Medal Office for over five years.