John Somers-Smith

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Olympic medal record
Men's Rowing
Gold 1908 London Men's coxless fours

John Robert Somers-Smith (15 December 1887 – 1 July 1916) was a British rower who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics. He was killed in action during the First World War.

Somers-Smith was born at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, the son of Robert Vernon Somers-Smith and his wife Gertrude. His father ran for Oxford against Cambridge in 1868 and 1869 and was twice the AAA half-mile champion.[1][2] Somers-Smith was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he rowed for his college. Although he did not row for Oxford, his brother, Richard Somers-Smith rowed for Oxford in the Boat Race in 1904 and 1905. The Magdalen College Coxless four won the Stewards' Challenge Cup and the Visitors' Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 1907 and 1908.[3] The Magdalen crew was chosen to represent Great Britain rowing at the 1908 Summer Olympics, and Somers-Smith was strokeman in the four with Collier Cudmore, Angus Gillan and Duncan Mackinnon. The crew won the gold medal for Great Britain and defeated a Leander crew.[4]

Somers-Smith became a member of Leander Club and was a member of the Leander crew that won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley in 1910 and 1911. He subsequently became a lawyer by profession.

Somers-Smith served with the London Rifle Brigade of the British Army during the First World War, and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in action as a captain in 1915 at the 2nd Battle of Ypres. He fell in action at the opening of the Battle of the Somme offensive on 1 July 1916 during the assault by the 56th (London) Division at Gommecourt. His body was not recovered and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial nearby.[5]


  1. ^ Montague Sherman Athletics and Football
  2. ^ Robert Vernon Somers Smith, G. P. Beckley, and Alfred William Pollard Athletic Training. Prize essays 1882
  3. ^ Henley Royal Regatta Results of Final Races 1839-1939
  4. ^ Sports Reference Olympic Sports - John Somers-Smith
  5. ^ Somers-Smith, John Robert, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Retrieved 19 August 2008

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