Jack Beresford: an Olympian at War

John Beresford


Historically, men have had two great chances to prove their mettle; in battle and in sport. While many are aware that Jack Beresford was one of Britain’s greatest oarsmen, this affectionate but unsentimental tribute by his son, John, reveals what few knew, that Beresford served his country with distinction in war as well as in peace, and both with a modesty that is usually indicative of true merit.
It is commonly said, show me the boy and I’ll show you the man, and this work reveals that Jack the schoolboy, the soldier and the sportsman was driven by the same strict principles of duty and hard word throughout his life.

This is, says John, the story that his Father never wrote. It is also a story with a delicious (if vicious) irony; the German bullet that wounded 19-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Beresford in 1918 led to him abandoning rugby and taking up rowing. Eighteen years later, the German favourites to win the Olympic Double Sculls paid the price of Jack’s change of sport as, in the final’s last 100 metres, Dick Southwood and Jack Beresford rowed them to a standstill to win Olympic Gold. Tim Koch, Rowing Historian.