(1940) (1943) (1944) (1945) 1946 1947 1948 1949
BOAT RACE 1940 - 1949

Oxford University v Cambridge University

During the second World war there were four unofficial Boat Races -

2nd March 1940, Unoffical Boat Race at Henley

In 1940, Cambridge won the unofficial race by 9 lengths in a time of 9 minutes and 28 seconds.
Photo
The Cambridge Crew:


Cambridge, 1940

1943, Unofficial Boat Race at Sandford

In 1943, Oxford won by 2/3 length.

In 1943, the second Wartime Boat Race between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was held on the Thames at Sandford. Like the first, it was unofficial and no Blues were awarded. However, public enthusiasm was high and the river banks were thronged with spectators, all of whom had to reach the course either by bicycle or on foot. Contemporary newspaper reports estimate the crowd at between seven and ten thousand. The Cambridge crew, unusually for the time, included a Dane at bow and a Turk at number four. The Oxford crew included four medical students. The race was rowed between the narrow banks of the 1¼ mile course from Black Bridge (Nuneham Railway Bridge) to the island by Radley College Boathouse. Oxford won the toss and chose the Oxfordshire bank, with Cambridge rowing on the Berkshire side. Oxford set off at 40 strokes compared to Cambridge's 37, and were almost immediately in the lead and a length up in some thirty seconds. Despite being left at the start, Cambridge did not give up and responded well, with the judge’s verdict at the finish recorded as a win for Oxford by just two-thirds of a length.

Saturday, 26th February, 1944, Unofficial Boat Race on the River Great Ouse

In 1944, Oxford won the unofficial race by ¾ length in 8 minutes and 6 seconds.

Cambridge led at the start and got a third of a length advantage, which they held for some distance, but as they approached Day's farmhouse Oxford began to draw up and then another spurt put them in front. Nearing the finish, Cambridge tried to spurt, but Oxford responded so that the Light Blues never looked like getting on terms again.

The Twelth Man's Sport Gossip, Monday February 28th, 1944 -

STRANGEST BOATRACE OF THEM ALL

All things considered, I suppose the weekend Varsity boat race will go down in rowing history as about the 'strangest' in the whole series extending over 113 years. Again rowed far from its old peace-time home on the Thames tideway, this time in the very heart of the Fen country, on an isolated stretch of the Great Ouse, it still drew thousands of spectators, a great tribute to the hold the race has on the nation. They came not only from the cathedral city of Ely, but from Cambridge, military and Air Force units and surrounding villages. All manner of transport was used - lorries, horses, a few cars, bicycles (push and motor), and Shanks's pony involving miles of foot slogging.

Convalescent airmen filled a hastily improvised grand stand of chairs set out on the tow path right opposite the winning post, American troopers gathered on banks behind and Australian airmen filled in points of vantage. The whole show was free, but one bank of the river was reserved for those who had official cards of the race, issued by Cambridge University B.C. When these gave out - there were only about a hundred printed - the county police had to give way, so great was the crush.

Everyone who got to the race regarded it as distinctly an occasion - and favours were worn. As the race was staged on Cambridge waters, light blue naturally predominated. But some prophetic soul had planted an Oxford blue flag to mark the finishing post in front of a step ladder, presumably for the finish judge, the Rev M H Tupper, an old Oxonian, to mount at the psychological moment, but I do not recall that official finding this necessary. With the bar up against launches (on points of speed and wash), the umpire, Captain Stevenson, followed the race on horseback, as did the coaches.

Another innovation - for the Varsity boat race - was the timing of the race from the winning post, over a telephone line rigged up for the occasion by the Cambridge University Senior Training Corps signals, with the help of local Home Guard, to the starting point of the race. The actual man who held the watch in one hand and a telephone receiver in the other listening for the "are you ready, row" was A Cameron, of Pembroke, a member of last season's Cambridge crew.

The crews were not ready when the hour of starting came. "A lump of mud was discovered," one of the oarsmen told me afterwards, that meant the stake boats being discarded and a few yards cut off the length of the race. But the race was the thing, and that provided a great struggle with Cambridge leading by a canvas until half way, where Oxford went ahead to just keep their lead to a great finish. The better crew won, making themselves favourites for the race when they paddled down from Ely past the crowd to the starting point down the river close to Littleport.

This very youthful boat race crowd, full of servicemen, about 5000 strong, against the millions who lined the Thames banks in peacetime, reproduced the typical humour of the old gatherings. They were, for an instance, much amused, while waiting for the crews to hove in sight, by the manoeuvres on one of the banks of a young man with a portable wireless set. He kept on proclaiming himself to be 'Z for Zebra' to the intense delight of the convalescent airmen, who cheered with great gusto everything he said.

One of the winning crew told me afterwards how amused he was by the mock booing and hissing of people on the banks (nearly all staunch supporters of Cambridge, the home side) as his crew paddled down to the starting point. But these same people, as I reminded him, gave the dark blue winners a great reception at the finish and joined in the cheer which the beaten crew, as usual, gave for their conquerors. Then the crews paddled back to the Ely boathouses to have tea in town and later dine (at a Cambridge hotel) together, as they had lunched at an Ely hotel before the race. I fancy the losers paid.

None of the American soldiers at Ely had ever seen the race before and naturally knew little of its standing in this country or long history. One who came from Utah, intrigued me by suggesting that there ought, "To be more boats in the race," adding "But perhaps it was some sort of final!" But even he was very impressed by the racing and voted it "Swell."


Boatrace on the Great Ouse, 1944

The Diamond44 re-enacted the 1944 race in 2004. Cambridge won by 4 lengths.

1945: 1st March, Unofficial boat race in the Henley Reach, won by Cambridge

BRITISH PATHE - 1945 BOAT RACE AT HENLEY


Map taken from George Drinkwater's "The Boat Race"

92: Saturday, 30th March, 1946

In 1946 OXFORD WON by 3 lengths. Time 19 minutes and 54 seconds. Oxford 43, Cambridge 48
Report
Conditions were good if rather misty as far as Hammersmith, the tide was only fair.
Cambridge won the toss and chose Surrey. Oxford set off at 36 against 34. Oxford moved ahead and led by between ¼ and ½ length at the end of the first minute. At the Fulham Wall at 32 Oxford had a clear ½ length. At the Mile Post Oxford had 7 seconds, at Hammersmith Bridge 8 seconds, with Oxford on the inside of the long Surrey bend. At Chiswick Steps Oxford were down to 28 against 31. At Barnes Bridge Oxford had 10 seconds and won by 3 lengths.
In this race Cambridge had used swivels and Oxford had fixed thole pins.


Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
OXFORD 1946
R M T Raikes, 11. 2
R T Turner, 11. 0
J M Barrie, 12. 7
R M A Bourne, 11.13
J R L Carstairs, 12. 9
J R W Gleave, 12. 4
P N Brodie, 11. 7
A J R Pursell, 11.13
R Ebsworth, 9. 1

Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
CAMBRIDGE 1946
J S Paton-Philip, 12. 0
T J Sullivan, 12. 0
P L P Macdonnell, 13. 2½
D J D Perrins, 12. 2
G E C Thomas, 13. 9
J G Gosse, 12. 3
M S Allman-Ward, 13. 4
J H Neame, 11. 7
G H C Fisher, 9. 1½

93: Saturday, 29th March, 1947

In 1947 CAMBRIDGE WON by 10 lengths. Time 23 minutes and 1 second. Oxford 43, Cambridge 49

After a bad winter the race day was very wet with a lot of land water reducing the tide to almost nothing. Oxford won the toss and chose Surrey.
Oxford went off steadily, while Cambridge, rowing a faster but short and hurried stroke surged ahead and took a ½ length by the end of the Fulham wall. Cambridge had ¾ length at Beverly Brook and 7 seconds by the Mile.
Cambridge still looked rushed and Oxford calmer and longer. However despite this Cambridge opened their lead to 10 seconds at Hammersmith Bridge and to 18 seconds at Chiswick Steps. At Barnes Bridge Cambridge led by 25 seconds and won by 30 seconds in the slowest time in 70 years.

BRITISH PATHE - 1947 BOAT RACE


Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
OXFORD 1947
D G Jamison, 11. 9½
P H Mathews, 11.11
D A M Mckay, 13. 3
T D Raikes, 12. 3
J R W Gleave, 12. 5
R M A Bourne, 11. 4
P N Brodie, 11. 4
A J R Purssell, 11.12
A Palgrave-Brown, 8.10

Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
CAMBRIDGE 1947
A P Mellows, 11.12
D J C Meyrick, 11. 0
N S Rogers, 12. 9
P J Garner, 11.12
W A D Windham, 13. 4
I M Lang, 13. 8
A S F Butcher, 11.13
G C Richardson, 12.10
G H C Fisher, 8.10

94: Saturday, 27th March, 1948

In 1948 CAMBRIDGE WON by 5 lengths. Time 17 minutes and 50 seconds. Oxford 43, Cambridge 50
Report
The wind was fresh north-east with a very strong tide which made the start difficult. Cambridge won the toss and chose Middlesex. Oxford, with both crews at 37, went into a slight lead. Cambridge caught a bad crab which stopped them and by the time theyw ere going again Oxford had one length.
Cambridge now had the bend in their favour and overhauled Oxford to be level at the Mile Post. Barton [Cambridge stroke] put in a strong spurt between Harrods and Hammersmith Bridge, and reached the Bridge 4 seconds ahead.
Oxford raised the rate to 34 against 29 but still could not hold Cambridge. At Chiswick Steps the lead was 5 seconds. At Barnes Bridge the Cambridge lead was 15 seconds and they went on to win by 14 seconds in a course record time.

The 1948 Cambridge Blue Boat with one or two changes represented Great Britain in the London Olympics, rowed at Henley. They won Silver behind United States, with Norway Bronze.


Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
OXFORD 1948
G C Fisk, 12. 1½
J R W Gleave, 12. 7
A D Rowe, 12.12
W W Woodward, 13. 3½
R A Noel, 12.13½
R L Arundel, 14. 4
P N Brodie, 11. 8
A J R Purssell, 11.11½
R G B Faulkner, 9. 0

Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
CAMBRIDGE 1948
* A P Mellows, 12. 1
* D J C Meyrick, 11. 4
P A de Giles, 12. 3
* G C Richardson, 12.11
A B C Harrison, 13.12
* E A P Bircher, 13. 8
* M C Lapage, 13. 0
* C B R Barton, 11.11
K T Lindsay, 8.13

* indicates member of the Olympic VIII

95: Saturday, 26th March, 1949

In 1949 CAMBRIDGE WON by ¼ length. Time 18 minutes and 57 seconds. Oxford 43, Cambridge 51
Report
Oxford won the toss and chose Middlesex. At the start Oxford moved into a comfortable lead. At the Mile Post Oxford led by 1½ lengths. They held this lead to Hammersmith Bridge.
Despite the advantage of the Surrey bend Cambridge could only reduce the Oxford lead by 1 second at Chiswick Steps.
But then Cambridge slowly came back on Oxford to be level at Barnes Bridge. The bend was now in Oxford’s favour but Cambridge won by just under a second.

This was the first race to be covered by television:


1949. The Consuta set up to carry the television camera and crew

This was the famous race in which John Snagge, commentating for the BBC, overcome with excitement, uttered the memorable words -

I can't see who's in the lead but it's either Oxford or Cambridge.


Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
OXFORD 1949
G C Fisk, 11. 9½
A J M Cavenagh, 11. 1
W J H Leckie, 12.12
R L Arundel, 14. 0
A D Rowe, 12.11½
T D Raikes, 12.10½
J M Clay, 12.12½
C G V Davidge, 12.13
A Palgrave-Brown, 8. 9

Bow
2
3
4
5
6
7
Stroke
Cox
CAMBRIDGE 1870
G S S Ludford, 11. 2
A L Macleod, 12. 4
C B M Lloyd, 13. 0
J R la T Corrie, 13. 3
E A P Bircher, 13. 7
P M O Massey, 13. 8
D V Lynch, 13. 1
T R Ashton, 9. 3


In 1949, after ninety five boat races, the overall tally was: Oxford 43, Cambridge 51 (and one dead heat)
The war time unofficial races are not counted. Leadership in Overall Tally of Boat Race Wins:

1829 1949

Click for Hammersmith Bridge  
 
 
 
Boat race in 1950s




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PLA
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Custom Ho
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; Frost Fairs
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Chiswick Br
Kew Rb
Kew Br
RICHMOND
Twickenham Br
Richmond Rb
Richmond Br
TEDDINGTON
Kingston Rb
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Ditton Slip
Hampton Br
MOLESEY
SUNBURY
Walton Br
Desborough Cut
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Chertsey Br
CHERTSEY
M3 Br
Laleham Slip
PENTON HOOK
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BELL WEIR
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ROMNEY
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TEMPLE
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HAMBLEDEN
Temple Is
Fawley Ct
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Landing
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MARSH
Hennerton
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R.Loddon
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Reading Slip
Purley
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WHITCHURCH
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Goring Br
GORING
Swan
CLEEVE
Moulsford
Moulsford Rb
Papist Way Slip
Winterbrook Br
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BENSON
Shillingford Br
R.Thame
DAYS
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Clifton H Br
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Salters Steamers
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Oxford Fb
Osney Fb
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Osney Marina
OSNEY
Osney Br
Four Rivers
OLD RIVER
CANAL
Medley Weir Site
Medley Fb
Bossoms
Perch
Trout
GODSTOW
Godstow Nunnery
Godstow Br
Thames Br
KINGS
River Evenlode
EYNSHAM
Swinford Br
Oxford Cruisers
PINKHILL
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Stanton Harcourt
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Arks Weir Site
NORTHMOOR
Harts Fb
//Rose Revived
Newbridge
//Maybush
River Windrush
below Shifford
SHIFFORD
Shifford Fb
Tenfoot Fb
Trout Inn
Tadpole Br
RUSHEY
Old Mans Fb
RADCOT
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Swan Inn
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
GRAFTON
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Eaton Fb
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St Johns Br
ST JOHNS
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SEVEN SPRINGS