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History of Fremantle Rowing Club 1887-1987

By Ralph Jeffreys

5. Through to WWII 1927-1939

In 1927 Gil Whittle was emergency in the crew stroked by Gra Rosser (W.A. Rowing Club) which won the Kings Cup rowed in Hobart and in 1928 Jim Shaw rowed in the crew stroked by Murray Church (Swan River Rowing Club) which won the race in New South Wales.

1928 WA crew in Penrith

1928 WA crew in Penrith

In these latter years of 1920's the Club was successful in Maiden Ranks and although not numerically strong won occasional races in the higher grades. It was not until 1931 when an idea of Fred Williamson and Bob Williams of a "learn to row" week was promoted and proved successful that there was any surge of membership. The main thrust of this promotion was a slide which was shown with advertisements during intervals at local theatres.

The slide showed an eight oared crew for the main part, and an invitation to learn to row free for a week, plus other relevant information. The eight oar crew featured on the slide went on to win the Champion Maiden Eight of 1931 and comprised Ken Capp (Stroke), Alan Riou (7), Jeston Richardson (5), Charlie Hugall (5), Jack Hugall (4), Eddy Edwards (3), Bob Jeffreys (2) and Syd Dalton (Bow) Gordon Pead (Cox) Ken Lewis (Coach).

1931 Champion Maiden Eight

1931 Champion Maiden Eight

Ken Capp (Str), Alan Riou (7), Jeston Richardson (6), Charlie Hugall (5), Jack Hugall (4), Eddy Edwards (3), Bob Jeffreys (2), Syd Dalton (bow), Gordon Pead (cox), Ken Lewis (Coach).

At this time the Club also boated a winning Senior Pair in Bob Williams and Jack Jenkinson. In 1932 with two alterations owing to unavailability the eight. seated as follows, Ken Capp (Stroke), Eddy Edwards (7), Jeston Richardson (6), Allan Guard (5), Jack Hugall (4), Charlie Hugall (3), Bob Jeffrey (2), Norman Brown (Bow) convincingly won the Junior Eight Championship. Gordon Pead was again Coxswain and Ken Lewis again Coach.

The Club grew in strength and prior to the war breaking out had produced another three Champion Maiden Eights and another two winning Champion Junior Eights. During this period the Club was represented in Kings Cup Crews by Bob Williams 1932, Charlie Hugall 1934 and 1936, Jack Hugall 1934, Ralph Jeffreys 1937 and Jack Jeffreys and Les Moncrieff rowed in the 1938 winning crew.

1938 WA crew

1938 WA crew

1939 saw the Club's best all round performance since it was founded in 1887, winning the Novice, Maiden, Junior and Senior Grade Premierships and were considered favorites for the Open Championship Eights, having won two out of the three Senior Eights.

War was declared a week before the Champion Eights Regatta. The majority of the members of the Club had been called up immediately for Service in the Navy, Army and Air Force and were actually in their respective camps on the day set down for the race. Other Clubs were affected also by service call ups and the Association abandoned the Regatta. The Premiership results were not altered because the Club was in the position that had they not won a race in the final Regatta they would still have won all four Pennants.

1939 - Champion Club

1939 - Champion Club of Western Australia

Winner of the Novice, Maiden, Junior and Senior pennants

1939 had seemed destined to be a good year as it commenced with the Regattas at Collie and Bunbury at which a party of almost 100 of both sexes attended. Two boarding houses in Bunbury were completely booked out for the Easter Period by the Club. The Club on 9th April 1939 at Collie won the Junior Four, Junior Pair, Maiden Four and Maiden Pair Four events of the seven on the Programme. The following day at Bunbury the Club won the Maiden Four and Novice Four - Two events of the four on the Programme.

It is hard to name individuals featuring in the building up of the Club in the years leading to 1939 because success can only be maintained by members working as a team, but perhaps no one would grudge a tribute being paid to Ralph Jeffreys who filled a major roll both on and off the water. The successful Crews were Senior Eight, Ralph Jeffreys (Str), Alan Riou (7), Jack Jeffreys (6), John Manford (5), Bob Higham (4), Roger Jeffreys (3), Vic Connell (2), Eddy Edwards (Bow) Laurie Whitbread Coxswain, Ken Lewis and Frank Shaw Coaches.

John Manford was called up for Air Force training and was replaced by Les Moncrieff in the second winning eight and actually Les Moncrieff was later himself called up by the Army and Ernie Davies was training in the crew for the Champion Eight The successful Junior Eight which culminated its season in the Junior Grade by winning the Champion Junior Eight was Ralph Jeffreys (Stroke), Alan Riou (7), Vic Connell (6), Roger Jeffreys (5), Bob Higham (4), Eddy Edwards (3), Jeston Richardson (2), Jack Critch (Bow), Laurie Whitbread Coxswain and Ken Lewis (Coach).

The successful Maiden Eight comprised George Pearce (Str), Ernie Davies (7), Laurie Turnbull (6), Len Tripp (5) Jim Dram (4), Rex Yeomans (3), Ron Farris (2), Ben Creighton (Bow).

The successful Novice Eight was Bruce Davie (Stroke), Lance McIntosh (7), Jim Oram (6), Dick Rankin (5), Jim Mercer (4), Clive Bessen (3), Fred Sherborne (2), Rex Yeomans (Bow). Following promotion of Jim Dram and Rex Yeomans to the Maiden Grade the positions were filled by Norm Butler and Eric Harrod. The coaching of the Minor Grade Crews was performed by Norm Brown, Eddy Edwards. Ralph Jeffreys and Jack Whittle. It is noteworthy that all grades also had considerable success in "small boat" races in their respective grades.

During the war the Club went into recess, some boats were loaned to Scotch College and the Dressing Shed was used by the American Naval Forces, who did quite a lot of work on the shed and kept it in good order.

The final entry in the Club Minute Book before it was closed for the 'Duration' gave a grim note about the state of the war and recorded as was best known the enlistments to that time as follows:

Navy
Ray Craggs, Ben Creighton, Bill Jeffrey, Bob Jeffreys, Tom Lewis, Lance McIntosh, Bill McLeod, Jim Or-am, George Shenton and Fred Sherborne.

Army
Cecil Critch, Jack Critch, Eddy Edwards, Syd Gray, Eric Harrod, Bob Higham, Vern Holley, Jack Hugall, Jack Jeffreys, Mick Loftus, Mick Morgan, Les Moncrieff, Jim Rankin Dick Rankin, Syd Ryan, Ted Taylor, Rex Yeomans.

Air Force
Clive Besson, Bill Black, Norm Brown, Norm Butler, Vic Connell, Erny Davies, Peter Fontaine, Colin Grigg, Charlie Hugall, Roger Jeffreys, Ralph Jeffreys, Ken Lewis, John Manford, Alan Riou, Sandy Robertson, Bert Sherborne, Allan Smith, Elmo Thompson and Jim Williams.

Merchant Navy
Arthur Pugh

The President R.S. Jeffreys was serving with the Volunteer Defence Corps.

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