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Australian Rowing History
Middleton, Sydney - Australian Rowing History

Major Sydney Middleton DSO OBE

Sydney Rowing Club (NSW)

1904 - Interstate Men's Eight Championship six seat - Fourth

1904 - Interstate Men's Eight Championship four seat - Third

1904 - Interstate Men's Eight Championship four seat - Fourth

1908 - Olympic Games Australian rugby union team - Gold

1910 - Interstate Men's Eight Championship Four seat - First

1911 - Interstate Men's Eight Championship six seat - First

1912 - Olympic Games Men's Eight six seat - Eliminated in semi-final

1912 - Henley Royal Regatta - Grand Challenge Cup six seat - First

1919 Peace Regatta for the Kings Cup six seat - First

Above: 1912 Olympic Rowing Team - Middleton back row third from right

One of the most interesting facts regarding Sidney Middleton is that he competed in the Australian Olympic Rugby Union team in 1908 that won a gold medal. He remains the only Australian to compete in both sports at the Olympic Games. He captained Australia in rugby in its three Tests against New Zealand in Australia. He also played in a Test against England but probably missed selection against Wales due to an outburst (he swung a blow against an opposing forward) against Oxford resulting in him being sent off.

Sid Middleton was also a distinguished soldier. He served in some of the worst battles of WWI after enlisting in May 1915 as a second lieutenant and serving in both the 17th and 19th Battalions. These included: Gallipoli, Pozieres, Flers, Lagnicourt, 2ndBullecourt, Menin Road, Poelcappelle, Amiens and Mont St Quentin.

He was promoted to Major, 17th Battalion in May 1917. He was mentioned in despatches in 1918, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1919 for bravery in action and in 1920 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire. His recommendation for the DSO recorded:

The battalion owes much of its success to the splendid example set by this very fine type of officer. He was in command of the 17th Bttn. on the 14th May 1918 east of Heilly, near Amiens when the enemy made a very determined attack on the front held by the 17th Bttn and the manner in which he handled the situation and quickly restored the line showed great initiative and leadership.

When the war finished, he was summoned to Corps Headquarters and told on arrival and I quote: to get busy and entertain several hundred thousand soldiers. It took Australia two years to repatriate its soldiers back home. He was appointed Secretary and Organiser of the AIF Sports Council. Various competitions were conducted from inter-platoon through to inter-army throughout the winter on 1918-19.

Above: Stephen Fairbairn, Middelton, Harry Hauenstein and Harry Ross-Soden in 1919

Andrew Guerin, March 2018

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