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Robert Somers-Smith

Full name: John Robert Somers-Smith
Gender: Male
Weight: 152 lbs (69 kg)
Born: December 15, 1887 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, Great Britain
Died: July 1, 1916 in Gommecourt, Pas-de-Calais, France
Affiliations: Leander Club, Henley-on-Thames (GBR)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Rowing

Medals: 1 Gold (1 Total)


Robert Somers-Smith attended Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford and continued the strong family sporting traditions at both establishments. His father, also an Old Etonian, ran for Oxford against Cambridge in 1868 and 1869 and was twice the AAA half-mile champion, while his brother, Richard, of Eton and Merton College, rowed against Cambridge in 1904 and 1905. Robert was “Captain of the Boats” at Eton but never went on to win a Blue, however, he was stroke to the winning Olympic four. He also won the Wyfold and Visitors’ Challenge Cups at Henley with Magdalen in 1907, and the Stewards’ and Visitors’ Challenge Cups in 1908. After leaving university, Somers-Smith became a solicitor before taking a commission into the 5th London Regiment.

He won a Military Cross in 1916 for his bravery at Ypres the previous year. He was killed in action on the first ay of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, exactly one year and one day after his brother lost his life at the front in Flanders. The varying fortunes of Olympic champions cannot be more poignantly illustrated than by the fate of the four young men from Magdalen College, Oxford who won the coxless fours at the 1908 Olympic Games. Two were killed in the war and the two who survived became Knights of the Realm.


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1908 Summer 20 London Rowing Men's Coxless Fours Magdalen College Boat Club-1 GBR 1 Gold

Men's Coxless Fours

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit T
1908 Summer 20 London Rowing Magdalen College Boat Club-1 GBR Final Round 8:34.0
1908 Summer 20 London Rowing Magdalen College Boat Club-1 GBR Round One Heat One 8:34.0
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