A Great War Olympics report

As of this writing, host country the UK had won three Olympic medals, one silver (cyclist Lizzie Armistead) and two bronze (the men’s gymnastic team and swimmer Becky Adlington in the 400 meter freestyle). The U.S. has 17, a tie with China.

Among the other belligerents in World War I are:

Italy, 8 medals

France, 7

Russia, 5

Australia, 4

Austria/Hungary, 0/3

Belgium 1

Canada, 1

Germany, 1

Serbia, 1

Turkey, 0 (so far)

Britain’s most noted Olympian for those of us interested in the First World War, was Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame (VC, KBE, CB, DSO, Chevalier Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre). Neame won a gold medal at the Paris 1924 Olympics — the only VC ever to have won Olympic gold. Neame was part of the four-man team that beat Norway and Sweden in the running deer team competition.

My fellow Americans, this was not a running event. Nor were any actual deer involved. It was a shooting competition.

Here’s a link about Philip Neame from the Kent County Council — he lived in Kent — that describes his Olympic adventure: www.kent.gov.uk/leisure_and_culture/archives_and_local_history/collections_and_research/local_sporting_heroes/philip_neame.aspx

And here’s an account of his war adventure: www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/vc-awards-in-the-great-war/2005-lt-philip-neame-vc.html

Two other British Olympians involved in the war were:

Captain Noel Chavasse (VC and bar, MC) RAMC, who represented Great Britain in the 400 metres at the London 1908 Olympics. Noel and his brother Christopher also competed in the 4 x 400 metre relay at the games. Noel Chavasse died of wounds near Ypres in August 1917.

Here’s a link to his story: http://www.stephen-stratford.co.uk/two_vcs.htm

Brigadier General Paul Aloysius Kenna (VC, DSO), awarded the VC for his actions in Sudan in 1898. He was selected to lead the GB Show-jumping Team at the Stockholm 1912 Olympics. Kenna was killed at Gallipoli on 30 August 1915 and is buried in Lala Baba Cemetery. He was 53.

Here’s Kenna, looking smudged: Image

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