‘The Lost Olympian of the Somme’ – Commemorative Event at Museum

Lost_Olympian_72dpiThe ‘Lost Olympian of the Somme’ is the story of an Olympic gold medallist and forgotten war hero.  Frederick Kelly was an Eton and Oxford graduate, composer, pianist, intellectual and British Rowing Olympic gold medallist.

This first-hand account, from 1914 – 1916 offers a startling personal insight into the Great War.  A unique look into Churchill’s Royal Navy’s Hood Battalion, an innovative new division of sailors that served on land as soldiers.  Kelly’s battalion included some of the leading artistic and intellectual minds of the day: The Hon. Charles Lister, Arthur ‘Ock’ Asquith (the Prime Minister’s son), and the poet Rupert Brooke, whose final hours Kelly witnessed.

Inspired by the story, Double Olympic Rowing Gold medallist, Steve Williams has retraced Fred Kelly’s steps and written the foreword for the book.  The book is priced £8.99

A prolific composer, Kelly wrote an elegy for strings, inspired by Rupert Brookes’ funeral which he attended.  This was performed at the BBC Proms by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK19TZfoHLo.

The battle of the Somme was one of the darkest days in British Military History.  This WW1 diary details the days before, during and after the horrific events of 1st July 1916 from the front line, demonstrating the lack of awareness on the battlefield and consequences that followed.

Jon Cooksey’s previous books include Harry’s War – The Great War Diary of Harry Drinkwater and Blood & Iron – Letters from the Western Front. As well as writing books, Jon has contributed feature articles to national newspapers and history magazines.

Graham McKechnie studied modern history at Queen’s College, Oxford before pursuing a career in sports journalism. He is currently Sports Editor at BBC Radio Northampton.

The River and Rowing Museum are hosting a commemorative event on Saturday 9 July (11.30-12.30) when authors Jon Cooksey & Graham McKechnie will talk about Frederick Kelly’s story which is a tale of courage, tragedy and lost potential.  A fascinating and emotional insight into the mind of one of the era’s unsung heroes during the Battle of the Somme. Tickets £5.  To book call 01491 415600.