Jack Morgan’s WWII Story

The Star Boating Club, Wellington, New Zealand, this year, is celebrating its 150th Anniversary. Star is the oldest living sports club in Wellington and research has revealed that it most probably is the third oldest in the Country.

This Blog is the first in a series of Stories about the Club and its Members and is intended to preface gathering in Wellington, 2,3 and 4 September for events to celebrate its life and history; most of all to involve ourselves again in that camaraderie that is one of the most valued features of the Club’s culture.

It is significant that I have chosen the day before ANZAC Day to begin writing this Story with its subject, one Jack Morgan, 92 years of age, resident in Tauranga, and a Star BC Member, having joined on his return from service in Egypt, Italy and J Force. On his arrival at Maadi Advance Base in Egypt he opened a lasting friendship with Frank Delaney, a Star Member pre-war,  who introduced Jack to Rowing. It certainly provides a catching cameo of life outside the Battles of World War II.

An earlier Blog from my site featured the presentation of a blazer to the Club which had originally belonged to Frank Delaney who had passed it on to Jack.

Alastair Roger with Jack Morgans vintage Star Blazer
Alastair Roger with Jack Morgan’s vintage Star Blazer

Jack has written:

“Dear Bob re Frank J Delaney.
Briefly the following may be helpful – my memory is going.
Frank gave me the blazer 1946 – I had just returned with “J” Force from several months in Japan & some 2 years in Egypt and Italy – he had me join the Star Boating Club – I rowed 1946 & 1947 in a Lightweight Four (under 10 stone 7 lbs) !! My first experience was on the Nile at the Cairo Boating Club.
We were in Cairo one day when he said let’s go rowing – produced 3 Pips for himself and 1 for me – he signed us in as Captain & 2nd Lieutenant (Club was available to Officers only). From memory the boat was a wide heavily built clinker.
Certain old photos I have enclosed. Our 4 had 2 wins – Wanganui River and Waimak. River, ChCh – am unable to find a large photo of the 4.
PS On reflection the Blazer must be at least 85 years old. 1930 or earlier.”

The above validates Jack’s claim to have rowed at Maadi, something that many have aspired to but not achieved.

Jack has written that intends to come down to the 150th Anniversary.

The following is from Wikipedia: “During World War II, members of the 2nd NZEF based at Maadi Camp in Egypt competed in regattas on the Nile against local Egyptian rowing clubs. At a regatta held on 20 November 1943 the Maadi Camp Rowing Club “Kiwi” oarsmen beat the Cairo River Club by 11 points to six to win the Freyberg Cup, which they then gifted to the competitors. In return, as a token of friendship, Youssef Baghat presented the Kiwis with a cup. Youssef Baghat’s cup was offered to the NZARA (now NZRA) as a trophy for an annual boys’ eight-oared race between secondary schools and was brought to New Zealand at the end of the war.”

Jack’s mate, Frank Delaney must have been quite a character and a classic example of a pre-war Star oarsman enjoying the social scene within the Club as well as the more rigorous sporting activities. His name regularly appeared in Evening Post social columns in articles related to Star BC events which would seem, in that era, to have been the highlights in the City’s social scene. His occupation was as a Carrier in the City.

Jack in another letter, forwarding photographs, says that “some thirty years ago another couple and ourselves decided to go to Norfolk Island to play golf. One day I wandered through the small cemetery. In the Servicemen’s Section I located his tombstone .”

Below: Lightweight 4 , 1947 (Under 10st 7lb) Stroke Harvey Egdell, 3 Jack Morgan, 2 Johnson, Bow ?. Won 2 Regattas: Whanganui and Waimakariri (Jack thinks)

Morgan3Lw4HarveEdgallJohnson2Jack, immediate post war, worked with New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Co. prior to establishing
his own business in Palmerston North as a Commercial Valuer specialising in the hospitality area – Pubs being a core interest.

Many stories follow on stories. In researching this one I discovered some extremely valuable material in which George Cook, arguably the Club’s most successful Oarsman (who warrants a Blog of his own later), Tiny Freyberg, a Club Member in the Swimming section pre WWI and A. R. Burge, a Status Regatta winner 1936-37, all feature. All going well I hope to be with you again next week.

These Blogs will be distributed by way of the Star Legends Group, Facebook and the Club’s Website at http://www.starboatingclub.com/  and I would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to be emailed directly.


Replies and comment most welcome