Review "The Extinguished Flame: Olympians Killed in The Great War"

Do not expect a juicy read this book is an list of men whose bodies were so well trained they took part in the Olympic games. Men who maybe were awarded medals of a total different type but whose fit bodies were reaped down in the carnage of the first World War.

Maybe just because it is such a somewhat dry list it brings home the tragic of such an era. You see pictures of mothers cheering their sons as winners and at the same time you realise that not long after that woman will have been devastated by losing her child.

I offered to read it and write a review via the NetGalley site because as the administrator of the Facebook group of the Victoria Cross Trust I was familiar with the fact that one of the three people who was ever awarded that highest medal for bravery twice was a former Olympic athlete and a doctor. The chapter about Noel Chavasse VC was interesting and I learned some new things about him.

Badly wounded, they did manage to get Chavasse back to a medical station where he
was operated on but alas he died two days later.
Remarkably another double VC winner Lt-Col Martin-Leake VC and bar was
involved after Chavasse had been badly wounded. He notes in his diary on 2 August
An ambulance came up tonight and in it was Captain Noel Chavasse VC RAMC of the
Kings Liverpool battalion of 55 Division. His face was unrecognizable, all blacked from
a shell burst very near and he seemed to be unconscious. As he had an abdominal wound
besides, I did not take him out of the ambulance, which was sent on direct to 32 CCS
(Casualty Clearing Station), where he will probably die.

He is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, grave reference III. B. 15. His grave
has the unique feature of having two VCs carved into it.

I can recommend the book for people who like a book with background material on either the Olympics or the first World War. It lists men from all different countries in short chapters of one to a few pages each.

I think the price the Kindle version is sold for is a bit high.


In August 2016 the world will be spellbound by the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as 10,500 athletes from 206 countries compete in 306 events. Tracing their origins back to the Greeks in 776 BC, the history of the Olympics is a glorious one but it has had its darker moments.

During the First World War no fewer than 135 Olympians perished. Many had won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. They came not just from the UK, Germany, France, USA but from all over the globe.

Wyndham Halswelle, killed in action on 31 March 1915, won a Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in both field and track events. The Frenchman Leon Flameng, the fastest cyclist ever, died on 2 January 1917, having won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the 1896 Olympics. The German Fritz Bartholomae, killed in action 12 September 1915, won a Bronze in the rowing eights during the 1912 Olympics. The list of these heroes goes on and on.

Each Olympian, who made the supreme sacrifice, is honored in this magnificent book by a summary of their life, sporting achievement and manner of their death.


Popular Posts