Five New Zealanders who had represented New Zealand at Olympic Games in London (1908), Stockholm (1912),  Amsterdam (1928) and Los Angeles (1932), went on to represent their nation once again, this time on the battle fields of Europe, and die in service to our country. We honour them below.

This weekend we reflect not only on their contribution to our freedom, but also on the value of peace and the role the Olympic Movement plays promoting international understanding, cooperation and a peaceful world for all humanity.

Lest we forget.


George Cooke Olympian #25

Corporal George Campbell Cooke / 2431

Rowing / Games of the X Olympiad, Los Angeles 1932

Died 23rd May 1941 from wounds sustained during the fighting in Crete - aged 34 years.

The 1932 Summer Olympic Games were held from the 30th of June to the 14th of July, in Los Angeles, California at the height of the worldwide Great Depression. New Zealand was represented by 21 athletes at these Games, of which one was George Cooke, member of the mens Rowing Eight.

Cooke, stroke of the New Zealand eight, enlisted with the 19th Battalion, New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, and saw action initially near Olympus in Greece. The Allied troops from New Zealand, Australia, Britain and Greece lost the battle in Greece, and were evacuated to Crete. The battle of Crete is well documented, where the allies suffered another defeat. On the 20th May 1941, Corporal Cooke was in charge of 10 men sent to act at sentries for a British howitzer unit.

At around 11.00am, they saw action against a group of German paratroopers, and Cooke was wounded in this action. He was captured, and sent to a German Prisoner of War hospital in Maleme, Crete.

While he was in this hospital he received special care and attention from a member of the German medical staff, understood to be a doctor, who was also an Olympian. We understand that this Olympic connection was identified while he was in the care of this German staff member. Unfortunately Cooke died in hospital from his wounds on 23 May 1941 aged 34.


Albert Rowland Olympian #3

Second Lieutenant Albert Edward MacKay Rowland / 32540

Athletics  (walking) / Games of the IV Olympiad, London 1908

Died 23rd July 1918 from wounds sustained during the fighting in France aged 32 years

Rowland, alongside Murray, was one of four NZ athletes to represent Australiasia at the 1908 Olympic Games in London. The IOC president for these Games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Lasting a total of 187 days, or 6 months and 4 days, these games were the longest in modern Olympic Games history.

Rowland finished fifth in the final of the 3500 metres walk, two places behind New Zealand team mate, Harry Kerr, who won the bronze medal. He also finished fifth in his heat of the 10 miles walk but did not progress to the final.

A second lieutenant in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade,Rowland was killed in the Second Battle of the Marne in World War I.


NB The New Zealand Olympic Committee is interested in any more information around the life of Albert Rowland. If you have any knowledge or contacts, please email

Anthony Wilding Olympian #6

Captain Anthony Frederick Wilding

Tennis / Games of the V Olympiad, Stockholm 1912

Died 9th May 1915 from injuries sustained from a German shell (reported to have died instantly) in France aged 31 years

Wilding won tennis fame because of his eight Wimbledon titles four singles and four doubles - and brilliant record in Davis Cup. However, he earned Olympic honours, too, claiming a bronze medal at the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.

He was beaten in the semi-final by Charles Dixon, a goodish English player who had variety and control. Dixon wrote later: I always found Tony a scrupulously fair opponent. I shall never forget how good he was when I was lucky enough to beat him in Stockholm and I treasure his public statement given at the dinner after the Olympic contest, to the effect that I was the better man on the day. No other adversary would have said that.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, Wilding was commissioned in the RM Divisional Train but spent most his career attached to the Royal Naval Air Service Armoured Car Division. Tragically, Captain Anthony Wilding died at Neuve Chapelle, on the northern France border, while fighting in the torrid Battle of Ypres, on the Western Front, on May 9, 1915. He was 31, vital, cheerful and fit, and about to marry US actor Maxine Elliott.


David Lindsay Olympian #18

Lieutenant David Powell Lindsay / 621641

Swimming / Games of the IX Olympiad, Amsterdam 1928

Died 12th September 1943 from gunfire during the fighting in Italy aged 37 years

In 1928, New Zealand sent a team of 10 to Amsterdam to compete in the Olympic Games, the first time the Games spanned just 16 days instead of several months. It was also the first time the Olympic flame was lit.

Wellingtonian and School Master David Lindsay represented New Zealand in the pool, competing in the 400m and 1500m  Freestyle. David placed 3rd in his 400m heat and 4th in his 1500m heat, narrowly missing out on a finals berth.

Lindsay enlisted for WWII in Dannevirke and fought in Italy. He died when a shell from a 25-pounder firing short hit him and several men in his platoon.


NB The New Zealand Olympic Committee is interested in any more information around the life of David Lindsay. If you have any knowledge or contacts, please email

Henry Murray Olympian #2

Lieutenant (WW1) & Flying Officer (WW2) Henry St Aubyn Murray / 1658

Athletics (hurdles) / Games of the IV Olympiad, London 1908

Died 10th April 1943 in a motor vehicle accident whilst in the Royal New Zealand Airforce in Onerahi aged 57 years

Murray was one of four NZ athletes who represented Australasia at the 1908 Olympic Games in London. The team marched into the stadium under the Australian Flag carried by Murray.

Murray competed in both the 110 and 400 metre hurdles heats coming second in both. As the events were sudden death he was eliminated in both.

In 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 11th Field Company, Engineers. He embarked for overseas service on 31 May 1916 and served in France.  He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and distinguished service during action east of Ypres on 4th October 1917.

On 4th October 1917 Murray was in charge of a party of sappers and attached Infantry during operations with instructions to construct two strong points in rear of the final objective. He successfully led his men to the positions in spite of enemy barrage fire. Not only did he carry out his instructions constructing and wiring strong points, but also re-organised scattered parties of men that he came across during operations, and by his coolness under fire and good work, was a source of inspiration and encouragement to all in his vicinity.

  London Gazette

Murrays commission in the AIF was terminated in 1919 and he joined the NZ Military Forces (Territorial Force) as a Lieutenant in the Corps of NZ Engineers.

Between the wars, Murray practised as an architect in his own business. He designed part of St Bedes College, Christchurch, the Akaroa War Memorial and a public building in Rangiora as well as many other buildings in Canterbury.

In 1942, while assisting with airfield construction in Fiji, he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a Flying Officer in No 6 Works Maintenance Squadron, Suva. He returned to NZ in March 1943 and was based at Onerahi.

On the main highway between Onerahi and Whangarei, on 10 April 1943, the Jeep in which he was being driven, left the road and overturned.  He died of chest injuries in Whangarei Hospital two days later.


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