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Ely Catherdral

WAR-TIME BOAT RACES ORDERED BY CHURCHILL

1944 Oxford at rest after winning by three-quarters of a length. Michael rowed at No.3 and Queen Adelaide church in clearly visible in the background3 February 2015

Last week, as the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill's death passed, it was revealed that he as Prime Minister agreed that it would be a good idea to have some boat races during the Second World War to boost national morale.

Interviewed at his retirement home in Gerrards Cross, Dr Michael Brooks, a university oarsman who rowed for Oxford in both 1943 and 1944, disclosed this interesting piece of history to the makers of the forthcoming, 50-minute film documentary 'A Strange Day at Queen Adelaide'.

Dr Brooks takes up the story: "By 1943 Churchill was worried about morale in the country. We were at low ebb and began to doubt we could defeat the Nazis. Churchill thought it would be a good idea for the country if we had some boat races to restore morale. Then the decision came that they would have the first one at Radley."

Same scene seventy years later, a quad named 'Michael Brooks' is rowed past St Etheldreda's Church, Queen Adelaide by junior members of Isle of Ely Rowing Club"Immediately after the 1944 contest at Queen Adelaide, a great friend of mine was blown up in a tank and killed. I began to wonder what on earth I was doing, we didn't seem to be winning the war and here was I in a reserved occupation. I joined the Riffle Brigade and was posted to North Africa before being transferred to Palestine. I didn't manage to get back to Oxford again until 1948."

Diary Date: 7pm 28 February 2015 at Ely Cathedral

Tickets for 'A Strange Day at Queen Adelaide' costing £7.50, are available from:

Ely Cathedral Box Office - Open 9.30am to 4.00pm Monday to Saturday

Tel: 01353 660349 - Online: tickets.elycathedral.org

All profits from this World Premiere Event will be used to promote the continued development of community rowing on the River Great Ouse at Ely.