I was fascinated to read John Carmody’s account of War and Brotherhood in The Australian on 23 April.
He wrote about two remarkable men, Clegg Kelly and Paddy Moran and their paths to Gallipoli.
John notes that:
The men never met — other aspects of their lives made that unlikely — but their stories are endlessly fascinating and, when set side by side, have much to tell us about their times.
He adds that:
They were born in Sydney within a few years of each other, were astonishingly accomplished sportsmen — Moran captained the first Wallabies team to tour Britain — and were highly creative personalities. Kelly played the piano superbly, composed music and was a vivid diarist; Moran wrote a book, Viewless Winds, about his war experiences. In very different ways, both found themselves at the 1908 Olympics in London.
It was a treat to hear John Carmody discuss this story at length with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live a few days after John’s account appeared in The Australian. As Phillip Adams points out this is a story that trumps Chariots of Fire.
Clegg was educated at Sydney Grammar School, Eton and Oxford. He was “an accomplished pianist and a brilliant oarsman” and won the renowned Diamond Sculls at Henley in 1902, 1903 and 1905. His time in 1905 stood as a record until 1938.
Paddy was educated at Darlington Public School, St Aloysius’ College and, St Joseph’s. He studied medicine at Sydney University, graduating in 1907 and later acquiring a master’s degree in surgery. He played virtually no football at school “and began seriously only when he was shamed into it for being “slack” when a third-year medical student.” Within a few years he was captain of the first Wallabies team to tour Britain.
Clegg and Paddy competed at the 1908 Olympic Games. Both of them fought at Gallipoli … and survived. Clegg was wounded there and was awarded the DSC.
John reports that:
Kelly was repatriated to Alexandria where, during his recuperation, he completed a beautiful piece for string orchestra, Elegy: In Memoriam Rupert Brooke, which he had begun during the fighting. By March 1916 he was back in London on leave but was serving in France in May. He was still revising that Elegy when he was killed at the very end of the Somme campaign in France on November 13, 1916. Moran returned to Britain after six months in the Dardanelles and was promptly posted to Mesopotamia. He survived the war and had a distinguished career in Sydney as a surgeon and pioneer cancer radiotherapist only to succumb to melanoma in England in 1945 after service throughout World War II as a lieutenant-colonel.
In 2011 Clegg’s music will be played at the Canberra Music Festival. This post on the Festival website provides much more detail about his musical career. His Elegy for String Orchestra was composed in memory of Rupert Brooke, his close friend and fellow naval officer, who died in Kelly’s presence on the island of Skyros in 1915. (BBC Radio 3 played the Elegy immediately after the coverage of the 2010 Remembrance Service in London.) John Carmody (1983) has written Clegg’s biographical entry in The Australian Dictionary of Biography. Clegg’s papers are held at the National Library of Australia and they include his diaries from 1906 to 1916.
G P Walsh (1986) has written Paddy Moran’s entry in The Australian Dictionary of Biography. The entry observes that “Moran had a notable surgical career; his great interest lay in cancer research and the then new use of gamma irradiation through the medium of metallic radium. In this he was far ahead of his time and he travelled widely, published in journals and studied and lectured in many parts of the world.” This is a reference to the Herbert Moran Memorial Lectures.
John Carmody holds Paddy’s literary works in high esteem. These works include Viewless Winds (London, 1939), Beyond the Hill Lies China (Sydney, 1945) and In My Fashion (London, 1946).
The Late Night Live discussion of Clegg and Paddy’s lives is a wonderful exploration of a social world of connections forged by two remarkable people. Listening to the interview and reading the article so close to the ANZAC Day was a particularly powerful and memorable experience for me.
Man in a Rowing Boat
In discussing this post with Bruce Coe he alerted me to Race against time: the diaries of F.S. Kelly By Frederick Septimus Kelly written by Thérèse Radic, and published by the National Library of Australia (2004). (There is a review of this book by Neville Cohn.)
Bruce has pointed out too that Paddy Moran did not play in the Olympic match (there was one match in the Tournament) due to injury.