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Mercantile RC name new eight after wartime hero

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Arthur Atkins (with jacket and tie) poses with the family of David D. Browne and the newly named Mercantile Eight.

Mercantile Rowing Club in Victoria hosted a boat naming ceremony this weekend (Saturday 15 October) for its newest eight. The boat was named David D. Browne and comes with a fascinating story of enduring friendship that is never forgotten.

David Dorey Brown, was an outstanding young man, a superb athlete and already a great leader who died whilst piloting a Lancaster on a bombing raid over Germany in 1944. He was just 21 years old.

His best friend, fellow Lancaster pilot Arthur Atkins survived the war and is now a spritely 99-years-old. A member of Mercantile RC and wanting the memory of David to live on, Mr Atkins donated the new rowing racing eight to Mercantile RC with the condition that it be named after his war-time friend.

The story of David and Arthur’s friendship began in Australia where they trained together before being posted to different squadrons overseas. They spent a month together in the US en-route to Britain and then prior to beginning their missions with their respective Lancaster bombers, the two young men enjoyed a life of adventure and travel and saw them become the firmest of friends.

Sadly, their friendship never saw the other side of World War II, with David’s bomber, of which he was captain, failing to return from an operational flight near Stuttgart, Germany on the night of 12 September 1944.

Arthur was one of few people to survive 32 missions in a Lancaster over enemy territory and for his work was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945. He has been a member of Mercantile RC since the 1935-36 season and rowed, when able, right up until 1988.

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