1938 British Empire Games

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III British Empire Games
1938 British Empire Games.png
Host city Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nations participating15
Athletes participating464
Opening ceremony 5 February
Closing ceremony12 February
Officially opened by John Loder, 2nd Baron Wakehurst
Main venue Sydney Cricket Ground
<  II IV  >

The 1938 British Empire Games was the third British Empire Games, the Commonwealth Games being the modern-day equivalent. Held in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia from 5–12 February 1938, they were timed to coincide with Sydney's sesqui-centenary (150 years since the foundation of British settlement in Australia). Venues included the Sydney Cricket Ground (the main stadium), the Sydney Sports Ground, North Sydney Olympic Pool and Henson Park. An estimated 40,000 people attended the opening ceremony. A competitors' residential village was established within the grounds of the Sydney Showground. [1]

Commonwealth Games multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth Games are an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and has taken place every four years since then. The Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games from 1930 to 1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954 to 1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970 to 1974. It is the world's first multi-sport event which inducted equal number of women’s and men’s medal events and was implemented recently in the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sydney State capital of New South Wales and most populous city in Australia and Oceania

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.


The star of the games was the Australian athlete Decima Norman, who won five gold medals in track and field. Margaret Dovey, the future wife of Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, finished sixth in the 220 yards breaststroke.

Decima Norman Australian sprinter and long jumper

Clara Decima Norman, MBE was an Australian athlete. She was the only Australian woman who won five gold medals at the 1938 British Empire Games.

Margaret Whitlam wife of Gough Whitlam, an Australian prime minister

Margaret Elaine Whitlam, AO was the wife of Gough Whitlam, the Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975. She was a social campaigner and published author, and also represented Australia in swimming at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney.

Gough Whitlam Australian politician, 21st Prime Minister of Australia

Edward Gough Whitlam was the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, serving from 1972 to 1975. The Leader of the Labor Party from 1967 to 1977, Whitlam led his party to power for the first time in 23 years at the 1972 election. He won the 1974 election before being controversially dismissed by the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, at the climax of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis. Whitlam remains the only Australian prime minister to have his commission terminated in that manner.

Due to the onset of World War II, the games were not held again until 1950.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

1950 British Empire Games 4th edition of the British Empire Games

The 1950 British Empire Games was the fourth edition of what is now called the Commonwealth Games. It was held in Auckland, New Zealand between 4 and 11 February 1950, after a 12-year gap from the third edition of the games. The main venue was Eden Park, although the closing ceremonies were held at Western Springs Stadium, see New Zealand at the 1950 British Empire Games. The fourth games were originally awarded to Montreal, Quebec, Canada and were to be held in 1942 but were cancelled due to World War II.

Participating teams

Countries that participated Empire games 1938 countries map.PNG
Countries that participated
Australia at the 1938 British Empire Games

Australia hosted the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney, New South Wales and their team was abbreviated AUS. This was their third of 3 Commonwealth Games meets.

Bermuda British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 1,070 km (665 mi) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia; and 1,759 km (1,093 mi) northeast of Cuba. The capital city is Hamilton. Bermuda is self-governing, with its own constitution and government and a Parliament which makes local laws. The United Kingdom retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations. As of July 2018, its population is 71,176, the highest of the British overseas territories.

British Guiana British posession in the Guianas region between 1814–1966

British Guiana was the name of the British colony, part of the British West Indies (Caribbean), on the northern coast of South America, now known as the independent nation of Guyana.

Medals by country

  *   Host nation (Australia)

1Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia  (AUS)*25192266
2Flag of England.svg  England  (ENG)15151040
3Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada  (CAN)13161544
4Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa  (SAF)1010626
5Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand  (NZL)571325
6Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg  Wales  (WAL)2103
7Flag of Ceylon (1875-1948).svg  Ceylon  (CEY)1001
8Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland  (SCO)0235
9Flag of British Guiana (1919-1955).svg  British Guiana  (BGU)0101
10Flag of Southern Rhodesia (1924-1964).svg  Southern Rhodesia  (SRH)0022
Totals (10 nations)717171213

Medals by event



Flyweight Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Johnny Joubert (SAF)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Joe Gagnon  (CAN)Flag of Scotland.svg  Hugh Cameron  (SCO)
BantamweightFlag of England.svg  William Butler  (ENG) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Hendrik Knoesen (SAF)Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Jack Dillon  (AUS)
Featherweight Flag of Ceylon (1875-1948).svg Barney Henricus (CEY)Flag of Scotland.svg  James Watson  (SCO)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Kenneth Moran  (NZL)
LightweightFlag of England.svg  Harry Groves  (ENG)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Harry Hurst  (CAN) Flag of Southern Rhodesia (1924-1964).svg William Fulton (RHO)
WelterweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Bill Smith  (AUS)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Arthur Heeney  (NZL) Flag of Southern Rhodesia (1924-1964).svg Andrew Tsirindonis (RHO)
MiddleweightFlag of Wales (1807-1953).svg  Denis Reardon  (WAL)Flag of England.svg  Maurice Dennis  (ENG)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Rex Carey  (CAN)
Light heavyweight Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Nick Wolmarans (SAF)Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Cecil Overell  (AUS)Flag of England.svg  Joseph Wilby  (ENG)
HeavyweightCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Thomas Osborne  (CAN) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Claude Sterley (SAF)Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Leslie Harley  (AUS)



Time TrialFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Bob Porter  (AUS)1:15.2Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Tasman Johnson  (AUS)1:15.7Flag of England.svg  Ernest Mills  (ENG)1:15.9
Sprint 1000 ydFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Dunc Gray  (AUS)Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Bob Porter  (AUS)Flag of New Zealand.svg  George Giles  (NZL)
10-mile ScratchFlag of England.svg  William Maxfield  (ENG)24:44.0Flag of England.svg  Ray Hicks  (ENG) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Syd Rose (SAF)


Road Race Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Hennie Binneman (SAF)2'53:29.6Flag of New Zealand.svg  John Brown  (NZL)s.t.Flag of England.svg  Ray Jones  (ENG)s.t.


Men's events

3 m springboardFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Ron Masters  (AUS)126.36Flag of England.svg  Doug Tomalin  (ENG)124.78Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  George Athans  (CAN)117.90
10 m platformFlag of England.svg  Doug Tomalin  (ENG)108.74Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Ron Masters  (AUS)102.87Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  George Athans  (CAN)98.93

Women's events

3 m springboardFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Irene Donnett  (AUS)91.18Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Lynda Adams  (CAN)88.27Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Marie Sharkey  (CAN)81.66
10 m platformFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Lurline Hook  (AUS)36.47Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Lynda Adams  (CAN)36.39Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Irene Donnett  (AUS)34.57

Lawn bowls


All events were for men only. The double sculls competition was an invitation event and originally no medals were awarded nevertheless these medals were counted nowadays. The bronze medal is listed as won by New Zealand.

Single scullsFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Herb Turner  (AUS)8:24Flag of England.svg  Peter Jackson  (ENG)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Robert Smith  (NZL)
Double scullsFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Cecil Pearce
and William Bradley  (AUS)
7:29.4Flag of England.svg  Jack Offer
and Dick Offer  (ENG)
Flag of New Zealand.svg  Gus Jackson
and Robert Smith  (NZL)
Coxed fourFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Don Fraser
Gordon Freeth
Harry Kerr
Jack Fisher
Stewart Elder
7:16.8Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand
Albert Hope
George Burns
John Rigby
Kenneth Boswell
Jim Clayton
+1.25 lgthsCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
Donald Davis
James Temple
James MacDonald
Kenneth Jaggard
Max Winkler
+0.75 lgths
EightsFlag of England.svg  England
Basil Beazley
Desmond Kingsford
John Sturrock
John Burrough
John Turnbull
Peter Jackson
Rhodes Hambridge
J. T. Turner
Thomas Reeve (cox)
6:29Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Joe Gould
Alfred Gregory
Ted Bromley
Frank le Souef
Gordon Yewers
Richard Paramor
W.G. Thomas [2]
Bill Dixon
Doug Bowden
+0.75 lgthsFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand
Gus Jackson
Cyril Stiles
Rangi Thompson
Howard Benge
John Charters
Les Pithie
Oswald Denison
James Gould
William Stodart
+2 lgths


Men's events

110 yd freestyleCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Bob Pirie  (CAN)59.6 Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Terry Collard (SAF)60.8Flag of Australia (converted).svg  William Fleming  (AUS)61.0
440 yd freestyleCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Bob Pirie  (CAN)4:54.6Flag of England.svg  Bob Leivers  (ENG)4:55.4Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Robin Biddulph  (AUS)4:55.5
1650 yd freestyleFlag of England.svg  Bob Leivers  (ENG)19:46.4Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Bob Pirie  (CAN)19:59.2Flag of England.svg  Norman Wainwright  (ENG)20:17.4
110 yd backstrokeFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Percy Oliver  (AUS)01:07.9Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Gordon Kerr  (CAN)1:09.0Flag of England.svg  Micky Taylor  (ENG)1:09.3
220 yd breaststrokeFlag of England.svg  John Davies  (ENG)2:51.9 Flag of British Guiana (1919-1955).svg Walter Spence (BGU)3:00.5Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Jimmy Prentice  (CAN)3:00.8
4×220 yd freestyle relayFlag of England.svg  England
Frederick Dove
Mostyn Ffrench-Williams
Norman Wainwright
Bob Leivers
9:19.0Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
George Burleigh
Gordon Devlin
Robert Hooper
Bob Pirie
9:20.2Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Robert Wilshire
Noel Ryan
Robin Biddulph
William Fleming
3×110 yd medley relayFlag of England.svg  England
Frederick Dove
John Davies
Micky Taylor
3:28.2Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
Gordon Kerr
Jimmy Prentice
Bob Pirie
3:30.5Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Ernest Hobbs
Percy Oliver
William Fleming

Women's events

110 yd freestyleFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Evelyn de Lacy  (AUS)1:10.1Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Dorothy Green  (AUS)1:11.1Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Dorothy Lyon  (CAN)1:12.1
440 yd freestyleFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Dorothy Green  (AUS)5:39.7Flag of England.svg  Margaret Jeffrey  (ENG)5:40.2Flag of New Zealand.svg  Mona Leydon  (NZL)5:42.0
110 yd backstrokeFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Pat Norton  (AUS)1:19.5Flag of Wales (1807-1953).svg  Jeanne Greenland  (WAL)1:22.5Flag of Scotland.svg  Margot Hamilton  (SCO)1:23.2
220 yd breaststrokeFlag of England.svg  Doris Storey  (ENG)3:06.3 Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Carla Gerke (SAF)3:12.1Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Joan Langdon  (CAN)3:22.2
4×110 yd freestyle relayCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Canada
Noel Oxenbury
Dorothy Lyon
Mary Baggaley
Phyllis Dewar
4:48.3Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Dorothy Green
Evelyn de Lacy
Margaret Rawson
Pat Norton
4:49.0Flag of England.svg  England
Edna Hughes
Joyce Harrowby
Margery Hinton
Zilpha Grant
3×110 yd medley relayFlag of England.svg  England
Doris Storey
Lorna Frampton
Margery Hinton
3:57.7Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg  South Africa
Carla Gerke
Hazel Holmes
Molly Ryde
4:07.5Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Evelyn de Lacy
Pat Norton
Valerie George


All events were for men only.

BantamweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Ted Purcell  (AUS)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Vernon Blake  (CAN)Flag of England.svg  Ray Cazaux  (ENG)
FeatherweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Roy Purchase  (AUS)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Larry Clarke  (CAN)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Joe Genet  (NZL)
LightweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Dick Garrard  (AUS)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Vernon Thomas  (NZL) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Alfred Harding (SAF)
WelterweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Tom Trevaskis  (AUS) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Felix Stander (SAF)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Jeremiah Podjursky  (NZL)
MiddleweightCanadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  Terry Evans  (CAN) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Peter Sheasby (SAF)Flag of England.svg  Leslie Jeffers  (ENG)
Light heavyweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Eddie Scarf  (AUS) Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg Sidney Greenspan (SAF)Flag of Scotland.svg  Thomas Ward  (SCO)
HeavyweightFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Jack Knight  (AUS)Flag of New Zealand.svg  Jim Dryden  (NZL)Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg  John Whelan  (CAN)

See also

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  1. "Commonwealth Games Federation - 1938 Commonwealth Games - Introduction". www.thecgf.com. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  2. "1938 Sydney Empire Games - History of Australian Rowing". www.rowinghistory-aus.info. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
Preceded by
British Empire Games
III British Empire Games
Succeeded by