Charles Van Der Byl

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameCharles Fennelly•Van Der Byl
Used nameCharles•Van Der Byl
Born5 April 1874 in Paddington, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died9 February 1956 in Willesden, Greater London, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Charles Van Der Byl was educated at Wellington College before going to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1894. He was commissioned into the 16th Lancers as a second lieutenant in 1896 and served in the 1898-1901 South African War. He was seriously wounded in his arm in September 1900, and was subsequently mentioned in dispatches. Van Der Byl also served in World War I, originally with the Lancers before being promoted to major in the Army Cyclist Corps, and was mentioned in dispatches for a second time. He was also awarded the British and Victory medals, and the 1914 Star.

Van Der Byl was a good all-round sportsman, and at university was a fine athlete, specialising in the high jump. He later came second in the officers’ high jump competition at the 1908 Army Championships at Aldershot. Van Der Byl also played cricket and rackets, and helped organise and referee boxing tournaments during his time in the Army. His other great passion was hunting, and he owned a string of good hunting horses.

As a fencer, Van Der Byl won many trophies at the Épée Club, where he was a member and, after winning the officers sabre versus sabre event at the Royal Naval and Military Tournament at Olympia, he carried off the British sabre title at The Sword Club in 1912, without losing an assault in the final. That year, Van Der Byl represented Great Britain at the Stockholm Olympics and also took part in the Ostend International Tournament, won by France.

In later life, Van Der Byl was passionate about the way rabbits were snared in traps inhumanely, and he sought a ban on Gin Traps. He set about inventing a trap capable of catching rabbits without causing them distress and unnecessary suffering. He wrote leaflets telling people how to humanely kill rabbits, poultry, and other animals. He crusaded right up to time of his death, despite having been crippled with arthritis for many years. Gin Traps were eventually banned in Britain two years after Van Der Byl’s death. In 1937, Van Der Byl published his book My Fifty Years in Sport.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Fencing GBR Charles Van Der Byl
Épée, Individual, Men (Olympic) 5 p6 r2/4
Sabre, Individual, Men (Olympic) 4 p3 r3/4