Donald Wilson

Biographical information

Full nameDonald James•Wilson
Used nameDonald•Wilson
Born26 February 1912 in Melbourne, Victoria (AUS)
Died19 December 1941 in off the coast of Libya (UNK)
NOC Great Britain


Australian Donald Wilson came to England to study at Clare College, Cambridge, where he won his rowing Blue. He was one of two Australians in the eight that beat Oxford in 1934, the other being William Samball. Wilson also won at Henley that year, as a member of the Leander eight that beat Princeton USA to win the Grand Challenge Cup. Wilson was selected for he Great Britain eight at the 1936 Olympics but returned to England a week before the start of the regatta, following a dispute with the GB coach allegedly after it was discovered that Wilson held an Australian passport. Wilson came close to a second Henley win in 1936 when he was in the Leander four that lost to Zurich RC in the final of the Steward’s Challenge Cup.

After University, Wilson worked as mechanical engineer in the chemical industry in Cheshire. At the outbreak of World War II, he joined the RNVR (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) and served as a lieutenant aboard HMS Neptune (20). Unfortunately, she was sunk after hitting several mines off the coast of Tobruk in 1941 whilst en route to Tripoli. The tragedy claimed Wilson’s life at the age of 29, and also that of 736 fellow crew members. Wilson’s body was discovered on a raft near Benghazi.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Rowing GBR Donald Wilson
Eights, Men (Olympic) Great Britain DNS