The Extinguished Flame by Nigel McCrery

The Extinguished Flame Book Cover

The Extinguished Flame
Nigel McCrery
Pen & Sword
31 Jul 2016


In August 2016 the world will be spellbound by the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as 10,500 athletes from 206 countries compete in 306 events. Tracing their origins back to the Greeks in 776 BC, the history of the Olympics is a glorious one but it has had its darker moments.

During the First World War no fewer than 135 Olympians perished. Many had won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. They came not just from the UK, Germany, France, USA but from all over the globe.

Wyndham Halswelle, killed in action on 31 March 1915, won a Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in both field and track events. The Frenchman Leon Flameng, the fastest cyclist ever, died on 2 January 1917, having won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the 1896 Olympics. The German Fritz Bartholomae, killed in action 12 September 1915, won a Bronze in the rowing eights during the 1912 Olympics. The list of these heroes goes on and on.

Each Olympian, who made the supreme sacrifice, is honoured in this magnificent book by a summary of their life, sporting achievement and manner of their death.

‘The Extinguished Flame’ is a fact finding book about Olympic athletes who died in World War 1. Each athlete has about 1 to 2 pages info on him (yes just men, even though women participate in the Olympics since 1900 it looks like no women Olympic athletes died during World War 1. Of course they where not allowed fighting in this period.)

The book is a very dry, those who are looking for a book which has more background stories (like me) on the athlete and the sports just find a short military record and a short story on the athlete, the sport/event and how he was killed. No fun facts, no stories. It is not a celebration of the lives of these men.

This book might fill up a small niche for World War 1 collectors but it is no addition for those who are looking for sport stories. It will provide you with more info then Wikipedia though.

I do love sports and the stories behind athletes and am not really that much interested in war stories, if it would have been the other way around this book might have been interesting in some way I suppose.

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