John “Jumbo” Weeks

r-a-f-rowing-1963-1983John is central  in the dark sweater, myself, Ian to his left, Kris Brown at back, Nick Nicolls right & Angela Stone next to John. It was taken in 1964, we were all at JARIC, later that year John & Angie got married.

Reading of John Weeks death in “Flashback” came as a great shock to me, as he and I were rowing partners at Brampton during 1963 and 1964. I don’t know how many people are aware of John’s rowing achievements during this time but here’s a quick reminder as a tribute to him.

We had arrived back in the UK from our first overseas tour in 1962 and got involved with the rowing club through the J.A.R.I.C. crews. We were coached in the basics of rowing and both enjoyed the training and the occasional beer up after.

During the following two years we rowed competitively in VIII’s and IV’s and trained in Pairs and Sculls. In 1963 we won the RAF Regatta Junior IV’s event and took part in regattas at Huntingdon, Norwich and Leicester. We also competed in Bomber Command and RAF Head of The River races, which were timed events over longer distances, coming second in both.

On the strength of this we were invited to join the Bomber Command VIII for 1964. This was a big step up for us in the rowing world and we had a great year. The early part of that year was spent being coached in the boat and we covered many miles in some awful weather conditions.

This culminated in the local Head events at Peterborough and St.Neots and the major ones at Reading and London. The aim for the regatta season was to row at Henley Royal Regatta in July and our training was geared towards this. Leading up to this we entered and won Senior Eights at Evesham, Birmingham and Peterborough and the RAF Regatta.

We spent the month of June at RAF Medmenham and rowed two or three times a day at Henley, mixing with top rate crews including the GB squad for the Tokyo Olympics. After all this effort we won on the first day but lost by a quarter of a length the following day, a huge disappointment to us all. During the remainder of that year we raced at various regattas reaching some finals but no further wins. The crew was starting to break up and by the latter part of the year many of us were posted.

John and I were great mates throughout this time and supported each other through the highs and lows of the sport. We went our separate ways in January, both posted overseas and only met up once very briefly some years later.

Ian Evans

“Jumbo” joined the Boy Entrants on l6″‘ October I956, but as far as I can recall, I never actually served with him after Cosford. If my memory serves me correctly his nickname was derived from the fact that he had lived in Kenya during his childhood, so I guess in terms of inventiveness, “Jumbo” was just about what one would have expected! He was a nice guy and I was sorry to hear of his death.

He had been approached a number of times to join the association but we were never successful in persuading him to do so.

By kind permission of the RAF Photographers Association magazine ‘Flashback’


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