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Post-production   /  Scott Patterson

The Oarsmen

The story of the Diggers who rowed into war at Gallipoli and rowed into peace at the 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR Scott Patterson

  • PRODUCER Scott Patterson



In 1919 hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers are marooned in Europe and sport plays a key role in maintaining a delicate peace. During an uneasy peace, the war weary Anzacs need to be themselves occupied and kept busy until they can be demobilised and shipped home. Sport is one of the solutions put forward to keep the peace. In rowing, a handful of Australian heroes and not-such-heroes take their place in the epic 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta. These men are damaged, disillusioned and displaced by war. After a gruelling selection process, they will need to dispose of their god-like coach, cope with their physical and psychological injuries and learn to work together, before the Australians win the coveted King’s Cup in front of tens of thousands of spectators. This is a story about rehabilitation, repatriation, resilience and rowing.

Support this project

4.99% funded
  • $150,000.00

  • $7,480.00

  • 14

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Michael Nicholson $200.00
Anonymous $1,000.00
Timothy Shaw $100.00
Roger Fitzhardinge $500.00
Max Cattle $500.00
Alexandra Rossi Tiffin $200.00
Lou Clemson $100.00
Sue Smith $50.00
Gillian Campbell $100.00
Gordon Cooper $100.00
Alex Kempson $100.00
Madeleine Gross $500.00
Mark Brooks $50.00
Previous donations 26 donors $3,980.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

This story explores themes of peace, repatriation, rehabilitation, resilience through the sport of rowing. The story explores the distressed states of mind these veterans endured when facing a world with little community or government support. They had to rely on only to their own tenacity and resilience to survive an uncertain post war world. These men rowed into war at Gallipoli and rowed into peace at Henley. The story navigates themes of dispossession, displacement, PTSD, physical wounds leading to the ‘great silence’ that descended on the veterans after the Great War. The innovative ideas of occupation and recovery through teamwork, camaraderie and healthy competition were lost for nearly 100 years until the revival of the Invictus and Warrior Games.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The Oarsmen is about the 'peace' and our collective need to re-examine our approach to peace; assess the cost and enduring human legacy of the survivors. As survivors, many are physically and psychologically traumatised through much more severe and extraordinary experience of death and destruction than many others. I would like the film to engage as a robust discussion between the military, the government and society in evaluating how we measure a peaceful world and its cost.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Raise awareness of mental health and promote the issues of PTSD that afflict servicemen and women. To highlight the role of teamwork and sport in the healing process for those afflicted by war and trauma as they reintegrate back into society.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The Oarsmen has already been taken up at one school by Year 11 students as a devised theatrical production based on the original story. The broader issues of the story, such as revolution in Europe, repatriation and pandemics give the story a strong historical context. My aim is to release The Oarsmen through film festivals, streaming and free to air broadcast. It is important for audiences to understand and embrace ideas of legacy and re-integration of veterans back into society. The Oarsmen uses the portal of sport to engage a wide audience in the historical dilemmas and difficulties of that time and mirror it with those same issues we face today.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

The Australian Defence Force Rowing Club collaborated in filming the historical recreations.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

To understand the different types of psychological trauma that returned servicemen and women experience and the advancement of progressive treatments.
To be informed about this truly inspiring piece of Australian history that resonates just as much today through initiatives such as the Invictus or Warrior Games.
To illustrate how sport, teamwork and resilience can assist people suffering mental health issues and PTSD.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

A raised awareness and discussion of a fascinating piece of Australian military history and how sport and the power of egalitarian teamwork can help recovering veterans reintegrate back into society.