Lewis Clive

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Lewis Clive
Lewis Clive 1931.jpg
Born8 September 1910
Died(Disputed) - c. 3 August
Hill 481, Spain
Cause of deathShot in the head during combat against Spanish fascists
MonumentsOxford Spanish Civil War memorial
EducationChrist Church,
Heatherdown School.
OrganizationInternational Brigade
AwardsOlympic gold medal in Rowing, 1932

Lewis Clive (8 September 1910 – c. 2 August 1938) was a British rower who won a gold medal in the 1932 Summer Olympics. He volunteered to fight for the republicans in the Spanish Civil War and was killed in action.


Born in Herefordshire, Clive was the younger son of Lt-Col Percy Clive, a Liberal Unionist (later Conservative) MP for Ross who was killed in the First World War.[1] One of his godfathers was Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister 1937-1940.[1] He was educated at Heatherdown Preparatory School near Ascot, then attended Eton where he became the captain of both Oppidans and Boats.[1]

Clive studied at Christ Church, Oxford. He rowed in the losing Oxford boats in the Boat Races in 1930 and 1931. He partnered Hugh Edwards to win the Silver Goblets at Henley in 1931 and 1932.[2] They were selected to compete in the coxless pairs at the 1932 Summer Olympics, where they won the gold medal with a comfortable victory in the final at Long Beach, California.[3]

In August 1932, Clive was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards;[4] he resigned his commission in 1937.[5]

During the 1930s, Clive was strongly influenced by the threat of fascism, moving him politically to the left. He was a member of the Fabian Society and a founding member of the National Council for Civil Liberties in 1934.[1] Clive was elected as a Labour councillor for St Charles ward of the Metropolitan Borough of Kensington.[6]

His The People's Army, with an introduction by Major C. R. Attlee, was published by Victor Gollancz Ltd, under the auspices of the New Fabian Research Bureau in 1938.[7]

Clive fell in love with Mary Farmar (the author Mary Wesley) and asked her to marry him.[8]

Lewis Clive is named on the Oxford Spanish Civil War memorial, erected in 2017

Spanish Civil War[edit]

Clive arrived in Spain on 4 February 1938, where he joined the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.[9] He arrived in time to take part in the fighting against Nationalist forces in Aragon, where he wielded a heavy machine-gun. He accompanied the Republican volunteers during their retreat across the River Ebro.[9] By July, Clive had risen to the rank of company commander of the International Brigades' British Battalion, and recrossed the river, in what became known as the Battle of the Ebro, as part of the final republican offensive of the war.[9] He led his soldiers to attack Hill 481, near Gandesa.[9] After five consecutive attacks on Hill 481, Clive led the final charge on 3 August,[dubious ] when he was killed by a shot to his head.[9]


Lewis Clive is commemorated on at least three memorials: the first in Ebro, the second in Wormbridge Church near Hereford, and the third in Oxford.

He is named on a memorial in the foothills of the Ebro mountains. This memorial is one of the few not destroyed by Franco's forces, and was restored by local people in 2000.[citation needed]

He is commemorated in St Peter's Church, Wormbridge, Herefordshire,[10][11] alongside others members of the Clive family.

The Oxford Spanish Civil War memorial, erected in 2017, includes Clive's name and five other people from Oxfordshire who died fighting for the International Brigades.

Olympic medal record
Men's rowing
Gold medal – first place 1932 Los Angeles Coxless pair


A fictionalised version of Clive appeared in Mary Wesley's novel The Camomile Lawn. The character, Oliver Ansty, was portrayed by Toby Stephens in the TV adaptation.[12]

British folk band The Young'uns’ album and stage show The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff mentions Clive, who was a comrade of Johnny Longstaff in the International Brigade. The song "Lewis Clive" is an exaggerated portrayal of Clive’s swimming ability, describes his bravery during the Spanish Civil War and mourns his loss.


  • Clive, Lewis (1938). The People's Army. Victor Gollancz Ltd.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Farman, Chris; Rose, Valery; Woolley, Liz (2015). No Other Way: Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. London: Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee. p. 63.
  2. ^ Henley Royal Regatta Results of Final Races 1839–1939 Archived 9 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Lewis Clive Bio, Stats, and Results". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ "No. 33852". The London Gazette. 5 August 1932. p. 5061.
  5. ^ "No. 34419". The London Gazette. 20 July 1937. p. 4668.
  6. ^ "News - Latest news, pictures, video - MyLondon". www.mylondon.news. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  7. ^ Clive, Lewis (1938). The people's army. New Fabian Research Bureau (Great Britain). London: V. Gollancz ltd.
  8. ^ Patrick Marnham, "Siepmann (née Farmar), Mary Aline", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  9. ^ a b c d e Farman, Chris; Rose, Valery; Woolley, Liz (2015). No Other Way: Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. London: Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee. p. 64.
  10. ^ "Memorial; L Clive". War Memorials Register. IWM. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  11. ^ http://www.wormbridgeandstdevereux.co.uk/Memorials.htm[dead link]
  12. ^ Marnham, Patrick (2006). Wild Mary: A Life of Mary Wesley. Chatto & Windus. p. 52. ISBN 0701179910.

External links[edit]