Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1916, was born Alexander Obolensky.

Prince Alexander Obolensky was a Russian émigré, England rugby international and RAF pilot of the Second World War, who died when his spitfire was shot down.  

Obolensky was born in Russia on 17th February 1916, the son of Prince Serge Obolensky, an officer in the Imperial Cavalry. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the family were obliged to flee Russia for the safety of Muswell Hill, London  

Obolensky was educated Trent College, a minor public school, from where he proceeded to Oxford University, where he was more noted for his prowess on the rugby field than for his endeavours in the realm of academe. He gained two blues for Oxford, and went on to play for Leicester Tigers. Obolensky caused a commotion when he was selected for the England rugby side, as technically he was not a British citizen. On his debut for England on 4th January 1936, he scored two tries against the All Blacks, in the first ever English victory against New Zealand.

In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, Obolensky signed up for the Royal Air Force. On 29th March 1940, his spitfire crashed on Martlesham Heath, Suffolk, resulting in a broken neck from which he died the same day, aged 24. Obolensky is buried in Ipswich Cemetery, section XH, grave 423. [Ipswich Cemetery, Cemetery Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 2TZ]

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