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Remembering the 66 Men of Grandpont

THE lives of the First World War soldiers whose names are listed on a war memorial in Oxford’s St Matthew’s Church have been brought to life in a new film, The 66 Men of Grandpont 1914-1918.

Ewan, a teenage cadet who agreed to wear an original WW1 uniform in the film.

Ewan, a teenage cadet who agreed to wear an original WW1 uniform in the film.

Historian Liz Woolley recruited volunteers from St Matthew’s Church in Grandpont to research the lives of the soldiers who were killed in the war. Congregation member, Simon Haynes, an amateur film-maker, co-ordinated the camera work, sound recording and editing.

“We discovered links to the soldiers and connected with relatives,” said Simon. “It was exciting to hear their stories and see their photographs and documents. Some families had the telegrams that were sent when the men were killed in action. These were particularly moving and it made you think about the effect they had on the families who received them. The project grew from nothing and became completely absorbing.”
Census returns, online research, military and college records, local newspapers and other sources revealed details of the 66 men named on the Grandpont War Memorial. A number of the men had worked at Oxford colleges before they were enlisted in the Army, and many were members of the local regiment, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

For Simon, one of the most powerful experiences was visiting the cemeteries and battlefields in France and Belgium. “Being there, where people fought, really brought the reality of it home to me,” says Simon, who found meeting the relatives moving. We got several generations of one family, the Littles, together at Christ Church to film them looking at the poppies that had been brought from the Tower of London,” he said.

A poppy trail was launched in the streets of Grandpont, with a sheet of information about each man, with a poppy, attached to the wall or front gate of the house in which he lived before he went to war. An exhibition was opened at St Matthew’s and has since toured the county, visiting six venues so far.

Simon said: “Before filming for this project I knew very little about this part of history and working with Liz helped me learn so much about it. We’d love to encourage other churches to understand more about the history of their communities, especially during the First World War.” Pictured right is Ewan, a teenage cadet from the Oxford Army Cadet Force, who agreed to wear an original WW1 uniform in the film.

The film has already been shown at a number of venues in Oxford and will be shown on Remembrance Sunday at St Matthew’s Church, Grandpont.

Lottery funding for historic World War One Lychgate

ST NICHOLAS Church, East Challow has received £8,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project, linking the past with the present: the renovation of WW1 Memorial Lychgate and Commemorative plaque, in St Nicholas Church, East Challow.

The Lychgate at St Nicholas Church, East Challow.

The Lychgate at St Nicholas Church, East Challow.

Awarded through HLF’s First World War Then and Now programme, the project will focus on the renovation of the First World War Memorial Lychgate, the provision of a new memorial plaque in the church, and studies by St Nicholas School and the community to explore the familiar links of the names on the memorial with those who still reside in the village, culminating in a public display and re-dedication.

The Memorial Lychgate was funded by public subscription in 1920 and is seen in the village as an important symbol for the identity and cohesion of the community, and its links with the past.
It is unusual in that it contains both the names of the fallen and those who served during WW1.

Children lead Remembrance service

PUPILS led a moving Remembrance service at Great Horwood CofE school.
The public were invited in for the event where a roll of honour of those killed in the First World War was read out. “We are a small village of 400 houses,” said Jo Waggott, a learning support assistant at the Buckinghamshire school. “13 young men were killed in the First World War. Children stood up as the names of those men were read out. There were so many links with the community, it was very moving. Children had made their own wreath and each class made a poppy which was displayed during the event. “We had a two minute silence and everyone was very solemn as they left,” added Jo.

Singing for fun commemorates World War 1

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by Jackie Rix Brown

PARTICIPANTS of a regular event in Purley, near Reading, enjoyed a good old wartime sing-song to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. 01 Lead singers plus chorus P1080598

Singing for Fun is a social gathering that provides the chance to meet and sing for villagers every Thursday. It provides the chance to socialise for older people who may be less able to get out.

To mark WW1 they offered a full concert of rousing tunes reminiscent of 100 years ago. Barry Maskell, pianist accompanied eight singers, backed by a chorus of other Singing for Fun regulars. Quiet reflections were interspersed with music, with an account of research into one relative who had been “missing presumed killed”, along with poetry readings and stories. Cadets in uniform greeted the audience with a poppy and showed them to their seats. The lady singers were dressed as World War One nurses for the first half, then changed into elegant Music Hall attire for the second.

Project Purley had a display in the lobby with biographies of Purley men lost in the war. There was a raffle, bunting in the hall and Union Jacks given for everyone for the patriotic songs. Everyone was given a packet of poppy seeds and encouraged to plant them as a reminder of all those who have died to give us the life we enjoy today. Profit from the evening is going to The Royal British Legion.

A commemoration of war in Wingrave

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by Sarah Kennedy

A SMILE at a solemn summer service came to our faces as we watched the children from Wingrave School sing the poignant songs from the Great War of 1914 – 18 ….. and somehow we were all inspired by a feeling of hope at a sad commemoration of the dead.

Wingrave Parish Church was packed on the 4 August with people who wanted to share the nation’s commemoration of this tragic war, in which 956,703 British and Empire soldiers gave their lives in what was supposed to be the war  to end all wars. The service was led by Revd Helen Barnes and the Revd Siv Tunnicliffe and there were  readings from newspaper articles from that time, a recital by Ray Charman of the  poem ‘For the Fallen’,  Bible readings and hymns associated with acts of remembrance. The British Legion banner was presented and a wreath was placed on the memorial plaque.

The Rt Revd Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, gave the address in which he referred to the Bucks Yeomanry and to the display in the Church of  photographs of ‘Wingrave soldiers’. Bishop Alan recited all the19 names listed on the Memorial Plaque and stressed where families had lost more than one member. Somehow this brought it ‘all home’ … our Parish had given, lost, and deeply grieved for the young men who had been a vibrant part of the Parish community.

100 years later the Parish came in to Church on a summer’s evening to remember them. The children with their happy carefree singing touched our hearts and how those soldiers would have enjoyed the songs!

 

Poppy planting across the Diocese

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On Thursday 1st May, the School Council of Shinfield CE School planted poppy seeds to remind us about the First World War and to take part in the Royal British Legion Centenary Poppy Campaign. Ryan Robinson read a moving poem and Chris Lesley from St Mary’s Church, read us a beautiful prayer. We planted poppy seeds around the tree in front of the entrance of our school. We will also plant some in the new Eco area and look forward to watching our poppies grow.

On Thursday 1st May, the School Council of Shinfield CE School planted poppy seeds to remind us about the First World War and to take part in the Royal British Legion Centenary Poppy Campaign. Ryan Robinson read a moving poem and Chris Lesley from St Mary’s Church, read us a beautiful prayer. We planted poppy seeds around the tree in front of the entrance of our school. We will also plant some in the new Eco area and look forward to watching our poppies grow.

Across the Diocese of Oxford churches and schools have been planting poppies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. Below are some photos. 

The Bishop of Oxford, in conjunction with the Royal British Legion, sent a packet of poppy seeds to all clergy (as well as the all Church schools) and requested that they be planted on May 1st such that ‘the UK is awash with poppies for the centenary of the First World War’.

The Revd Paul Bradish, Rector of Dunsden, Philip Chaimbault, Churchwarden and Linda Glithro, Treasurer of the Dunsden Owen Association.

The Revd Paul Bradish, REctor of Dunsden, Philip Chaimbault, Churchwarden and Linda Glithro, Treasurer of the Dunsden Owen Association.

The poppy seeds given to the Parish of Shiplake with Dunsden and Harpsden cum Bolney were planted on 1st May at All Saints, Dunsden around the graves of Tom and Susan Owen, the parents of the WWI poet, Wilfred Owen.hanboroughforweb

The photo shows the Reverend Paul Bradish, Rector of the Parish, Philip Chaimbault, Churchwarden at All Saints’ Church, Dunsden and Linda Glithro, Treasurer of the Dunsden Owen Association.

Members of the church and the local community have formed the Dunsden Association to celebrate the life and work of the First World War poet, Wilfred Owen who lived in the village of Dunsden, South Oxfordshire from 1911-13. To find out more about the events planned, visit the Dunsden Owen Association

Children from Freeland CE School plant poppies.

Children from Freeland CE School plant poppies.

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Toddlers plant poppies at St John the Baptist, Bodicote.

Toddlers plant poppies at St John the Baptist, Bodicote.

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MP for Amersham and Chesham, The Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham, plants seeds at St George’s Infant School, Amersham.

 

 

 

 

 

Bishop John blesses poppy seeds before they are planted at St Mary and St Giles CE School, Stony Stratford.

Bishop John blesses poppy seeds before they are planted at St Mary and St Giles CE School, Stony Stratford.

Join the Poppy Campaign

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Archdeacon to the Army,the Ven. Peter Eagles, with poppies.

Archdeacon to the Army,the Ven. Peter Eagles, with poppies.

THE Diocese of Oxford is taking part in a special campaign to see a patch of poppies growing in every churchyard and every church school in commemoration of all those who lost their lives in the First World War.

We are taking part in the Royal British Legion (RBL) Centenary Poppy Campaign to see the UK awash with poppies for the centenary. RBL has teamed up with B&Q to produce special centenary packets of seed. Packs cost £2 with £1 in every purchase going as a charitable donation to the RBL, to help support the work the Legion does with the armed forces community.

A packet of seeds will be sent free of charge to every church school and every incumbent at the end of March, with guidelines on how and where to plant them. There will be suggestions of resources to use to help bring the project alive for schools and churches alike.

Fiona Craig, Deputy Director of Education for the Diocese of Oxford welcomed the project. She said: “It is so important that we help children to understand the significance of the First World War and the bravery of those who died fighting. Planting and watching poppies grow is a memorable way of marking this centenary for youngsters in our Church schools.”

World War One remembered

To the Brave

Sarah Wearne writes about memorials of the Great War in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Abingdon War Memorial

Abingdon War Memorial

It is the casualties that dominate our thinking on the Great War, the dead – 10 million soldiers worldwide, one million from the British Empire, 19,240 of these killed on one day alone, 1 July 1916; an unimaginable period of strain and distress, which can be read in the memorials that can be found in virtually every community in Britain.

Many felt the cross, the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, to be the most appropriate form of memorial. Families equated the sacrifice made by their sons with that made by the Son of God; both had “died to save mankind”. The life-sized crucifixes outside St Margaret’s in North Oxford and St Mark’s in Cold Ash speak powerfully of Christ’s agony. Calvary crosses, like the one in Clanfield, tell the same story but less graphically. Eric Gill’s wayside crucifix in Bisham portrays a Christ who has conquered death and now reigns in heaven.

Marcham’s crucifix has weepers but the witnesses of Christ’s death are a soldier and a sailor rather than the traditional biblical figures. Celtic crosses refer to the early days of Christianity in this country. The one at Cookley Green stands on a pile of glacial boulders taking it back to a period “before the hills in order stood”.

Westwell’s huge monolith, reminiscent of a henge monument, is dedicated ‘To the Brave’ and inset with a brass numeral from the face of the clock on the ruined Cloth Hall in Ypres. The numeral is one of many fragments of the war that can be found in the diocese. At St Andrew’s East Hagbourne there is a pair of candlesticks made from the wood of a gun wagon, and at All Saints, High Wycombe the sword and spurs of Lord Wendover, the only son of the Marquis of Lincolnshire.

Several churches possess wooden crosses, original grave markers from the battlefield cemeteries returned to next-of-kin once the permanent war cemeteries were constructed. At St Peter and St Paul’s, Chaddleworth, Major Philip Wroughton’s was returned from Gaza, where he had been killed on 19 April 1917. Major Stuart Rickman’s hangs in St Mary’s, Childrey. Killed at the battle of Le Cateau, twenty-three days after the outbreak of war, he was buried by the Germans who incorrectly described him on the cross as ‘Engl Kapitaine’.

Whilst overt triumphalism is rare in British memorials, St George, whether portrayed in stone, as at Bampton, or stained glass, as at Clifton Hampden, represents the triumph of good over evil. So does St Michael, who can easily be confused with St George but for the fact that Michael as an archangel has wings – beautiful ruby wings in a stained glass window in St Martin’s East Woodhay, vivid blue ones in St James’ Barton Hartshorn.

Abingdon’s bronze soldier, (pictured right) head bowed arms reversed, depicts mourning; Buckland’s stone flame represents eternal life, and the laurel wreaths on memorials like the one ‘To the Men of Bracknell’ symbolise victory.

There is just one village in the diocese, Stoke Hammond, where everyone who served returned safely home, one of only 53 civil parishes in the whole of Britain where this was the case. Everywhere else communities commemorated their dead with a mixture of grief and pride. One hundred years later, the words carved on the memorial lych gate in East Challow still carry a resonance, ‘Ye that live on mid English pastures green; remember us and think what might have been’.

Sarah Wearne is the Archivist at Abingdon School.