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Research Service

Our experts are always searching for stories about Oxfordshire's soldiers and regiments.

Oxfordshire's Regiments




OBLI Bugle Horn

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI)

Two 18th Century regiments, the 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 52nd Regiment of Foot, went through several name changes.

By coincidence, they often served together, both being founder regiments of the Light Division in 1803, then serving side by side throughout the Peninsular War. In 1881 they were united into the county regiment, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. It then had two battalions, the 1st Battalion being known as the 43rd, the 2nd as the 52nd, together often known as the "43rd and 52nd".
This single regiment served with distinction all over the world until in 1958 they joined the Green Jackets Brigade, a few years later becoming the 1st Bn The Royal Green Jackets. Recently, in 2007, The Royal Green Jackets were in turn absorbed, with three other regiments, into The Rifles. 
Many of the traditions of the 43rd and 52nd became firm habits of The Royal Green Jackets and can still be seen strongly in The Rifles.

One tradition that has been difficult to maintain on this website is the regimental intense dislike of the abbreviation, "OBLI". We hope the ghosts of times past forgive us!

Like many other regiments, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry had many battle honours .
The Buckinghamshire battalions of the regiment, which were largely volunteers, are researched in detail by the Bucks Military Museum Trust.




Oxfordshire Yeomanry Badge

The Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars

The Yeomanry regiments began to be formed for home defence during the Napoleonic Wars. The first Oxford unit was the Oxfordshire Fencible Cavalary, the forerunners of the Yeomanry.
Their service was not distinguished in their early years, but the regiment - originally simply the "Oxfordshire Yeomanry" (hence "OY") - gradually developed its identity and became very much a feature of life in the county; indeed, at times it mirrored the social structure.

After decades of increasingly glorious uniforms, life suddenly became serious when volunteers from the regiment joined the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War, and lives were lost.

An impetus to proper soldiering was the membership of Winston Churchill as the commander of the Henley Squadron for several years; he ensured high standards, which served them well during 4 years active service in France in the Great War.

In subsequent years they became artillery, anti-tank and artillery units; some served in the Far East, many as prisoners on the Death Railway, others in Europe, where they had the doubtful distinction of being the first Allied troops into Belsen.

Now, in the 21st Century, with numbers severely reduced, they are a specialist Signals unit, but their Yeomanry heart beats strongly.

Like many other regiments, the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars has battle honours.




thumb_image_bucks_home_guard_badge

The Home Guard

The Fall of France in 1940, heralded the most serious phase of the war and, in expectation of a Nazi invasion, road signs and station name boards were removed. The regular army was in no state to repel the expected invasion, many of the men who had returned from Dunkirk being totally exhausted, while huge amounts of vital equipment had destroyed in France to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

Under these circumstances, it was decided that a new defence force would be formed for the defence of the British homeland, and on 14th May the Secretary of State for War appealed for able-bodied men aged 17 or over to register for service in a home defence force or local militia to be known as "The Local Defence Volunteers".
Read more about The Home Guard




The Oxford University Officer Training Corps

The Oxford University Officer Training Corps

The 1st Oxfordshire (Oxford University) Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed in 1859 and was established (together with many other volunteer corps across the country) in response to the threat of war with France while the regular army was preoccupied with the Indian Mutiny.

OU OTC
From 1881, the OURVC served as one of several volunteer battalions of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry and in 1887 became known as the 1st (Oxford University) Volunteer Battalion or the Oxford University Volunteers (OUV). One of the other volunteer battalions in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry was the 4th (Eton College) Volunteer Battalion.

The Oxford University Officers' Training Corps (OUOTC) was one of 23 such bodies formed at universities in Great Britain following the establishment of the Officers' Training Corps (OTC) by Royal Warrant in 1908. At Oxford this meant that the Oxford University Rifle Volunteers Corps (OURVC) now formed the basis of the Oxford University Officers' Training Corps.

Officers' Training Corps
An important aspect of the new OTC was the provision of permanent staff from the regular army to provide rigorous training for the cadets. Training during term took the form of short courses (usually about one per week) which took place at a time that did not interfere with University work or sport. Training included parades, attending camp and studying for voluntary examinations.

Although the examinations were voluntary, successful candidates gained some advantages; for example, the holder of certificate B was entitled to a commission in the Special Reserve of Officers or the Territorial Force.

The First World War broke out in the midst of the Long Vacation in 1914 so most undergraduates and many fellows were away from Oxford during the early rush to enlist. For those who were still in Oxford and for others too, the simplest way to join up was to apply to the Delegacy for Military Instruction.

However, the process of applying through the Delegacy was deemed too slow and cumbersome, so the OUOTC set up an ad hoc committee to speed up the application process. By the end of September 1914, the committee had processed around 2000 applications for commissions.

A School of Instruction for young officers was set up in Oxford in January 1915 and regular army officers previously appointed to train the OUOTC were involved with the training and instruction. By March 1916 about 3000 officers had passed through the School. In 1916, the School was superseded by two Officer Cadet Battalions formed at Oxford (these were No.4 Oxford and No.6 Balliol College; Jesus College served as a Garrison Battalion), in which candidates for commissions, many of whom had served in the ranks, underwent a complete course of training for up to seven months.

The strength of each cadet battalion was about 750 men and they were quartered by companies in Keble, Wadham, Hertford, New, Magdalen, Trinity, Balliol, St John’s and Worcester Colleges.

The majority of cadets who passed through Oxford on this scheme were not members of Oxford University. Entrants to an Officer Cadet Battalion had to be aged over 18 and a half and to have either served in the ranks or with an OTC.

After the First World War, the objective of the OTC continued to be 'to train leaders for the Territorial Army and the Supplementary Reserve and to build up a potential reserve of Junior Officers to meet a national emergency'.

In 1948, the Senior Divisions of the OTC were reorganised and became part of the Territorial Army; as a result of this, their name was changed to 'University Training Corps'. This new title remained until 1955 when the term 'Officer' was reinstated and it became once more University Officer Training Corps. The first women were permitted to join the University Training Corps in 1948 though they trained in a separate sub-unit from the men until the early 1960s when they were finally allowed to join what had previously been all male units.