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Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum Blog

SOFO's Reminiscence Pod - built with community support!

SOFO Museum’s Reminiscence Pod A successfully funded project – with help from the local community! With support from West Oxfordshire District Council and the Tesco Bags of Help scheme, SOFO installed a Reminiscence Pod in the main gallery in 2019. The pod was unveiled during a special Collections Day event held at the museum on 2 November 2019, with content developed and curated by our Collections Manager Peggy, along with…

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Operation Pig Ark - Uncovering an Anderson Shelter in 2020

Operation Pig Ark – Uncovering an Anderson Shelter in 2019 In 2019 members of the SOFO Museum Team collected an Anderson shelter roof from a farm in Deddington, Oxfordshire, where it had been repurposed into a pig ark. The metal was attached to large wooden blocks which were anchored to the ground, so our team had to carefully prise the metal away from the wood to free it. The roof was in several parts…

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Can You Help Us Build A WW2 Air-Raid Shelter?

How You Can Help Build a Second World War Air-Raid Shelter At SOFO we tell stories of everyone affected by war in the county of Oxfordshire; from the soldier on the front line to ordinary families on the home front. Our small but dedicated team of staff and volunteers work hard to tell these stories of conflict and county in many different ways, including museum displays and learning sessions. Our latest…

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Refugee Week 2021 - Gunner Gerin: Refugee and Liberator

Refugee Week 14-20 June 2021 ‘Gunner Gerin: Refugee and Liberator’ How did a Jewish Polish refugee come to be one of the liberators of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945? A brief mention in a soldier’s war-time diary led Harry Staff, a volunteer researcher with the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, to track down a remarkable story. Gunner Henry Gerin was formerly Henryk Bochynski. Born 1905 in Poland he arrived in…

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Bergen-Belsen - Beyond May 1945

Bergen Belsen – Beyond May 1945 Nic Vanderpeet (SOFO Learning and Outreach Officer) Arthur Tyler, second left, with other men of the 63rd Anti-Tank Regiment (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), near Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, 1945. The survivors of Bergen Belsen would continue to live in camps after their liberation in April 1945. Camps were established to house Displaced Persons (DPs). Displaced persons were those who had been deported or sent as forced labour to…

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Pegasus Stories: A Letter From Major John Howard in Normandy, 1944

Letter from Major John Howard in Normandy, 1944 These brief diary-style letters from Major John Howard DSO were published in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Quarterly Journal November 1944 and cover his experiences in the months following the successful operation to capture of the Caen Canal and Orne River bridges which he led. In the two brief entries he describes everything from his experience of landing to the quality of his…

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Star Objects - Waterloo

Star Objects – Waterloo OBLI:5356 – unattributed print of an Officer of the 52nd Foot c.1815   To get us prepared for our upcoming Waterloo lecture with historian Gareth Glover, we will be looking at a few of the Waterloo-era objects from our archive. In this post we will look at the uniform of an Officer of the 52nd.   OBLI:5803 – 52nd Officer’s shako c.1815   This shako was…

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Pegasus Stories: Day by Day - A 2nd Battalion, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry Diary, June 1944

Day by Day: A 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Diary, June 1944 After individual accounts from officers in our last two Pegasus Stories, this time we’re sharing a broader regimental account which covers the men’s experiences day by day, and at times hour by hour, following their gliderborne arrival on 6th June 1944. Building on details from the last two accounts we posted, we hear more about the…

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Pegasus Stories: Captain Priday's Account

Pegasus Stories: Captain Priday’s Account As anyone watching The Pegasus Bridge Story will know, five of the six gliders that made up the ‘coup de main’ party tasked with capturing the Orne River and Caen Canal landed remarkably close to their objective, and soon after had successfully taken them both. However one landed about 8 miles off course at another bridge near Varaville, over a different river – the Dives. The…

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Pegasus Stories: Parachute Operations

Pegasus Stories Following the success of The Pegasus Bridge Story, a  Lockdown Lecture produced in co-operation between the Army Flying Museum and Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, we’re posting a series of blogs which include accounts of the events surrounding D-Day and the capture of the bridges from individuals involved – many written in the months that followed. In this first Pegasus Story is an account of Parachute operations in the early…

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The Pegasus Bridge Story - A Thank You To All Our Supporters

The Pegasus Bridge Story – SOFO Thanks You After a few unfortunate technical issues meant we initially had to reschedule what would be our first online talk, the Pegasus Bridge Story succesfully broadcast to an audience of over 800 viewers from 7pm on Thursday 21st January and many, many, more watching the archived video of the lecture over the following days. While the talk was the first in what we…

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The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831 (Part 3)

The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831 (John D Ellis) Marking Black History Month 2020, we’re publishing a series posts by John D Ellis, researcher, historian and educator specialising in race and ethnicity in Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. John’s research sheds light on little-known stories of black soldiers serving with the forerunners to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. This final part looks at the stories of a few…

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The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831 (Part 2)

The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831 (John D Ellis) Marking Black History Month 2020, we’re publishing a series posts by John D Ellis, researcher, historian and educator specialising in race and ethnicity in Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. John’s research sheds light on little-known stories of black soldiers serving with the forerunners to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. This second part goes into more detail about…

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The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831

The Black Soldiers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiments 1782-1831 (John D Ellis) Marking Black History Month 2020, we’re publishing a series posts by John D Ellis, researcher, historian and educator specialising in race and ethnicity in Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. John’s research sheds light on little-known stories of black soldiers serving with the forerunners to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.   In the eighteenth century the fashion for…

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Oxford Open Doors 2020 - The Regimental Chapel

Oxford Open Doors – The Regimental Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral Unfortunately the ongoing Covid-19 situation meant that this year, the usual tours of the Regimental Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral didn’t go ahead during Oxford Open Doors. As an alternative we’re updating the blog with some background information on the Chapel, along with a few images, from A brief guide to the Regimental Chapel Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The…

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VJ Day - The Oxfordshire Yeomanry

VJ Day 63rd (Oxfordshire Yeomanry) Anti-Tank Regiment RA (TA) War In the Far East 251 Banbury Battery Prisoners of War in Thailand In February 1942, Singapore fell and the men of 251 Battery who had been involved in the attempt to defend it became some of the 61,000 prisoners taken by the Japanese. for three and a half years they were prisoners and used as slave labour, made to work…

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VJ DAY 15th August 1945

VJ DAY 15th August 1945 On the 15th August 1945, Japan finally surrendered to the allies bringing the bitter fighting in the last theatre of the second world war to an end. This day would be known afterwards as “VJ Day” or “Victory over Japan Day”. On this day two units of the county’s infantry regiment were present in theatre:- The 6th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and a…

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Dunkirk

The week starting on the 25th. May eighty years ago, was to be a memorable week for the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. On the day that Lord Gort the commander of the British Expeditionary Force made the crucial decision to evacuate his troops through Dunkirk, three battalions of the Regiment were ordered to take up positions on the perimeter of the pocket that was being formed to protect the…

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Operation Dynamo

Operation Dynamo….80 years ago in May Shortly after the first Blitzkreig strike on 10 May 1940, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was in disorganised withdrawal before the tide of German Panzers, and Operation Dynamo jolted into action. A 60 mile escape corridor was organised to buy time for the BEF to evacuate from Dunkirk. The 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion and the 4th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the TA Battalions…

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VE Day QOOH

Having entered Belsen on 15 April 249 Battery were relieved on the 20th of April. From Belsen the battery moved to Celle. Its task in Celle was to establish a camp for newly released Russian Prisoners of War (PoWs) Having been in Celle for just over a week another move was made to Luneberg where the battery would undertake garrison duties in the town. Luneberg would become famous for the…

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VE Day May 4th 1945

At 6.20pm on the 4th May 1945 in a tent on Luneberg Heath in Northern Germany a German delegation signed the instrument of surrender of all German forces in Holland, Denmark and North Western Germany. The surrender was taken by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery commanding the 21st Army Group comprising the British Second Army and the First Canadian Army. The cease fire in the British and Canadian sector was to…

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Flight Lieutenant Bernard “Pop” Green RAFVR, MC Great Escaper and Long March Survivor.

Flight Lieutenant Bernard “Pop” Green RAFVR, MC Great Escaper and Long March Survivor. Bernard Green from Bourne End, Bucks survived both the Great War and the Second World War – just. 2nd Lieutenant Bernard Green served with distinction in the First World War at Ypres and on the Somme on the Western Front in the Territorial 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was seriously wounded twice,…

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Anzac Day

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Hauraki Regiment 25 April is ANZAC Day in New Zealand. ANZAC Day is the equivalent of Remembrance Day in the UK. ANZAC Day commemorates the landing at dawn of New Zealand troops, along with Australian, British, French and Indian forces, on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th of April 1915. This is viewed as the first time New Zealand fought under its…

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The Legacy of Bergen-Belsen

Bergen Belsen – The Legacy The liberation of Bergen Belsen began on the 15th of April but the legacy of the camp would remain. The Queens Own Oxfordshire Yeomanry (QOOY) were in the camp between the 15th and  the 20th of April 1945. Some of the men have shared their stories… Contacting families – Arthur Tyler On display at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum is a piece of paper with…

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15th April 1945: Taking Over the Camp

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Bergen Belsen by units of the British Army including the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH). Commemoration of the events of the 15th April 1945 ensures that the horrors experienced by those involved, both liberators and liberated are not forgotten and that the lessons of the Holocaust are not lost due to the passage of time. The War…

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‘Operation Plunder’ – Crossing the Rhine

Operation Plunder started on 23 March 1945. Operation Plunder was a combined operation of amphibious and airborne assaults by US, British and Canadian troops. 249 Battery crossed the River Rhine on the night of 26 March. Between crossing the Rhine and the middle of April the regiment experienced a lot of ‘toing and froing’. Firstly the regiment came under the command of the 6th Airborne Division. Within days the regiment…

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Into Germany

C Troop of 249 Battery returned to Mierloo on 8 March. On the 13th the Battery (minus A Troop who had moved the previous day tasked with providing protection for the Royal Artillery 8 Corps Headquarters) left for the German town of Issum. There is little reported in the War Diary between the 9th and the 20th apart from details of moves made by the various batteries of the 63rd…

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IN HEUSDEN - More information

January 1945 In October 1944, 249 Battery, 63 Anti-Tank Regiment (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), Royal Artillery arrived in France and moved forward into Belgium. The battery’s duties consisted mainly of guarding the flank of advancing troops as they moved into the Noord Brabant region of the Netherlands. In January 1945 249 Battery established their headquarters in the Dutch village of Heusden. As the first Allied soldiers the villagers had seen they were made…

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THAW POINTS - WINTER 1945

The effects of the winter thaw of 1945 were varied for the men of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry. The roads of Noord Brabant suffered considerable damage and according to the War Diary of 7 February…”All available men from the Regiment were sent on road repairing….road to be repaired was the Deurne to Venray Road.” 10 February ‘C’ Troop of 249 Battery were moved to the Boxmeer area to protect a bridge across…

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IN HEUSDEN

January 1945 In October 1944, 249 Battery, 63 Anti-Tank Regiment (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), Royal Artillery arrived in France and moved forward into Belgium. The battery’s duties consisted mainly of guarding the flank of advancing troops as they moved into the Noord Brabant region of the Netherlands. In January 1945 249 Battery established their headquarters in the Dutch village of Heusden. As the first Allied soldiers the villagers had seen they were made…

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75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF BERGEN BELSEN

2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum will be following the story of the men of 249 Battery, 63 Anti-Tank Regiment (Oxfordshire Yeomanry), Royal Artillery from January 1945 to the end of the war. These men and others would be involved in, what was described by the battery commander, Major Barnett as “one of the most extraordinary and…

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LOOKS LIKE LAMB FOR DINNER!

Members of 252 (City of Oxford) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Artillery outside the cookhouse Christmas 1940. 252 Battery were stationed on the south coast of Britain during this period. They would go on to serve in North Africa and Italy before the war ended. We would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum.

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OBJECT OF THE MONTH - DECEMBER 2018

Try to guess what the theme is for December’s OOTM… of course it’s Christmas!In previous OOTMs I have tried to stick with a theme for each month, which has proved fairly difficult for some months. Luckily, we have many Christmas cards sent from and to Oxfordshire soldiers in our archive, so I was rather spoiled for choice.I also featured a Princess Mary tin, with 1914, 1918 and 2018 Christmas cards,…

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OBJECT OF THE MONTH - NOVEMBER 2018

November’s Object of the Month (OOTM) was chosen by another of our work experience students; Adam. He chose further items from the Private Alfred Franklin collection – many of these objects were also displayed in our Oxfordshire Remembers Part II exhibition, which has now finished.Adam chose a letter detailing Franklin’s struggle with Spanish Flu, with two photographs and his forage cap displayed alongside. I think that whilst displaying one object…

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OBJECT OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2018

October’s Object of the Month (OOTM) started well, as I forgot to photograph it. The images attached to this blog post are from the object itself, and I printed them out alongside for the display.The object was a notebook of recipes from Gunner L H Webster, who was born in Oxford and attended the Army School of Cookery in Weymouth in the August of 1915. I liked this notebook for…

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OBJECT OF THE MONTH - SEPTEMBER 2018

September’s Object of the Month (OOTM) was a recent acquisition to the museum, and one of my personal favourites! They are wooden models of buildings in the Oxfordshire town of Deddington, used by the local Air Raid Precautions to plan their operations during the Second World War.This object was great fun to display as I had free reign to arrange it as I wished! No wonder the previous owner’s children…

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OBJECT OF THE MONTH - AUGUST 2018

As part of their work experience this year, two students Oscar and Oliver chose to display a No32 telescopic rifle sight for the Lee Enfield No4T as the Object of the Month (OOTM).The sight was a slightly awkward object to display due to the various dials and fixtures that prevented it lying flat! As the OOTM case has to be moved around a lot to switch the lights on, I…

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DONATION OF THE DAY

Today we were donated a leaflet about the multi-use ‘Kredemnon’, a WW2 version of the more modern snood. It seems like it was a very versatile garment – you can even ‘Make a skirt of it while your clothes are drying’!The leaflet wishes ‘Good Luck’ to those brave soldiers who wanted to try it out…Do you have any 1930’s – 1970’s items that are related to Oxfordshire soldiers? SOFO are currently…

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LANCE CORPORAL FREDERICK JAMES HODGKINS

Lance Corporal Hodgkins was part of the volunteers attached to the 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He served in Second Boer War in South Africa from 1901-1902, and later served in WWI.Although we do not hold much information on Hodgkins in our soldier database; his objects reveal some interesting insights into his life. The first image shows a collection of objects owned by Hodgkins: a pocket…

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PRIVATE THOMAS EDWARD TAYLOR

Private Thomas Edward Taylor (201095) worked as a hairdresser in Oxford before joining the 2/4th Battalion of the OBLI in October 1914. He was the barber of the battalion until he was honourably discharged aged 26 in 1918 as being ‘no longer fit for war’. He was later awarded the Silver War Badge for his service. Upon his return to England Taylor set up his own business in Oxford, and…

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COLOUR SERGEANT FREDERICK JOHN BROOKS

Frederick Brooks, or ‘Freddie’ as he was known, was born in St Giles, Reading in March of 1881. Employed as a general labourer, he was originally enlisted to the 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment, but later transferred to the 4th Battalion then 6th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He saw service in France and Flanders from 1st Sept 1917, and was awarded both the British War and Long…

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WELCOME TO THE SOFO COLLECTIONS BLOG!

This blog aims to open up the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum archive and share more of our objects and stories. We will also have updates on what’s been happening at the museum, videos describing our Object of the Month, and news of new collections projects and volunteering opportunities.

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