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Memorial pays tribute to war's forgotten casualties
- SIXTY-EIGHT years after the Second World War ended, the men from Botley and North Hinksey who lost their lives will finally be recognised as a new war memorial is unveiled.
The memorial bearing the names of the 11 men is to be dedicated as part of the Remembrance Day Service at St Lawrence Church in North Hinksey on Sunday, November 10.
The church has long had a memorial to the 12 local men killed during the First World War, but has never had one for the Second World War.
After being told that nobody had died from the villages in the conflict, North Hinksey resident Ray Rook decided to look into it further.
An appeal for help in the Oxford Mail last April prompted replies from local families who had indeed lost loved ones.
Some of those families will be present when the new monument is officially dedicated by the honorary assistant Bishop of Oxford, Bishop Bill Down.
Mr Rook said: “It was a big job in the sense that finding people has been incredibly difficult – in the beginning I had no names. But once I found two or three people I felt committed to the job.
“When I look at the memorial now I feel very pleased that we did this and that there is now a fitting memorial to the people who gave their lives.”
Among the names on the new memorial is Lance Corporal Harold Stephen Bury, of the Royal Engineers, who before the war had worked in the grocer, Harold Hicks’s in North Hinksey Lane.
Lance Corporal Bury is buried at Schoonselhof Cemetery in Antwerp, but Mr Rook managed to find out more about him after tracing his daughter, Ann Thorne, 71, of Eynsham Road, Botley, who told him that her father was killed in action in Belgium on November 23, 1945, in a rocket-propelled missile attack.
Also featured is Airman Philip Russell, of the 2nd (Airborne Battalion) Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, who lived in Botley but died in France in July 1944, aged 30, and is buried in France at the Ranville War Cemetery in Calvados.
Mr Rook said: “We still don’t know why a memorial wasn’t created at the end of the Second World War. It may have been that people got to the end of the war and just wanted to move on.”
Sculptor and wood carver John Bye, 81, from North Hinksey, has been furnishing churches in his parish for over 50 years, and said he felt “honoured” to be asked to create the new memorial.
He said: “I started carving it in May this year. It’s made from English oak sourced by a wood turner in Faringdon, and as well as the names of the men it also features the crest of St Lawrence – the gridiron, plus a shelf for a poppy wreath and space for further names if there should be other wars and deaths in conflict in the parish.”
The St Lawrence Church Remembrance Day service will be at 5pm on November 10. LEST WE FORGET
- Services of remembrance for the war dead will take place in the Chapel of Remembrance at Christ Church Cathedral.
- They will take place at 11am on Saturday, November 9 and Monday, November 11, both at 11am.
- Services on Remembrance Sunday, November 10, will be at 10am, 11.15am, 6pm and 8pm.
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