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1939 - 1945

Second World War Memorial, Bloxham, Oxfordshire

Ronald William BRIDGES
Wireman, HMS Hood, Royal Navy, RN no. P/MX 62163
He died on 24 May 1941 aged 22
He was the son of George and Mabel Bridges of Bloxham
He has no known grave but he is remembered on Panel 57 Column 1 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial
He has a headstone in Bloxham churchyard
HMS Hood's final voyage began two days earlier at 00.50 hours on Thursday, 22 May, 1941, when she left Scapa Flow in company with battleship HMS Prince of Wales and six destroyers. The crew gained their first clue that something was developing at 19.39 hours on 23 May when full speed was ordered. At 20.02 hours, a message from cruiser HMS Suffolk reported the enemy as one battleship and one cruiser, some 560 kilometres distant and almost directly north of the battle-cruiser force. Speed was increased to 27 knots at 20.54 hours.
On 24 May 1941 The British went to action stations at 00.15 hours. Visibility deteriorated rapidly about a half-hour later. HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales resumed first degree of readiness at 05.10 hours. At 05.35 hours Bismarck and PrinzEugen were sighted, range approximately 38,000 meters. HMS Hood and her consort altered course, HMS Prince of Wales taking station 4 cables distant on HMS Hood's starboard quarter.
HMS Hood opened fire at 05.52 hours, range approx. 25,000 yards. HMS Prince of Wales opened fire at 05.53 hours with her opening salvo being observed as over, the 6th was seen to straddle. Bismarck replied with extreme accuracy on HMS Hood. After the 2nd or 3rd salvo, fire broke out in in the vicinity of the port 4 inch gun. At 06.00 hours, just after Bismarck's 5th salvo, a huge explosion occurred between HMS Hood's after funnel and mainmast and she sank in three or four minutes. 1,415 officers and men of HMS Hood were killed in the explosion, or died in the water shortly thereafter.
John Capel BUTLER
Private, 7th Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 167 Infantry Brigade, 56 Division. Army no. 5381246
He died  in action in the first assault on the Gustav Line on 23 January 1944, aged 28
He was the son of Hermon Seymour Butler and Emily Butler and the husband of Ivy Alice Butler of Bloxham
He has no known grave but he is remembered on Panel 8 of the Cassino Memorial
George Scott DARBY
Captain, Royal Engineers Army no. 38319
He died on 9 September 1943, aged 58
He was the father of Robert, the next entry
He is remembered on the left hand column of Oxford Crematorium
He had served in WW1 in India and the Middle East but had been invalided out of the Army earlier in WW2
Robert George Douglas DARBY
Leading Aircraftman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve RAF no. 1293444
He  died in a training accident in Devon on 15 February 1941, aged 19
He is remembered on the left hand column of Oxford Crematorium
The war memorial has R G S DARBY
Signalman, 3rd Command Signals, Royal Corps of Signals, Army no. 410269
He died on 1 February 1943
He is buried in Grave Sec D (C of E) Grave 163 Tidworth Military Cemetery
There is no birth or marriage listed for M W Faulkner and this record is the only M Faulkner listed in CWGC but it is not convincing
Horace George PREEDY
Gunner, 121 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, 10th Indian Infantry Division, Army no. 994149
He died on 2 July 1942, aged 24
He was the son of Benjamin and Violet M Preedy.
He is buried in Grave 1 J 19 Hadra War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria
Charles Victor SMITH
Private, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 6 Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airlanding Division. Army no. 5388076
He died on 24 March 1945 aged 25
He is buried in Grave 36 B 4 Reichswald Forest War Cemetery
The biggest and most successful airborne operation in history was the assault by the Allies in Operation Varsity. Parachute battalions supported by glider troops from the Air Landing Brigadecrossed the Rhine on 24 March 1945. The aim of the operation was to secure and deepen the bridgehead east of the Rhine and then advance across country to the Baltic coast, 350 miles away. Their initial objectives were the high ground overlooking the crossing point at Diersfordter Wald and the road and rail bridges over the River Issel at Hamminkeln./dd>
540 American Dakota aircraft carried 12 parachute battalions, 5 British,one Canadian and 6 American, closely followed by 1,300 gliders, packed with troops./dd>
The Germans expected the assault and fighting was heavy. Weather was perfect and almost everyone landed as intended, although some ended up in the trees and were cut down by German machine guns. The 5th Parachute Brigade suffered heavily from mortar fire. On the ground the enemy had occupied almost all of the nearby houses, but within 24 hours, all objectives had been achieved and as planned, the division was joined by ground forces of the 21st Army Group. The bridges were secured and the village of Hamminkeln captured./dd>
By the end of the first day's action 1,078 men of the 6th Airborne Division had been either killed or wounded and 50 aircraft and 11 gliders shot down./dd>
In just seven weeks, supported by the tanks of the Grenadier Guards and three regiments of artillery, they marched and fought their way to the Baltic port of Wismar which they entered on 2 May and joined up with the leading elements of Russian troops.
William Alfred WIGGINS
Private, 8th Battalion, Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), 44 Infantry Brigade, 15th(Scottish) Infantry Division. Army no. 5393143
He died on 17 July 1944 aged 21
He was the foster-son of Mrs. M. M. Charles of Bloxham
He is buried in Grave V E 5 Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville
His Brigade landed after D Day on 14 June and he probably died in the fighting for Caen
Harold George YOUNG
Private, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division. Army no. 5385921
He died on 13 June 1944 aged 30
He was the son of Charles Edward and Florence Young and the husband of Margaret Young of Hengoed, Glamorgan
He is buried in Grave IA E 19 Ranville War Cemetery
He is the only UK soldier who died in WW2 who had these initials.
It is probable that he landed in Normandy on D Day and more than that, as part of one of the first units. The story is that immediately before the landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944, there was Operation Deadstick, when D Company, 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry commanded by Major John Howard as well as Royal Engineers and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment (181 men), landed 6 Horsa gliders to capture the vital Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and Horsa Bridge over the Orne River to secure the eastern flank to prevent German armour from reaching the British 3rd Infantry Division that was landing on Sword Beach.
The 2nd (Airborne) Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry landed very close to their objectives at 16 minutes past midnight They were the first Allied unit to land in France. The glider assault completely took the German defenders by surprise. The bridges were captured within 10 minutes, two men, Lieutenant Den Brotheridge (from Smethwick) and Lance-Corporal F Greenhalgh (fron Bury) were killed. One Glider assigned to the capture of Horsa Bridge was landed at the bridge over the River Dives, some 7 miles from where they were meant to land. They, in spite of this, captured the River Dives bridge, advanced through German lines towards the village of Ranville where they eventually re-joined the British forces. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were reinforced half an hour after the landings by 7 Para, with further units arriving shortly afterwards.

Contributed by:
Anne Williams
Email: anne-mc(@)
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Michael Allbrook
Email: michael(@)
To contact Michael, copy and paste the address and remove the brackets around the @ - thank you.