“The best memorial of lives given in the defence of England and English ideals is something which will better the lives of those who are left and tend to make more secure the civilization for which our comrades have shed their blood.”
Found within a copy of J.C. Blomfield’s History of Lower and Upper Heyford belonging to the George Dew Collection in the Bodleian Library is a snap shot showing the response of two small Oxfordshire villages to the losses suffered during the Great War.
The work was published in 1892 and is a comprehensive history of the Heyfords from the earliest times. The bookplate confirms it was originally acquired to stock the shelves of the Lower Heyford and Caulcott War Memorial Library. However, twelve typed and handwritten pages inserted at the beginning of the volume show the efforts made by the parish of Lower Heyford (which includes Caulcott) to raise money for a memorial library to commemorate the sacrifice made by the families from the area.
The first annotated page lists the war dead, by location, regiment or corps, date and age. Of eleven killed in action, seven fell in 1917, three in 1916 and one in 1918. The second, third and fourth pages are the typed open letter distributed on behalf of the men serving towards the end of 1917 (one of the undersigned, George Larner, was killed later on 4th November 1917) to the population of the parish appealing for donations to create the memorial library. The quotation above is drawn from this letter, and shows the feeling of the men in their purpose to create lasting memorial to their comrades.
The sixth and seventh pages list the contributors to the fund, ranging from Captain Cottrell Dormer who gave five pounds, down to a Miss Humphries who donated three pence. Many of the surnames of this list are the same as those on list of the dead. Pages eight to ten offer an interesting insight for an Oxfordshire military historian of the Great War. Sixty-two names are listed showing the other men who served from the area who were not killed during the war. Their regiments and corps are listed also, previous and current, thereby showing the transference of manpower from some arms to others. Pages eleven and twelve show other charitable efforts made by the area during the conflict. This included just over £178 raised for the Red Cross Society, while ‘The Egg League’ gathered 60,686 eggs which were sent to the ‘Base Hospital in Oxford.’
Overall, the twelve pages provide an in-depth view of the considerable contribution to the 1914-1918 war effort by a small rural area, and its great cost.
Shelfmark: Vet. A7 d.799
— from Sarah Wheale, Head of Rare Books, Bodleian Libraries