Imagine having just a scant 66 characters including spaces (less than half that of the original short messages posted on Twitter) to convey an outpouring of all that families need to say in a final goodbye to a loved one. Now imagine that at a rate of 3½d per character this would add up to more than half your weekly salary!
This explains why many of the UK Commonwealth War Grave headstones contain only the basic facts about the fallen whose final resting place they mark.
These and more interesting facts are easily discovered when exploring the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website.
In 2017 Witney Town Council did just that while researching its war graves as part of the Heritage Open Day event that revealed the history of Tower Hill Cemetery. Part of the exhibition included the very first book of burial records for Tower Hill which covers the war years of WWI.
There has been cause, recently to revisit that information and history with the installation of our latest CWGC headstone. The stone is that of Royal Engineer, Pioneer Frederick, George Reginald Moore who died aged just 22 years old and although his stone is the latest to placed in the cemetery, he is among the first of those recorded as interred there.
Along with his stone there is also now a green plaque that declares the existence of War Graves in the Cemetery. There are twelve in total in Tower Hill Cemetery (seven WWI and five WWII). Some of our war dead are interred in family plots and do not have a CWGC headstone, some are in graves that are not marked with any sort of memorial.
A map showing the locations and a list of each of the fallen has been placed in the Tower Hill cemetery noticeboards for those wishing to discover them on a short walk.
You can locate War Graves anywhere using this link
There are two more WWI stones and a plaque at Holy Trinity Churchyard, while Lucy Harris is recorded as being laid to rest in the Churchyard at St Mary’s Cogges (though her grave is not marked).
All the Commonwealth War Graves are kept cleaned and maintained by the commission, and each year poppy markers are placed on each of them.
A walk through the cemeteries is a great opportunity to take a more in depth look at some local history. The CWGC website is a must for more insights into the origins of the headstones and the difficult choices that had to be made while allowing as much freedom as possible for people of all cultures to honour their loved ones.
List of information from the War Graves Chart
1 Beale Walter Leonard Harold: Age 24: T/133335: 19-Jul-40 Driver: Royal Army Service Corps:
Husband of Kathleen May Beale, of Witney:
Section 6 Grave 6160
2 Salt Albert Walter: Age 21: 1316986: 05-Sep-43
Sergeant: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve:
Son of Ivy M. Salt, and stepson of Mr. F. Clanfield, of Witney:
AGE SHALL NOT WEARY HIM NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN
Section 6 Grave 6161
3 Miles SJ: Age 27: 200630: 25-Oct-18
Cadet: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 1st/4th Bn.:
Son of Charles William Miles, of 47, The Lodge, Wood Green, Witney:
Section U Grave 4369
4 Townsend A: Age 51: 33885: 28-Dec-16
Private: Royal Defence Corps 24th Protection Coy.:
Husband of Florence Townsend, of 57, The Crofts, Witney:
REST IN PEACE
Section L Grave 2538
5 Moore Frederick George Reginald: Age 22: 24327: 22-Oct-17 Pioneer: Royal Engineers 26th Field Coy.:
Son of Frederick Moore of Little Ducklington, Witney, Oxon:
Section L Grave 2450
6 Churchill H: SS/23077: 21-Oct-18
Private: Army Service Corps Secondary Unit, Regiment transf. to (299174) Labour Corps:
Section P Grave 3264
7 Yeoman Bryan Frank Lawson: Age 21 11-May-18
Royal Air Force Secondary Unit, 1st/4th Bn.: London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers):
Section P Grave 3269
8 Cox James: Age 36: 54658: 20-Jan-19
Private: Welsh Regiment 13th Bn.:
Son of Henry and Fanny Cox, of 14, Station Rd., Witney; husband of Matilda Cox, of 21, Highworth Place, Witney:
PEACE PERFECT PEACE
Section P Grave 3371
9 Doolittle Charles Massie: Age 23: 08-Oct-18
Second Lieutenant: Royal Air Force 33rd Training Depot Station: Son of Charles L. and Jessie Doolittle, of Elora, Ontario, Canada.: Enlisted in 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles at London, Ontario:
Section P Grave 3485
10 Free Walter Thomas: Age 22: 1923801: 26-Jul-41
Sapper: Royal Engineers:
Son of Charles Thomas Free and Gertrude Amelia Free, of Stratford, Essex:
SWEET IS THE MEMORY THAT WILL NOT FADE OF HIM WE LOVED BUT COULD NOT SAVE
Section J Grave 2957
11 Simpson Harold: Age 26: EX.2938(T): 06-Jun-44
Lance Corporal: Royal Marines No. 48 R.M. Commando:
Son of John and Nora Simpson, of Witney.
SO HE GAVE HIS BELOVED LIFE. “TO THE WORLD A MARINE, TO US THE WORLD”
Section N Grave 3295
12 Florey Randall Clifton: Age 25: 5387950: 10-Dec-44
Lance Corporal: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 1st Bn:
Son of Herbert Ernest and Elsie May Florey; husband of Nellie Florey, of Witney.: Buried in family plot -not CWWG headstone. His brothers Graham Starkey and Reginald Alan Florey also fell:
Section M Grave 3280
More Living Roof Bus Shelters for Witney
Four new bus shelters have been installed in Witney as part of a joint project by Oxfordshire County Council and Witney Town Council following a review of bus stops in Witney. Both councils worked with bus shelter contractor, Externiture, to look at how improvements could be made.
The majority of the funding for the project has come from Oxfordshire County Council, as the work also includes kerb changes and additional hardstanding to make bus stops more accessible for residents.
The shelters have sedum living roofs which will help toward both Council’s climate objectives.
Contrasting, green coloured seats are designed to assist visually impaired passengers. The changes demonstrate a commitment to enhancing active travel options and travel routes for all.
Cllr Smith, Leader of Witney Town Council said:
“The council is delighted to be working with Oxfordshire County Council to bring new and updated shelters for waiting for buses. The county has adopted the style that has worked well on Burwell, with the living roof (the first in Oxfordshire!). We continue to encourage and support travel by bus.”
Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport Management, said:
“Many people rely on the bus to get them where they need to be, and we want to improve public transport wherever we can. So, it’s great news that these shelters with their innovative living roofs will soon be in place, making life more pleasant for passengers while they wait.”
The new shelters are located at Newland, High Street and Thorney Leys (x2). Temporary bus stops will be located nearby, for the duration of the works.
This fabulous offer is open to organisations and child minders, parents & carers in Witney, and those that run sessions for parents and pre-school children here in the town.
Come and join our Nature NOW Forest School Leaders for a session of child-led exploration in a green space near you.
Each session will be led by two qualified and experienced Forest School Leaders who will bring simple resources and offer support for you to go off on an adventure with your pre-schoolers.
This is also an opportunity to meet and share ideas with other
childminders, parents and carers, and for the little ones to meet and have fun together in the outdoors. Together we will build nature connections and confidence to explore new natural spaces.
How to book – book early as spaces are limited!
1. Email us to book a place and find out more information email@example.com
There is no cost for the sessions.
2. We will email to confirm your place and send you a booking link with further details on directions, public transport, parking, accessibility, etc.
Session times and dates – from 9:30 – 12:30 drop in anytime!
● Thursday: 28th September – Mill Meadow
● Thursday: 5th October – Ducklington Lake
● Thursday: 12th October – Mill Meadow
● Thursday: 19th October – Ducklington Lake
● Thursday: 2nd November – Mill Meadow
● Thursday: 9th November – Ducklington Lake
Rain will not stop play, wild wind and lightning will! – if wind or lightning is forecast, we will reschedule to another date.
You will be responsible for your children’s safety at all times.
These sessions are generously funded by Witney Town
Council, by way of a grant.
The Nature NOW project was originally set up by Where The
Fruit Is and Oxfordshire County Council, in response to the
pandemic and the lockdowns that stole so many
opportunities for children (and adults!) to play together.
Nature NOW (Nurturing Our Wellbeing) helps children and
adults, whether parents or carers, grow with and in nature.
Supported by Witney Town Council
It is with a special sense of pride that we hear that our dear friends in Witney’s French Twin-Town, Le Touquet will pay a remarkable homage to our late Queen when it renames its airport Elizabeth II Le Touquet-Paris-Plage International Airport.
Councillor Owen Collins Mayor of Witney commented,
“We are deeply touched and grateful by this gesture from the town of Le Touquet, acknowledging her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The people of France took the Queen to their hearts during her lifetime, and as well as providing a lasting memorial to her relationship to the country, this renaming will also further strengthen the bond between Le Touquet and Witney, which has stood for over forty years and which we hope will share in the Queen’s longevity.“
Officials sought permission from King Charles III less than a week after the Queen’s death in September last year and permission was granted earlier this week.
It is hoped that the strong links and close friendship that already bind Witney and Le Touquet will be felt throughout the UK.
Witney has been twinned with Le Touquet Paris Plage (‘Paris by the Sea’) since 1980 and over this time we have shared a great number of civic and cultural events, friendly challenges and games and fostered some warm friendships. We even have a little area of Witney in the Woolgate Centre named Le Touquet Square.
The official document explains (in French) the historic links between Le Touquet and the UK and contains more details about the agreement.
Looking for things to occupy your young people over the summer holidays? We have a handy list of activities, some paid and some free. There is something for everyone from toddlers with their mums to young adults.
Information for this poster was supplied by the following
organisations and was correct at the time of publication.
Oxfordshire County Council
Thames Valley Police
West Oxfordshire District Council
Witney Community Church
Witney Town Council
Open this Holiday Youth Provision pdf which has clickable links to take you through to more information.
A grieving 9-year-old girl’s touching wish to send a letter to her grandparents who had passed away has led to the installation of post boxes to heaven in 36 crematoriums nationwide.
Witney Town Council decided that Matilda Handy’s idea is such a lovely one, that they wanted to make this service available to Witney residents too, so the Council is delighted to be installing the cream-coloured post boxes in both Tower Hill and Windrush cemeteries.
Councillor Rachel Crouch, Chair of Halls, Cemeteries and Allotments commented,
“What a beautiful idea and such a kind way to support grieving families.”
Feedback has shown that the act of writing a letter, or posting a card or picture to a lost loved one has brought therapeutic comfort to many people using the boxes and it is hoped that ours too, will offer comfort to those grieving on a daily basis and help ease the more acute feelings of loss felt on anniversaries and special days.
Melanie Jones, Chair of Witney Friends of the Cemeteries group thinks this is wonderful news,
“I am delighted that one of the Post Boxes to Heaven is now in place at Windrush cemetery. This offers those who are missing their loved ones the opportunity to post cards and letters to heaven. Witney Town Council is always keen to support those who are grieving in any way possible, and we thank them.
We are looking forward to seeing a post box in Tower Hill cemetery too, in due course.”
The post boxes are not exclusively for use by those with people buried in the town’s cemeteries. They are available to anyone who is grieving that might take comfort in this connection with their loved ones.
You don’t need a stamp as the boxes will be administered and emptied, when full, by Town Council staff and the contents will be treated sensitively, confidentially and with respect.
We do ask that you don’t post anything other than paper and please do not put anything precious that you will want to keep in the boxes as we cannot return things once they have been posted.
Wow, it’s been beautifully sunny, and so it might seem hard to imagine Christmas, BUT … can you help us with a design for a new Christmas Light for Witney Town Council’s Christmas lights display?
The competition is open to any child currently at primary school in Witney, and we also welcome entries from children enrolled in Witney community groups, such as Brownies, Beavers and others, as well as entries from primary age children resident in Witney.
The winning design will be turned into a super-size 1.5m x 1.5m light, which will be installed on the Town Hall this year as an integral part of the town’s Christmas display. The Town Council also displays some, still serviceable winning lights, from previous years.
Some tips for creating a good design:
- Fill the space with your Christmas themed design so that it touches the edge of the frame.
- Keep it simple so that it can easily be re-created in lights.
- Choosing to design something we don’t currently have will improve your chance of having your design selected. We have a bauble, Christmas pud, star, robin, penguin, candy cane and reindeer.
Entries can be submitted by email, post or delivered to the Town Council office. Download the Witney Town Council Christmas Light Competition 2023 template or you can simply draw a square on a sheet of A4 paper. Please submit your entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Witney Town Council, Town Hall, Market Square, Witney, OX28 6AG.
THE CLOSING DATE IS FRIDAY 21ST JULY
Pictured is Dominic, last year’s winner of this competition, and some of our previous winning designs.
Windrush Day, 22 June 2023, marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival at Tilbury docks, of the HMT Empire Windrush Ship bringing the first few hundred British Caribbean citizens, who were invited to come and help rebuild a nation that was suffering labour shortages following the impact of WWII.
The day celebrates the contributions of nearly half a million people who made that same journey between 1948 and 1970. It recognises the positive impact and historic contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants to our culture and country.
The river Windrush, after which the ship was named, runs through our town. To acknowledge this link and to offer an opportunity to learn more about this fascinating period of history and the experiences, good and bad, of those brave people, Witney Town Council has installed a small Windrush reading corner in 1863 café bar.
There is a selection of books for all ages for café users to read and a risograph print based on original illustration by Kim Thompson depicts the arrival of the Windrush generation in 1948. 100% of the profits from these prints go to BME Cancer Communities here in the UK.
Cllr Ruth Smith, Leader of Witney Town Council commented,
“We all use the word Windrush in daily life, with so many things named after our beautiful river. Our ears prick up at news items about the Windrush Generation and their descendants. We are grateful for all they have brought to UK society and we stand in solidarity with those still affected by injustice. These resources are a chance for Witney residents to learn more and to appreciate the history and legacy more deeply.”
Cllr Owen Collins, Mayor of Witney, added,
“I don’t think we all make the connection between our own River Windrush and the Windrush Generation, but that remarkable generation, and the ship that carried that, took its name from the river, like so many other businesses and locations throughout our town. It’s right that we commemorate and celebrate this connection, and on this 75th anniversary, I’m delighted that we’re able to properly mark this link, and the immense contribution that the Windrush Generation have made to our country for three quarters of a century.”
Join us for a weekend of commemorative events celebrating the historic occasion of the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. There is something for everyone, from the chance to watch the Coronation and the Coronation Concert on the Corn Exchange big screen, to A Big Lunch in the Park, and a children’s Make & Play event.
Further details about some of the events are below:
The Coronation Screening in the Corn Exchange on the morning of Saturday 6th May will begin at 10am to include the procession to Westminster Abbey. Beforehand our Town Crier will deliver the official Coronation Cry in the Market Square at 9:45.
The Children’s Make & Play event offers the chance to create your own wooden Charles and Camilla peg dolls, finger puppets, a cardboard crown, or a red, white and blue ribbon twirler. You can take part in some colouring and puzzle activities, test your skill at sticking the gem on the crown, or dress up for some photos with our props and throne!
The Big Lunch at the Leys is a family friendly picnic with entertainment. Windrush Radio will be compering and broadcasting from the event. There is fun, free tennis and refreshments from the Coffee Shed, and children’s fairground rides and food stalls from Hatwell’s funfair.
Morris dancing and both broadcast music and live performances, including an Open Mic opportunity for the brave will take place in our performance area.
Thames Valley Police will be offering Cycle Security marking and generally joining in with the fun.
If you fancy learning a new skill, Witney Vikings will challenge you to the likes of football darts, and the Morris dancers may be looking to involve audiences which sounds amazing – both of these must be worth a video to capture the moment!
There are prizes for the best fancy dress for children AND adults and for those without a costume, plenty of photo opportunities, with our throne, crown cape and life size Charles and Camilla! Another chance to capture the moment.
Bring a picnic or buy some food at the event. We will be keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.
On the evening of Sunday 7th May the Corn Exchange Big Screen will be broadcasting the Coronation Concert from 8pm.
Aside from these weekend events we also have groups and individuals making sustainable cloth bunting to turn the town red, white and blue, we have an amazing window display of Coronation memorabilia being installed and we have schools working on commemorative book projects, so there is lots going on around the town.
Huge thanks go out to all the community groups, schools and individuals contributing to making all these events happen. We are looking forward to seeing lots of social media posts of Coronation memories.
Open the Document and follow links to the desired parish listing