IT IS so important to remember because of the great sacrifice that was made, not only by Britain’s troops but those of the Empire as it was then.
They went off to war and willingly went off to their deaths, in many cases because they believed in what they were doing, and no one should take that away from them.
It is a great time to remember in our history how the Empire pulled together to defeat an evil regime.
It is a thing that crosses all divides. We are remembering those people who made a great sacrifice for us and our freedom.
A lot of young men joined the Army because of patriotism, and to be with their mates, and they knew that if they let their mates down on the battlefield they would be dead.
The troops came from estates and factories together and went into the same battalions. The comradeship is still there today but it is perhaps not instilled in the nation in the same way. I think we should be proud of how the Empire pulled together 100 years ago.
My grandfather Henry Miller, known as Harry, joined the Oxfordshire Regiment at 14 and was in the Boer War from 1897 to 1901.
He came out of the Army and then worked as a roadsweeper for the Oxford Corporation before enlisting with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox & Bucks) when war broke out.
In September, 1914, he was promoted to corporal and was made a sergeant in November, 1914.
In September, 1915, he went to Marseilles with the Seventh Battalion and saw service in France and Salonika.
He was invalided out in 1916.
When I went to Macedonia in 2010 with the Royal Green Jackets (the successor regiment to the Ox & Bucks) it was amazing to think that my grandfather had been in the same region before me.
We all know that war is not right, but the sad reality is that it will keep on happening and today is a very important opportunity to remember the fallen from the First World War.
At Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral today, the exact centenary of Britain’s declaration of war in 1914, there will be a special Turning the Pages ceremony. The names will be read out of 10 soldiers from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and of 10 soldiers from the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.
In the military chapel, Afghanistan veteran Corporal David Phillips will recite the names of the men from the Ox & Bucks.
Lance Corporal Louise Edwards, of 142 (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars) Vehicle Squadron of the Royal Logistic Corps, will read out the names of soldiers from the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.
The service will last from 10.45am to 11.30am, before an hour-long vigil starts at 8pm.
I called for a special service on August 4 because I thought it was appropriate to commemorate Britain and the Empire entering the First World War, and the thousands of Oxfordshire soldiers who were killed.
The Royal Green Jackets Association is sponsoring the ceremony but it is part of the cathedral’s own commemoration.
We have tried to pick out names of soldiers from the Second Battalion of the Ox and Bucks who were killed in the Battle of Ypres in 1914.
There are 10 soldiers who died in the battle who have no known graves, which is very sad, but their names are recorded on the Menin Gate memorial in Belgium.
The Battle of Ypres was one of the first big battles where our troops held up the German advance.
People at the time thought the war was going to be another colonial war, like the Boer War, but it was a global war, fought not just in Flanders but also in Italy, the Dardanelles, Mesopotamia and in Africa.
The commanders got a lot of flak and at first did not have a proper idea of how to manage the vast number of troops under their command.
But how they were portrayed in the TV comedy Blackadder was an over-simplification and belittled their efforts to combat Germany’s domination of Europe.
We learned just how costly that could be in 1939, but by 1917 the generals had started to combine artillery, air power and infantry and there were some spectacular victories in the latter stages of the war.
In June, we marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and next year will be the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
We should never forget the sacrifice these generations made for us.
The Ox & Bucks was an unfashionable regiment, but their battle honours were amazing, so we should be proud we had them, then the Royal Green Jackets and then The Rifles as the county regiment.
The names of those who gave their lives for their Country and their Regiment, The Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars.
Pte Norman Francis Sheasby, killed on 1st November 1, 1914, aged 21.
Maj Brian Charles Baskerville Molloy, killed on November 1, 1914, aged 38.
Pte Harold Francis Archer, killed on November 3, 1914, aged 20.
Pte Albert Edwin Horne, killed on November 16, 1914, aged 18.
Pte Frank Bennett Dallow, killed on November 22, 1914, aged 21.
Pte Reginald Frank Nixey, killed on January 21, 1915, aged 22.
Pte Rowland Dickins, killed on February 22, 1915, aged 19.
Pte Albert Woodcock, killed on March 30, 1915, aged 25.
Sgt Charles Frederick Hyde, killed on April 27, 1915, aged 29.
Pte Joseph Edward Batchelor, killed on April 28, 1915, aged 26.
Names being read out of the soldiers from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
Capt Alan Humphrey Harden
Lt Christopher Fowler Murphy
Sjt Arthur Richard Allsworth, aged 21
LCpl William Earnest Dawes, aged 21
Bugler William Edward Green
Pte John Harris, aged 19
Pte Archibald Keeler
Pte Albert Newell
Pte Leonard Rainbow
Pte Henry Tucker, 22
All were killed on October 21, 1914.
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