AS people from across the county remember the centenary of the First World War, one Army group is hoping its illustrious past will help it recruit new members.

When war broke out in August 1914, members of the Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) were known as Bugshooters.

This was because of the hours spent on Christ’s Church Meadow drilling with rifles and shooting at nothing but insects.

Some of those are now household names, like JRR Tolkien, TE Lawrence and CS Lewis, who signed up during the First World War.

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Henry Moseley, the inventor of the periodic table, trained in the OTC before deploying to Gallipoli where he was killed in action in 1915.

Olympic 400m runner and medical student Noel Chavasse served in the OTC before he went to war.

One of only three men to be awarded two Victoria Crosses, he was mortally wounded while helping the casualties at the battle of Passchendaele.

Today, students from Oxford University, Oxford Brookes, Reading, Buckingham, Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural University can join.

New members will be welcomed this month with open evenings – tonight and Tuesday, October 14 – and an induction weekend on October 24 to 26.

Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Simon Mason said: “My predecessor, Lt Col J F Stenning, was charged with training the best of Britain’s future for the trenches, an unenviable task.

“Happily, the 250 student Officer Cadets I command today don’t face such prospects.

“By joining the OTC students get the chance to develop leadership skills under the tutelage of instructors from the country’s premiere leadership academy, Sandhurst.

“On top of this, they get paid to take part in adventurous expeditions across the world and play sport at all competitive levels.”

Junior Under Officer Evie Smalley, said: “The OTC is undoubtedly one of the best societies on offer at university. We get to meet people from other universities with different backgrounds in an environment where we are paid to develop, train and have fun.”

The 20-year-old osteopathy student from Oxford Brookes added: “Underlying all of this is the rich tapestry of the OTC history. I think that it is hugely important to remember the sacrifices that our great-grandfathers made during the war.

“This Remembrance Sunday I will be marching on St. Giles with the OTC and I will be enormously proud to be both a student, and in uniform.”

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