Rob Forsyth

The WWI Battlefield battlefield grave marker crosses in the church are a moving reminder of the Deddington men who sacrificed their lives in all wars on our behalf. 

Arthur Hancox was the only one of the four Hancox brother (see p.27) to survive the war. His granddaughter, Ruth Quigley, says in a post on the website Returned from the Front * "In 1928 their father went to France with other men from Deddington to look for the graves. They found the crosses of Walter David and Albert Edward but no cross for William Rufus."

*The website contains names on the  Battlefield Crosses in our church together with details of the military actions in which they died.

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Deddington News, 14 April 2002 - Ruth Johnson

The names on the nine old wooden crosses on the North wall of SS Peter & Paul Church are fading fast. Before the inscriptions disappear altogether, and because much interest has recently been shown in the crosses, I decided to consult the writings of the Revd Thomas Boniface, Vicar of Deddington at the time of the First World War, who never failed to record in the Deddington Deanery Magazines the happy news of parishioners returning from the war, but also the sad news of a parishioner’s death in action. Our nine crosses, temporary markers of graves, were probably brought into the Church by relatives of the fallen when the wooden crosses were replace by beautiful grave stones. Sadly only nine have survived. The visitor to the Church may like to read the names inscribed on the crosses and think of the local sons whose simple memorial has survived in the Parish Church. The inscriptions on the crosses read as follows:

'PTE L.FRENCH AUSTRALIA 11th Bn A.IF. Loder French, elder son of Mr & Mrs French enlisted in the Australia infantry while living out there. He was sent with his regiment to the Dardanelles where, after enduring the hardships of that terrible expedition, he contracted enteric fever. He died, after discharge from hospital in Cairo while staying with his parents. He was awarded a military funeral in Deddington Churchyard.

'SPR W.D. HANCOX, RE, died in action on 1st July 1916'. A sapper in the Royal Engineers and the second son of Mr & Mrs David Hancox, he was a bell ringer in the Parish Church and on receipt of the news of his death, the bell which he rang was muffled and tolled. He had been Captain of both the cricket and football clubs.

'SPR A.E.HANCOX RE'. Sapper Edward Hancox, youngest brother of the above was wounded in action on 24th July 1917 and died the same day. He was the third son of Mr & Mrs Hancox to have been killed in the war. Edward’s portrait has been placed with those of his two brothers who, like him were ringers, in the belfry of the Church. (Sadly, the wooden cross of the third brother has not survived in Church. He was W. RUFUS HANCOX who was killed in action on 13th August 1916. He was a Corporal in the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry.)

The name of ALFRED CASTLE is the most difficult to decipher on his old cross. The son of a Clifton family, he died of an illness in a Bristol hospital, aged 33, on 17th November 1918.

'PTE B. WHEELER CANADA died on 18th November 916'. Bernard, son of James Wheeler Jun., was a resident in Canada for several years where he joined the Army and came to England to serve his King and Country. He died in a military hospital in Kent and was buried in Deddington on 23rd November.

'PTE O.A.J.H. DORE TRAINING RESERVE' died on 6th October 1918. He was the only son of Mr & Mrs Dore and had only recently joined up. He died from pneumonia in a hospital on Salisbury Plain.

'PTE F.TUSTAIN, 1st Bn Coldstream Guards'. Guardsman F.Tustain was killed in action on 29th September 1916. His brother. Lance Corporal  M.J.Tustain was killed in July of the same year; his cross has not survived in Church.

'2nd LIEUTENANT R.P. BULL, 1st Bn Northants Regiment'. Ronald Page Bull, killed in action on 1st November 1918 was one of the last local soldiers to die before the end of hostilities. His death was announced in the Deddington Deanery Magazine in December 1918, together with the news of the signing of the Armistice.

[The name of PTD ALFRED ELL, 12th Battalion, The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, is missing from this list. He died from his wounds in hospital in Chichester on 3rd March 1917 age 37]

Nine crosses, nine names, nine destinies on which to reflect next time we pass by.