12 named and 78 unnamed men of the 52nd Lt Infantry.
Broughton Poggs is a little hamlet tagged onto the edge of a larger (but still small) village called Filkins in Oxfordshire. It has only around 10 houses, yet it took us almost 40 minutes in a car to find the church once in Broughton Poggs. And I’m a local! A tricky one to find! Not to be confused with St Peter’s Church in Filkins only a few hundred yards away.
This was an unusual cross, as it commemorates 12 officers/soldiers individually listed, plus another ’78 NCOs and men buried near this spot’, from the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire 52nd Light Infantry. We wonder why these 12 names were chosen to be articulated on the cross over the other 78 servicemen who were only referred to in passing?
The Oxfordshire & Bucks Light Infantry (OBLI) had the nickname ‘The Obbly Gobblies’ derived from the acronym of their full name.
The shape is unusual too, not certain if the wood was carved deliberately into its shape, or whether the wood was already this shape.
St Peter’s Church
Details on cross
The cross is unusual as the centre seems to resemble that of a plaque. At the top, and at either ends of the cross beam, there are wooden diamond shapes. At the top of the vertical shaft, the regimental emblem of the 52nd Light Infantry has been painted in black. This is of a 3 leaf clover with a bugle dangling below, with the number 52 between the bugle’s cords. Underneath this, a painted scroll contains the words IN MEMORY and just underneath this, above the cross beam is the word OF.
The cross beam contains the names of 3 officers:
CAPT J.B. HARDCASTLE
2nd Lt N.S. HARRISON
2nd Lt B.C.C. WARD
The names continue on the widest part of the vertical shaft:
2nd Lt W.I. CHOWN
2nd Lt W.R. GOFFE
2nd Lt R.S.O. MAUL
9505 Sgt MOREBY. W.P.
5746 Cpl COSTER. J.
9288 Cpl RICHARDSON. F.
18523 LCpl CARTER.
11321 LCpl DICKENS
8609 Pte GOODBURN. E.
78 NCOs & men
some of whom are
buried near this spot.
52nd Lt Infantry
On the bottom part of the vertical shaft, the following words are painted in a flowing banner:
Text type: black paint
Shaft Height: 1300mm
Cross Beam Width: 710mm
Width of wood: 100mm (widens to 280mm)
Mounting to wall: Is hanging on 2 bracket arms.
Detailing: Top of shaft, and either end of the cross beam have solid wooden diamond shapes. The edges are bevelled.
Evidence of use in field: The marker is rather weather worn. The top and left-hand diamond shapes are damaged. Could this be a result of battlefield damage, by shrapnel? There are large cracks in the wood emanating from the bottom – possible water damage?
Surface insertion depth: Not obvious.
Finish: Wood stain, now weathered.
Condition: Not good. Evidence of much historic woodworm, large cracks in shaft, weathered, with much text now very faint.
A small typed note (appears to be of same era) in a photo frame rests on the cross beam. It states:
erected in fields near
was brought here for preservation
with the authority and permission
of the Graves Committee
and Officers of the 52nd. Regiment.”
A Roll of Honour on the church wall explains the connection to Broughton Poggs. The connection is through Capt JB Hardcastle.
In the churchyard is a war memorial. The wording is discoloured with lichen, impossible to read visually, only discernible when running your fingers over the raised lettering. The memorial has the following names on it:
Capt John Balfour Hardcastle
Pte William James Clack
Pte George Frederick Hall
Oxford & Bucks
(52nd) Light Infantry
On the opposite side is:
Pte Christopher Augustus Clack
Oxford & Bucks
(43rd) Light Infantry
Pte George Hussey
From the Regimental Museum’s website (www.sofo.org.uk), I have found the servicemen’s full names:
John Balfour Hardcastle
Basil Charles Conroy Warde
William Leonard Chown
William Reginald Goffe
Richard Selby-Lowndes Maul
Walter Percy Moreby
William Ernest Dicken
Edward John Goodburn.
The Oxfordshire & Bucks Light Infantry have their own Facebook page which has over 100 photographs of officers.
Survey and photographs courtesy of Samantha Fryer and Alison Wilken.