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100th Anniversary of WWI Armistice

Silent Soldier made from horseshoes by local craftsman
War memorial and silent soldier

Charney Bassett, like most communities, suffered losses in the world wars. Six were killed in the First World War and one in the Second.

Below is a list, with some basic details, of the Charney villagers who gave up their lives for King and Country.

RankNameAgeRegimentLocation of grave or memorialDate of death
PrivateRobert Brant

2 Bn Middlesex RegimentLe Touret memorial.
Pas de Calais.
Panels 31 and 32.
PrivateWilliam George Franklin292 Bn Royal Berkshire Regiment
Charney Bassett Churchyard
PrivateFrederick Franklin195 Bn Royal Berkshire RegimentLoos memorial.
Pas de Calais
Panel 93 to 95

PrivateAlbert John Haines332 Bn Royal Berkshire RegimentThiepval memorial.
Pier and Face 11 D
RiflemanWilliam Oswald Read

18th Bn London Regiment (London Irish Rifles) posted to 9th Bn Royal Irish RiflesYpres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Belgium. Panel 54.
PrivateGeorge Wheeler246th Bn Royal Berkshire RegimentDuhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, Belgium
VIII. G. 10.

TrooperDavid Whiting20'C' Sqn., 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry
Royal Armoured Corps
Bayeux Memorial, Calvados, France
Panel 10, Column 1.

Where they lived

Robert Brant, 162 Glengall Road Willesden; mother and father lived at 25 New Road
Frederick Franklin, 15 High [Main] Street (Cottage at entrance to Byways and Brook Cottage)
William George Franklin, 15 High [Main] Street (Cottage at entrance to Byways and Brook Cottage)
Albert John Haines, 22 New Road
Wilfred Oswald Read, Stoneleigh, High [Main] Street
George Wheeler, Timings, 7 High [Main] Street

The memorials to these soldiers are pictured below.

William George Franklin
William George Franklin
9028 Private
Royal Berkshire Regiment
15th December 1917, Age 29

Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. 

Click to enlarge and scroll. Photos courtesy of Peter Moss.

Albert Haines Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

Village Cross War Memorial

It was decided that a war memorial should be erected in the village using the existing medieval cross. This was controversial at the time as it altered an historic monument. The memorial was ‘unveiled’ in February 1921 and was made by Dennis Godfrey. He made a number of local war memorials, for example Abingdon, Culham and Longworth.

To the Memory of
Charney & Lyford Men
Who gave their lives in
1914  The Great War  1918

R Brant      A Haines
W Franklin      W Read
F Franklin    G Wheeler

N Coe            P Lay
T Brogden      P Miles
G Gilbert       A Woodbridge
F Woodbridge

1939 – 1945 
David Whiting
Service for David Whiting
Service for David Whiting
Service for David Whiting
Service for David Whiting

Left to right: Mr W Cripps, Arthur Whiting (laying the wreath), Rev J W Coles

WWII Memorial North Wall St Peter's Church
WWII Memorial North Wall St Peter’s Church
WW1 Memorial North Wall St Peter's Church
WWI Memorial North Wall St Peter’s Church

Poem by Olive Haines:

When the cruel and awful war was on
And many soldiers had willingly gone
To fight for their King and country as well
Many came home and many fell.

Amongst them all was my Daddy dear
My mother and sisters were left here
And how he cried that awful day
When his King and country called him away

 But out he went so brave and bold
And in some beautiful words are told
That in their dreams they saw at night
Angels of God all clothed in white

 But my Daddy never came back again
And on the stone you can see his name
For the monument is full of all
of those who bravely there did fall.

[Source: The Length of the Road Maud Ody P 85]

Albert Haines
Albert Haines
Albert and Louisa Haines
Albert and Louisa Haines

The people of Longworth and Charney support the war effort

From Charney- George Shorter, George Wheeler, Ernest Franklyn.

CHARNEY: A service of Intercession on behalf of our soldiers and sailors engaged in the war is held each Wednesday at 7pm. The church bell is tolled a few times each day at noon as a call to private prayer on the same behalf. We should remember in our prayers the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, whose work is carried on chiefly in German territory. The sum of 7s. 8d. was collected in Church on Sunday, August 16, towards the Prince of Wales’ National Defence Fund.

Lady Hyde has kindly taken some “Quiet Afternoons” with the Charney mothers, and supplied them with material for making clothing for the soldiers and sailors.

Longworth parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

An earnest appeal to young men in Charney

A very interesting and instructive Lecture on the War, illustrated with lantern pictures, was given in the Schoolroom on Thursday, December 10, at 8pm by Captain F. C. Loder Symonds. The pictures were shown by Dr Woodward. There was a large audience. The lecturer made an earnest appeal to Charney young men to come forward and join Lord Kitchener’s Army.

Longworth parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P83/28A/10)

Charney Sees New Recruits

James Douglas (Territorial Reserves), Albert John Haines (Territorial Reserves) and William Sergeant (Army Service Corps) are among those who have recently joined the Army. Our prayers and good wishes go with them.

Longworth parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/4)

Remember them in our prayers

CHARNEY: There is a service of intercession and prayer on behalf of our soldiers and sailors each Thursday evening at 7 o’clock. Seven of the Charney soldiers are in the Expeditionary Force, of whom four are in the fighting line, one in the Veterinary Corps, one in the Army Service Corps, and one has been invalided home wounded. Of the others, one is in the Canadian Army for Home Defence, and the rest are in England training. May we remember them in our prayers.

Longworth parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/10)

CHARNEY: William C Whitfield has joined the Territorial Reserves; Ernest C Franklin has been invalided home. We shall remember them both in our intercessions.

Longworth parish magazine, May 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/5)

The school girls have worked a number of socks, mittens, cuffs and scarves for the benefit of the sailors on board H.M.S. Antrim which is in the North Sea. The school children have also subscribed the sum of 10s towards the Belgian Relief Fund.

Longworth parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/1)

Thinking of our soldiers in the trenches on Christmas Day

Charney Bassett: The Services on Christmas Day will be a Holy Communion at 8:30am; Morning Prayer and Holy Communion at 11, and Evensong, with Sermon and Carols at 6pm. May Christmas be a happy one to all. It cannot be a very merry one this year, when we shall be thinking of our soldiers spending Christmas Day, it may be, in the trenches.

Longworth parish magazine, December 1914 (D/EX725/3)


The WWI Allied Victory Medal awarded to Private A J Haines.

[courtesy of Ruth Gerring]

A Bronze victory medal (also known as ‘Wilfred’), the ribbon originally attached would have been a double rainbow with red at the centre. The colours represent the combined colours of the Allied nations, with the rainbow additionally representing the calm after the storm.

The British version was designed by W. McMillan and depicts the winged figure of Victory on the front of the medal and on the back ‘The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1919’.

To qualify, an individual had to have entered a theatre of war (an area of active fighting), not just served overseas. Their service number, rank, name and unit were impressed on the rim.

Approximately 5.7 million Victory Medals were issued.

Frederick, William, Ernest and Henry Franklin

Frederick and William Franklin were brothers, and two of eight children born to John Franklin (Great Grandson of the protestant dissenter William Franklin, mentioned in the Methodist Chapel page), and his wife Charlotte. John himself had only died in February 1911.

Frederick was, according to the Longworth parish magazine, ‘the first Charney man to join Lord Kitchener’s New Army’. In January 1916 the magazine commented ‘We are sorry to have to think that Private Frederick Franklin, Royal Berks., lost his life at the Front some weeks ago, although the War Office at present has only notified that he is missing. We feel much sympathy for the mother in her long anxiety about her son, but can only think that he is one of those who have so bravely and nobly laid down their lives for King and Country.’ In December 1916 an amount of £4.8s.7d. was paid as a war gratuity to his mother Charlotte A Barnes (remarried), with a further £4 paid in 1919.

William was already an experienced soldier by the time war broke out; the 1911 census recorded him serving in Chakrata, India, as a private in the 2nd Battalion Royal Berks. Having been gassed in France in December 1917, he passed away on the 15th, in a ward of the Third Southern General Hospital based at New College, Oxford and is buried in St Peter’s Churchyard [see photo of war grave above]. The Third Southern had been established across a number of city hospitals and other large facilities for the duration of the war. His cause of death was certified as (i) oedema of the lungs – 8 days, and (ii) valvular disease of the heart. Oedema of the lungs was a typical symptom of having been exposed to chlorine or phosgene gas. In May 1918 war gratuities of £2.11s.8d. were paid to each of his mother Charlotte A Barnes (remarried); and siblings Henry, Rose, Annie and Caroline. A further amount of £19.10s. was paid to Charlotte in December 1919.

A third brother, Ernest Charles, had also enlisted in 1911, serving in the 4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. The Longworth parish magazine reported in May 1915 that Ernest had been invalided home; happily he recovered and survived the war.

A fourth brother, Henry Thomas enlisted into the Royal Navy in December 1916 for the duration of hostilities. After briefly training as a stoker at ‘HMS Vivid II’ (the Stokers and Artificers Training School), Henry served on HMS Tiger, at the time the most heavily armoured battlecruiser in the RN, seeing action at the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight during 1917.  After the war, Henry settled back into life in Charney Bassett and remained there until his death in 1959.

On the whole a family who certainly did their bit for the war effort!

The quotes are courtesy of the ‘berkshirevoiceswwi’ website and text by Darren Franklin.

These images of ‘War or Death Pennies’ are courtesy of David Miles. For more information on these plaques click here.

List of Names for World War I, found in a book in St Peter’s Church

Charney Roll of Honour

George Wm Bird
Wilfred Hammond [33 New Road]
Ernest Frederick Wheeler [Timings, 7 High [Main] Street]
William Joseph Roberts [Mount Pleasant (Bear) Cottage, Longworth Road]
William Joseph Pinnell [Rectory Farm, High Street]
Sidney Baden Belcher [Goosey Green, Goosey]
Herbert Charles Brant [parents lived at 25 New Road]
Joseph Edward Brant [162 Glengall Rd Willesden, parents lived at 25 New Road]
Charles Harold Brant [162 Glengall Rd Willesden, parents lived at 25 New Road]

[also not on this list: Robert Brant, 162 Glengall Road Willesden; mother and father lived at 25 New Road]

The Prayers of the Congregation are desired for our Soldiers and Sailors and Airmen, and those of our Allies now engaged in War, especially for those belonging to this Parish:-

George Froude Shorter [Green Farm, The Green]
George Wheeler [Timings, 7 High [Main] Street]
William Cleophe Whitfield [Bridle Cottage, Bridle Path]
William Franklin [15 High Street]
Frederick Charles Franklin [15 High Street]
Ernest Franklin [15 High Street]
Thomas Franklin [15 High Street]
James Douglas [Byways Cottage]
Albert John Haines [23 New Road]
William Charles Douglas [Wick Cottage]
Frederick Read [Parents lived at Stoneleigh, High Street]
Philip Read [Parents lived at Stoneleigh, High Street]
Wilfred Read [Stoneleigh, High Street]
Edgar Alfred Read [Stoneleigh, High Street]
Alfred Hodgkins [Hazeldene, Chapel Lane]

Albert Edward Midwinter [Willow Cottage, The Green]
Alfred Attewell
Edward Tomlin
George Windsor [The White House, The Green]
William Sargent
Stanley Belcher [26 or 24 New Road]
Gurth Atkinson [32 New Road]
Samuel Everett Staines [32 New Road]
Nurse Thyra  Staines [32 New Road]
Sidney Frank Sheppard [Parents lived at The Chequers]
Philip Sheppard [Parents lived at The Chequers]
William John Cox [The Cottage on the Green]
John Pinnnell [Rectory Farm, High Street]
Edward Hammond [33 New Road]
John S Chance
Henry Green [Buckland and later New Road]
Arthur Henry Green [Buckland and later New Road]
Herbert George Green [Buckland and later New Road]
Joseph Albert Green [Buckland and later New Road]
William Robins [Little Woodhill, East Challow]

Stanley Belcher

Stanley Belcher [26 or 24 New Road]

Sergeant George F Shorter

Sgt. George F Shorter , Royal Berks Regt, Charney, near Wantage… Awarded Military Medal

Green Farm, The Green, Charney Bassett

The Military Medal (or MM) was a medal awarded for exceptional bravery. It was awarded to the Other Ranks (N.C.O.’s and Men) and was first instituted in 25 March 1916 during The First World War, to recognise bravery in battle. The Military Medal was the equivalent to the Military Cross (MC) which was awarded to commissioned officers. 

G F Shorter
1/4th Battalion, R Berks R (TF)
0137/2909  46750

List of those from Charney who served in World War II

Bill Clarke
Richard Hobson
Roy Hodgkins
Jack Cripps
Harold Haines
Sydney Pendell

Victor Hodgkins
Stan Hodgkins
Gordon Hodgkins
Ron Cripps
David Whiting
Bid Cox
Josiah Ody
Cyril Perevill

Richard Axford
Frank Cox
William Percy James Miles

Cyril Head
John Pay
Frank Pay
George Mills

Home Guard
Joseph Thompson
John Bright

Vic Hodgkins – Royal Engineers

Photos courtesy of Rachel Townsend-Green (Née Hodgkins)

Victor Alfred Hodgkins was born at Charney Bassett in 1919 and went to Charney School at 5 years old. He left school at 14 in 1933 becoming an apprentice carpenter and then a joiner. In 1940 he was called up to fight in the the war and joined the Royal Engineers. After training in the UK he headed to Malta, Sicily, North Africa and landed in Italy advancing northwards with the allies.

Returning to Charney after the war he (re)established the Parish Council and worked at bettering the infrastructure and services in Charney and the Faringdon district. He Chaired the Parish Council for many years.

John Luker

John Luker, as a young man joined the Royal Navy, at a time of unemployment. During World War 2, in part of which he was on loan to the Australian navy, he served in both the Far East and the Atlantic. He was torpedoed, three times, once in a Norwegian fjord and twice in the Far East, when he had to swim ashore in shark infested waters off Borneo.

After the war John eventually owned his own garage in Charney Bassett; later adding to it a village shop and a Post Office. [Dr.R.Holland, CBE. – From Dot Ackland’s Scrapbook]

John Luker [Photo courtesy of Alistair Luker]

William Percy James Miles

William Percy James Miles lived at number 2, The Green, Charney Bassett. He joined the Royal Marines in 1943, 83 days underage, seeing action on D day on Sword beach and thereafter in France. He received thanks and congratulations, in a letter from Lieut AGW Wilks, for his part on board F38 (a landing craft converted for use as an anti aircraft flak platform) during the successful invasion at Westkapelle, Walcheren Island (1 Nov 1944) as part of Operation Infatuate. You can read the letter by clicking here. He survived the war. He is buried in St.Peter’s churchyard next to his uncle, William Franklin who fell victim to gas in the first war.

His parents were William Henry Miles and Rose Mary Miles, neé Franklin, (from 15, Main Road, Charney). He had three siblings, Winifred, who married an American airmen and emigrated to Illinois, Cisely, who married Richard Axford and lived in the thatched cottage opposite the Chequers (Cottage on the Green), then in the mill house opposite the church and latterly at the top of New Road by the school and, Irene, who married Henry Cox, (known locally as Pogue), who farmed at Northfield Farm. I (David Miles) was born in 1951 and spent many happy years of my childhood around the Charney area. We lived at East Challow. Also at 2, The Green, when I was a child, there was a man who everyone called ‘clocky’ he was Thomas Franklin who was Rose Miles’ Brother. [David William Miles – son]

William Percy James Miles

A photo of a group of uniformed men, William Miles is in the sidecar. The group may be Charney Bassett home guard, perhaps someone can identify who they are and where the photo was taken?

Welcome Home
Welcome Home

Rationing WWI

Maud Thompson Ration Book (courtesy of Joe Ody). Click to enlarge and scroll:


image013 Mortar Spigot

image015 Machine gun loop-hole

WWII: War on Land

Evidence of the 2nd World War includes the spigot mortar base near the church wall and a machine gun loop in a hole in the wall of Charney Manor garden. A mortar is a device that fires projectiles at low velocities and short ranges.

The machine gun loop is for allowing a machine gun to have a certain area of fire from a protected site. It would appear that both these sites were for the protection of the bridge over the River Ock.

The following is an extract, p59, from the Oxfordshire volume of a book entitled ’20th Century Defences in Britain’ by Mike Osborne: ‘The simplest of all defences were loopholes. These could be inserted into standing walls … and were easily camouflaged with vegetation … at Charney Bassett a loophole commands the bridge over the River Ock, with a spigot mortar pedestal in front of the churchyard wall’.

Manor Farm World War II recollections – John Hobson: At Manor Farm there was a ‘hole in the high wall in the kitchen garden through which the Home Guard would be able to shoot the Germans (as soon as they had rifles to replace their pitchforks)’ … ‘similarly the tree trunks alongside the road junctions to stop the advancing German tanks may not have filled [my parents] with confidence. Removing the signposts may have inconvenienced the Panzer Divisions I suppose. It didn’t matter to us. We all knew the way to Buckland even if we seldom went there.

WWII: War in the air

There was a small airfield at Bush Barn, near Cherbury Camp, which was used by the RAF (as 44 SLG, Satellite Landing Ground, from 1941) and the Royal Naval Air Service (an outstation to RNAS Worthy Down ‘HMS Kestrel’ as reserve aircraft storage for obsolescent types from 15 July 1944) from 1941 to 1945, but very little flying took place. The airfield was reduced to Care and Maintenance in 1945. There are a number of buildings still in existence but are in very poor condition; in 2018 several were being demolished.

Location and approximate layout
Airfield buildings in 2018 prior to demolition
Airfield buildings in 2018 prior to demolition

Trevor Hancock notes that ‘The book Military Airfields’ by Steve Willis et al. refers to it as just an aircraft storage base with virtually no facilities. From this and ‘The Military Airfields of Britain – Northern Home Counties by Ken Delve and from information provided by Robin J Brooks (author of airfields in The Second World War) it is noted that although it had three grass runways it saw very little use. The base runways were coded as QDM263 880yds, QDM281 1130yds and QDM341 980yds (QDM = Magnetic heading to the airfield) also given as runway dimensions:- 08/26 – 804yds, 10/28 (the longest) 1033yds and 18/34 – 896yds. The O/S Reference for Bush Barn is given as SU360962 (presumably at the centre). The airfield had no permanent control although the tower at Kingston Bagpuize often handled traffic intended for Bush Barn. Searching Discovery (the National Archives online catalogue) gives an entry for the Operational Record Book (ie war diary) for No 5 Maintenance Unit RAF (REF: AIR29/962) which had detachments at Kemble, Beechwood, Barnsley Park and Bush Barn. It’s not online so one has to go to Kew to view.

Bush Barn

Other local airfields surrounding Charney Bassett were at Shellingford, Kingston Bagpuize and Grove.

Tiger Moth at Shellingford Airfield William Miles (right), Robert Ayres (Stepfather of Richard Rowe) (left)

A Mk1 Avro Lancaster bomber crashed 200 yards south of Lyford church on 8th April 1945. The aircraft, HK788 of No. 9 Squadron RAF based at Bardney in Lincolnshire, had taken part in a raid on a benzole factory in Molbis, Germany. On its return flight the plane caught fire and crashed. The severity of the subsequent explosion (confirming that the plane was still fully laden with its bombs) blew out some windows in Charney Bassett. All seven aircrew were killed. Six were members of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. The seventh was a warrant officer from the Royal Canadian Air Force. All are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves section of Botley Cemetery on the outskirts of Oxford. In October 2008 the widow of one of the crew provided a plaque commemorating the seven dead. It was installed in St Mary the Virgin parish church, where the actor Richard Briers attended the ceremony and read Noël Coward’s poem Lie in the Dark and Listen.

In the Berkshire Records Office Guide to World War Two Records there is a document under ‘Bombing Raids’ cited as ‘Charney Bassett: Memorandum on damage to church, 1939-1945.’ Ref D/P83B/5/1. This is the account book of the church from 1765 until 1945. The memorandum reads: ‘Large window in south wall badly damaged and several panes of glass broken in other windows by the explosion of one of our Lancaster bombers which crashed with a full bomb load south of Lyford Church at 2.15AM April 8th (Sunday). Many windows blown out and ceilings brought down in the village‘. This is the last entry in the book and comes under a heading of 1945. On the same page, above, in payments is given ‘Repairs, renewing lintel of large window in south wall. 26 pounds‘, it is not clear whether or not this relates to the explosion damage.

Manor Farm World War II recollections – John Hobson: One returning enemy plane [from night bombing of Coventry] jettisoned its two unused bombs onto ‘The Strip’ but they did not explode. The bomb disposal unit came later and blew them up, having first told us to leave our windows open so that the blast wouldn’t break the glass.
One day towards the end of the war the skies over the farm were filled with hundreds of Dakotas towing gliders on their way to Arnhem.

Nearby, German bombs fell at Hatford. The old village off-licence received a direct hit in September 1940 killing three children (one local and two evacuees).

Evacuees in WWII

A family, Billings, was evacuated from Lewisham in London to No14 Charney, now Brook Cottage. Their story is given in Charney Life > Memories.

Manor Farm World War II recollections – John Hobson: ‘Although no school-age evacuees were billeted with us, some of them would come down to the farm to ‘help’ or just watch the work. Watching the milking was always popular. They were far more worldly-wise than we village kids and half the time I didn’t really know what they were talking about although I pretended to. Adult evacuees were Mum’s preference. They included RAF officers’ families, some who were escaping the London bombing, and finally the Wallbridges. They had been missionaries in China before the war.’

Census 1939: At  Llanrealth on the Longworth Road (house of William and Florence Cripps) Adelaide W M Bearman (Noyce), DoB 16 Jan 1905, Unpaid domestic duties (New full-time helper with evacuated Children).


Manor Farm World War II recollections – John Hobson: As far as Manor Farm was concerned it was our Italian prisoner of war who was the most significant wartime character. His name was Giancarli Francesco ( surname first) – simplified as ‘Frank’. He was the son of a farmer in Giòia di Marsi, in central Italy. At first the POWs were delivered each morning by lorry from the camp at East Challow. Later though Frank and his friend Fortunato (‘Lucky’) were ‘housed’ in the loft over the dairy building – ever since known as ‘up Italy!’ The POWs got together whenever allowed and played football in the Meadacre.

Food Production

Glasgow Herald 18 June 1944
Glasgow Herald 18 June 1944
Glasgow Herald 18 June 1944
Glasgow Herald 18 June 1944
Reading Standard Friday 3 Sept 1943 Victory Churn Contest

Reading Standard – Friday 03 September 1943

VICTORY CHURN CONTEST CERTIFICATES OF MERIT FOR BERKSHIRE FARMERS The under-mentioned farmers In Berkshire have been awarded certificates of merit in connection with the Victory Churn contest launched by the Minister of Agriculture in June of last year as an incentive to the increased production milk, especially winter milk. Increased production of 20 per cent. and over: ‘Mr. F. C. Akers. Manor Farm, Charney Bassett, Wantage….

Victory Churn Contest - Poplars Farm
Victory Churn Contest – Poplars Farm

Defence Regulations Direction

This is a Defence Regulation Direction to George Bungay on 20th December 1939, to bring the land at Minmere Barn into arable cultivation. [From Ruth Gerring]

Defence Regulation Minmere Barn
Defence Regulation Minmere Barn

Conscientious Objectors and The Peace Movement; Rectory Farm

Between the two world wars there was a considerable pacifist movement in Britain.

One such was the No More War Movement and Peace Pledge Union in GB, 1929-1940. 

Cyril Frederick Wright was a member of this movement and together with a number of other people, including John Chapman, set up a specific group called:  Kingston Community in Charney Bassett and Barn House Community in Wye Valley.

The Group looked for a farm to purchase to set up a peaceful and neighbourly community and after a search purchased Rectory Farm in Charney Bassett in 1940. 

The Imperial War Museum has an audio record of an interview with Cyril Frederick Wright. There are eight reels and reel 5 has the most about Charney Bassett.

Extracts of a transcript of the oral history (with apologies for any errors):

Reel 5 starting at 9:10

The year is 1940

another one [Farm for Sale] which I heard about I think by seeing and advertisement in a window in an estate agent, and this was at Charney Bassett, a little village about 6 miles from Wantage in the Vale of the White Horse. And that was going with, we could have had 60 acres for £1900 or 20 acres I think for £1250 was the offer … + 3 acres and a house, a very large house right in the centre of the village it was the second largest in the village an old house dating back to the time of the civil war 1643, a very interesting old place and we rather decided on that one if we could get it.

The farmer would not budge on price and John Chapman and I and two others went to see him one evening … at any rate we just accepted it and I think it was quite a bargain really. And so we accepted.

John Chapman, Bill Hammond, Nora and Myself and the two Children, Raymond Andrews and May Cudberg [?] who was the daughter of the solicitor who was helping us. 6 Adults and two children. And we felt that we could accommodate them in the building and the land carefully cultivated ought to yield enough to keep us going and make a profit.

Reel 5 from 24:00

John Chapman for instance who was …. In a sense from the outset we regarded him as a sort of leader as someone had to direct conversations and someone to turn to for what to do next and he assumed that he would be in charge generally.

We decided that we would cultivate the 20 acres which was quite a bit of land to cultivate and at that time we only had ourselves and spades and so on so [we] acquired a rotor-till and then an iron horse and bought a horse and few implements.

So to start with most came from the 3 acres around the house with the orchard of 100 apple trees and two large areas that had been used for keeping stock …. Mostly used for potatoes. Opened a stall in Wantage.

There again John Chapman had the car you see. He was the supplier of most of the capital and a certain amount of equipment. And he had a large trailer that we used to take produce into market in Wantage and sold out very very quickly.

Brussel sprouts and cabbages.

1941 sold some in London and some wholesale in Oxford and Abingdon.

The first year was very successful financially. But that of course was not the whole story.

Reel 6.

We bought a circus horse over at Wantage and it was not very amenable.

Exchanged it for another pony.

A field half a mile up the road.

Collect people from the station 2.5miles away

John Chapman’s job was looking after the cow.

Bill Hammond was a carpenter and made an attic in to a bedroom. (He left the community and died of cancer)

Musical evenings and then involved the village people, we had very good relations with people in village and they quite welcomed us.

A poster on our gate about war weapons and we had a very long serious meeting and we found that this had always been a place for posters in the village

We also sold some of their produce to the market.

Lay preacher Mr Batts, about 84, he came along with his wife.

We linked up with the air raid warning.

We were lucky really as we might have faced quite a lot of hostility and it was an experiment in neighbourliness.

Notes on postcards re tribunal:

Rectory Farm, in the heart of our small village, was bought and used by the ‘Kingston Community in Charney Basset[t] and Barn House Community in Wye Valley’. A descendant of a subsequent owner has found and passed on some correspondence sent to John Chapman – a member of that community and mentioned in the interviews as the ‘leader’ and also probably the supplier of much of the money. One postcard was written to him at Rectory Farm ahead of his tribunal and wishing him well another is written to him at his tribunal addressed to ‘ John Chapman, appearing before C O [Conscientious Objector] Tribunal, 10:45 am Sat, Masonic Hall, Greyfriars Road, Reading, Berks’. The post mark is dated 18 May 1944 (I think) which would make the tribunal Sat 20 May 1944.

From The National Archives
Records of British conscientious objectors are varied and incomplete. Few records of conscientious objectors survive, especially after 1921. Those which do survive are generally samples.

The Military Service Act of 1916 introduced compulsory conscription to Great Britain for the first time in modern history. Before this act, the armed forces were generally made up of volunteers.

While conscientious objection was not specifically defined in the act of 1916, the government recognised those whose ‘objection genuinely rests on religious or moral convictions’.

Only a small number of conscientious objectors were exempted from service absolutely. Most were obliged to serve in non-combatant roles or faced courts martial.