1st Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was a light infantry regiment of the British Army that existed from 1881 until 1958, serving in the Second Boer War, World War I and World War II.

The regiment was formed as a consequence of the 1881 Childers Reforms, a continuation of the Cardwell Reforms, by the amalgamation of the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) and the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), forming the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry on 1 July 1881. In 1908, as part of the Haldane Reforms, the regiment's title was altered to become the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commonly shortened to the Ox and Bucks and the 4th battalion and the 1st Buckinghamshire battalion were formed, both originally county volunteer units, and they became part of a new Territorial Force, later the Territorial Army (TA).

 

After Dunkirk the 1st Ox and Bucks was brought up to strength with large numbers of conscripts and later transferred to the 148th Independent Brigade Group serving in Northern Ireland. In June 1942, however, the battalion was again transferred, this time to the 71st Infantry Brigade, serving alongside the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment and 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, part of the 42nd Armoured Division. In October 1943 the brigade became part of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division and started training for the invasion of North-Western Europe. The battalion would remain with the 53rd Division for the rest of the war. The 1st Ox and Bucks landed in Normandy on 24 June 1944 with the rest of the 53rd (Welsh) Division. On 25 June Operation Epsom began what was intended to take the town of Caen — a vital objective for the British and Canadians that proved to be a formidable town to capture — it was unsuccessful. However, it did divert significant numbers of Germans away from the American troops. The Germans counter-attacked, the 1st Ox and Bucks moved to positions around the Odon bridgehead where it suffered from heavy German artillery fire. The Allies launched further attempts to capture Caen, the first Allied troops entered the city during Operation Charnwood on 9 July; by then, much of it had been destroyed. After holding the line the 1st Battalion's first major engagement with the enemy during the battle for Caen was the successful attack to capture the village of Cahier and a nearby mill. Fighting around Caen continued for much of the month, with the battalion sustaining significant casualties. The battalion later fought in the Second Battle of the Odon. In August it took part in an advance towards Falaise, known as Operation Totalize. The Allies reached and captured it. The battalion also captured Pierrefitte during the operation to close the Falaise pocket, encircling two German field armies, the Fifth and 7th, the latter of which was effectively destroyed by the Allies. The victory at Falaise signified the end of the Battle for Normandy. The 1st Battalion, Ox and Bucks then took part in the advance east, eventually entering Belgium in early September.

 

The 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, a Territorial unit of the Ox and Bucks, was converted to a Beach Group battalion in March 1943 and was to provide the infantry support for the 6th Beach Group. In April 1943 the battalion moved to Scotland to commence training for its new role. The 1st Bucks formed part of the 6th Beach Group landing on Sword Beach on D-Day, 6 June 1944. An anti-tank platoon of 1st Bucks landed on the first tide of the invasion on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The remainder of 1st Bucks landed on the second tide of the invasion on D-Day. The role of the 1st Bucks was to organise the units on the landing beaches and was also deployed to defend the beachhead area from German counter-attacks as troops from the 3rd British Infantry Division moved inland. The 1st Bucks became part of 101 Beach Sub Area of No 6 Beach Group, 3rd Infantry Division and took part in the defence of Ouistreham in June. Lieutenant Colonel RDR Sale commanded both 1st Bucks and 6th Beach Group. Sale was awarded the George Medal for his role in limiting the damage caused by a German air attack, on an ammunition dump at La Breche, near Ouistreham, on 8 June. In July companies and platoons of 1st Bucks were transferred to other British divisions, including to the 2nd Ox and Bucks (the 52nd) in the 6th Airborne Division and to the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and other units in the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, as replacements for the defence of the Normandy bridgehead. The battalion was later reformed but remained, for the rest of the war, on lines of communication duties. The 1st Bucks was placed into suspended animation in June 1946 and the battalion was finally disbanded on 7 August 1946.

 

Market Garden, the Ardennes offensive and crossing the Rhine

The invasion of the Netherlands began on 17 September; it was known as Operation Market Garden and was a combined land and airborne operation. The 1st Ox and Bucks took part in the ground operation in support of the airborne corridor to Arnhem. The 1st Ox and Bucks led the advance of 71st Infantry Brigade to the Wilhelmina canal where it encountered strong enemy resistance. The ground operation was intended to cross three bridges that had been taken by airborne troops and on into Germany. It would end at the furthest captured bridge at Arnhem (see Battle of Arnhem) – one end of which was taken by 1st Airborne Division, although the operation had clearly ended in failure by 25 September. The 1st Ox and Bucks subsequently took part in operations around the Lower Maas that took place during October and November, including forcing the enemy from its position holding a bridgehead over the River Maas, west of Roermond. Lieutenant Colonel JH Hare, the battalion's Commanding Officer, was killed during the battle for 's-Hertogenbosch on 28 October and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Howard of the 1st Battalion, Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), and a veteran of the East African Campaign and the Western Desert, who was to command the 1st Ox and Bucks for the rest of the war.

 

On 16 December 1944 the Germans launched their last-gasp major offensive of the war in the Ardennes forest that became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 1st Battalion, Ox and Bucks, along with the rest of 53rd (Welsh) Division, was rushed to Belgium shortly afterwards to assist in the defence where the battalion endured terrible weather conditions, some of the worst Belgium had seen in years. The Allies launched a counter-attack in early January and the German offensive was defeated later that month, by which time the 53rd (Welsh) Division had been relieved and returned to the Netherlands soon afterwards in preparation for the invasion of Germany.

In February 1945 the 1st Battalion, Ox and Bucks was involved in the Allied invasion of the German Rhineland, including taking part in Operation Veritable (the Battle of the Reichswald): the five-division assault on the Reichswald Forest, where the battalion was involved in heavy fighting against German paratroopers and armour at the village of Asperberg. During Operation Veritable, 21-year-old Lieutenant Tony Paget, the youngest son of General Sir Bernard Paget, was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Order. The battalion crossed the River Rhine in late March and, attached to 7th Armoured Division, continued its eastwards advance, seeing action at among other places, Ibbenburen in April where it saw heavy fighting against determined German Marines; although the British succeeded in capturing the town. The battalion met fierce enemy resistance at Gross Hauslingen before continuing the advance through Dauelsen, Gyhum and Wehldorf and the 1st Ox and Bucks eventually reached the city of Hamburg – captured on 3 May by British forces – where they remained until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945, Victory in Europe Day.

Name: Abbott, James Donald

Rank: Private

Age 18

No. 14800353

Unit: 

Missing since: 30-03-1945

Next of Kin: Son of James Henry and Beatric Abbott, of Morden Park, Surrey.

Groesbeek Panel: 5

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in the Winterswijk area, and to be buried as one of the 2 unknown soldiers at Winterswijk Cemetery.


Name: Stevens, Stanley Frederick

Rank: Private

Age 19

No. 14704195

Unit: 

Missing since: 30-03-1945

Next of Kin: Son of William and Winifred Mina Stevens, of Exeter.

Groesbeek Panel: 5

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in the Winterswijk area, and to be buried as one of the 2 unknown soldiers at Winterswijk Cemetery.

Name: Adcock, George Frederick

Rank: Private

Age 27

No. 5117076

Unit: 

Missing since: 30-03-1945

Next of Kin: Son of Samuel and Rosina Adcock, of Birmingham.

Groesbeek Panel: 5

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in the Winterswijk area, and to be buried as one of the 2 unknown soldiers at Winterswijk Cemetery.

Name: Bradford, Jim

Rank: Private

Age 25

No. 4862761

Unit: 

Missing since: 30-03-1945

Next of Kin: Son of Mr and Mrs J.H. Bradford, of Heather, Leicestershire.

Groesbeek Panel: 5

KIA Information: Known to have been killed in the Winterswijk area, and to be buried as one of the 2 unknown soldiers at Winterswijk Cemetery.