Oswald Blencowe

2nd Lt Oswald Blencowe

Oswald BlencoweOswald was born in 1890, the youngest son of the Rev. Charles Blencowe of Banbury. He came to the Dragon as a day boy in 1902 for a brief while before going on to St. Edward’s School, Oxford, where he was Captain of the Cricket XI and Football XV for two years. He was also a Senior School Prefect and was a good musician and singer.

He became a Sergeant in the Royal Fusiliers and in 1916 got his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry. He was killed on the 7th October 1916 at Guedécourt, France, when temporarily attached to the Rifle Brigade.

Colonel A. C. Martin writes: ‘He was my platoon sergeant all last winter on the La Bassée front… I had great admiration for his qualities and imperturbable character. All the officers of ‘D’ Company loved my Sergeant Blencowe. I shall never forget the picture of him after an hour’s heavy bombardment of the piece of line his Platoon was holding. I went along to see what casualties and what damage had been caused and ran up against him looking the picture of robust health, unshaven (we had been in four days), and smoking an old pipe. He was so unexcited that he went on detailing a fatigue party or ration party without a word of comment although shells were still falling within 100 yards. He was always working loyally and most unselfishly for the comfort of the men and to help me.’

A brother officer writes: ‘I am not writing in any official sense., but to express my admiration and appreciation for Blencowe. In the line he was of immense value to us and in the most trying hours, when things were as bad as shells and foul weather could make them, he showed that rare kind of cheerfulness which does not offend by its bumptiousness, nor depress by its artificiality. His spirits and efficiency were amazing. He set a high value on music and poetry. He sang well, and was strongly heard in the dug-out – carols, songs, choruses, old English songs, and Gilbert and Sullivan. One day we had returned from the trenches and gone back into a line of dug-outs. He pulled out the books he always carried with him, Omar Khayyam, and two volumes of the hundred best poems, and three of us lay awake, much longer than we could afford, reading aloud to one another. I know he was killed instantaneously. He was hit by a shell in the head when in front of his men, about ten yards from the enemy’s line.’

A letter sent by Lt Blencowe from the front to his mother can be found here. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France.


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