Soldiers of Oxfordshire
Yesterday I was delighted to attend the launch of a fascinating new exhibition at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock: ‘Above the Dreaming Spires – Oxfordshire’s Great War Aviation Story.’ The exhibition has been curated by Dr Peter Dye, Air Vice-Marshal (ret’d), OBE, former Director General of the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, and will be open until March 2016.
The exhibition combines original photographs and magnified facsimiles, family and institutional archive material, period and recent printed sources and three-dimensional objects from personal belongings to uniforms and equipment. Many items have been loaned especially for the exhibition by descendants and family members. The county-specific focus means that it’s not solely about those daring young men in their flying machines – we see more of what was going on in wartime aviation in Oxfordshire, such as photos of the airfield on Port Meadow, curriculum notes from the School of Aeronautical Engineering housed at Christ Church in the city of Oxford, and reminiscences of local country people and places by an American airman stationed here. A number of individuals are singled out for their key contributions and for personal stories that help to illustrate the bigger history.
Balliol members Hubert Latham (Balliol 1903) and Hardit Singh Malik (Balliol 1912) both feature prominently in the exhibition, and Balliol contributed digital copies of several photographs of Malik from Francis Urquhart’s photograph albums. Many Balliol men joined the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry – individuals’ wartime careers are sketched in their entries in the Balliol College Register.
For more information about what went on in the colleges and in the city of Oxford during WW1, see Malcolm Graham’s recent book Oxford in the Great War (Pen & Sword, 2014). The Oxfordshire Soldiers’ Museum makes available lots of archive sources, learning resources and publications about the military history of Oxfordshire regiments and military bases and activities in the county.
Dr Dye will be speaking about the exhibition on 2 December at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum.