History group traces village’s fallen soldiers

The Mill Arts Centre
The Mill Arts Centre

Throughout August the Banbury Guardian is revealing some of the fascinating stories uncovered by Banburyshire’s villages about the members of their communities who served in the First World War.

Hornton History Group has conducted extensive research into the ten villagers who lost their lives in the 1914-18 conflict.

John Robbins, William Bacchus, Horace Denton, Thomas Richards, William Cawley, John Cornelius Wells, James Turner, Clarence Bert Gilkes, Emanuel Freeman and William Prickett all gave their lives.

One of the most poignant stories is that of Emanuel Freeman whose nephew Rob and his wife Janet still live in the family home – Linden Cottage on the village green, a house formerly occupied by one of Emanuel’s two sons, Bill Freeman, until his death in 2003.

According to Rob Freeman, Bill had a vague memory of a man in uniform coming to the cottage, which would probably have been Emanuel on leave during WWI.

Coming from a family of eight children, Emanuel was a thatcher by trade and born in nearby Wroxton. He married Ellen Gilkes from Hornton in 1909 and is recorded on Hornton Methodist Chapel’s roll of honour as singing in the village choir.

Emanuel served in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars on the Western Front and was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his bravery.

He was just 33 when he was one of 13 men killed in an artillery attack on the opening night of the Battle of Saint Quentin on March 21, 1918, just eight months before the war ended.

Hornton History Group presented dramatic three-day event to commemorate Britain’s entry into The First World War over the weekend of August 2-4 and 250 visitors to the event got the chance to visit a reconstruction of a trench, eat wartime food and view an exhibition about the ten men who died at the front.

Group Chairman Kevin Wain said: “It was a true community effort that reflected the same spirit of 100 years ago. We wanted to give people just a small idea of the horrors that the soldiers faced and what extreme bravery they showed.

More details can be found at www.hornton-history.co.uk