Little Rissington is a village in the east of Gloucestershire, England. It sits between Kingham and Bourton-on-the-Water, and is amongst a number of other "hidden" villages in the area. Little Rissington is a village in the east of Gloucestershire, England. It sits between Kingham and Bourton-on-the-Water, and is amongst a number of other "hidden" villages in the area. St Peter's Church contains many Commonwealth war graves, including 55 from World War Two, see http://www.chippingnortonbritishlegion.com

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FIRST WORLD WAR

ERNEST FRANK APPLEBY was serving as a Guardsman with the 2nd Battalion, The Grenadier Guards when he died of his wounds on 12th April 1916. He was aged 22 and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

He was the won of William and Sarah Appleby, of Guildenford, Burford and had worked as an under gamekeeper on an estate at Notgrove.

He enlisted into the Grenadier Guards just after the outbreak of war, in September 1914, in Camberley, Surrey.  He joined the 2nd Battalion in  France in January 1915, as part of the 4th Guards Brigade. On 30th January 1915 they were sent up to help repel a German attack along the La Bassee Canal in Cuinchy.  On 15th May they were involved in the Battle of Festubert and on 26th September the Battle of Loos.

On 11th April 1916 the Battalion left their billets in Ypres and marched out past the Menin Gate to relieve the 2nd Battalion the Irish Guards in the front line on the Menin Road. On the following day, described in the Battalion diary as a "very quiet day", Guardsman Appleby was wounded, probably by a sniper, and died later in a Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek.

LEONARD GEORGE LAKE was serving as a Private with the 8th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment when he died of his wounds on the 7th April 1917. He was aged 23 and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

He was the son of William Frederick and Rose Lake of Little Rissington, before enlisting he had worked as a garndener, lodging in Stow on the Wold. he joined the 8th Gloucesters, one of Kitchener's new armies in Cheltenham in late 1914.

He arrived with the Battalion in France on 18th July 1915, under command of 57th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division. They were in action in the Battle of Loos from 26th September 1915. They saw action in Battle of Albert on 1st July 1916, the opening phase of the Somme Offensive, in which their Division captured La Boiselles. They went on fighting through the rest of the campaign at High wood, Pozieres and Ancre.

He was wounded in action in the Ypres area in 1917 and evacuated to hospital in Boulogne where he died.

ALDERMAN JUSTICE LANE was serving as a Private with "D" Company, the 2nd Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed in action on 8th April 1915 during the action at St Eloi. He was aged  23 and is commemorated on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial, having no known grave.

He was the son of Charles and Hannah Lane of Little Rissington. He arrived in France on 25th March 1915, joining the 2nd Gloucesters in the field where they were under the command of the 27th Division. On 7th april the Battalion were in Ypres before taking up positions at Herenthage Chateau and Private Lane was killed the following day by a shell which hit his trench.

His elder brother William was to die in 1916, see below.

WILLIAM CHARLES LANE  was serving as a Private in the 7th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed in action on 21st April 1916. He was aged 26 and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, having no known grave.

He was the son of Charles and Hannah Lane of Little Rissington and before enlisting had worked as a farm labourer.

He enlisted into the Gloucesters in Bourton-on-the-Water and joined the 7th in Gallipoli on 14th November 1915, under command of 39th Brigade in 13th (Western) Division. He served with them in Suvla Bay until they were evacuated on 19th December 1915. After a brief rest they were moved to the Helles Bridgehead where they fought against the the last Turkish attacks at Helles, 7th January 1916. They were then evacuated to Eygpt where they took part in the defence of the Suez Canal. From February 1916 they were moved to Mesopotamia, joining a force being assembled to relieve the Siege of Kut-Al-Amara. From 5th April 1916 they took part in the Third attempt to lift the siege. Supporting the 3rd Lahore Division they attacked and captured Isa on the south bank of the Tigris on 17th April. However a strong Turkish force counter-attacked forced them back and threatened to overrun British lines.  Private Lane was killed during this action.

LOUIS St. GRATIEN LE MARCHANT DSO was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 1st Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment when he killed in action on 14th September 1914. He was aged 47 and is buried in Perreuse Chateau British Franco Cemetery, Signy Pereuse, a hamlet of Signy-Signets.

He was born in Little Rissington to parents the Reverend Robert Le Marchant, rector of Little Rissington church and his wife Eliza. He was educated at Somerset College  and joined the Gloucsreshire Militia. He was gazetted as a Lieutenant in the East Lancashire Regiment in November 1886. He was promoted Captain in December 1895, serving in the Chitral Relief Force in India and becoming Adjutant for the 1st Battlalion. He served in the South African War between 1900 and 1902 seeing action at Karree Sidings, Vet River, operations at Transvaal, Johannesburg and the Orange River Colony and being awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and being twice mentioned in despatches. He was promoted Brigade Major whilst serving in India in April 1906. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in September 1913 and commanded the 1st Battalion. He arrived in France with his Battalion on 23rd August 1914, under the command of the 4th Division.

By nightfall of the 25th August 1914 the retreating British II Corps was being closely pursued by the German First Army, after the Battle of Mons. I Corps was some way away to the east, and although the newly-arrived 4th Division was moving up alongside II Corps it was clear that the disorganised and greatly fatigued units faced a calamity the next day if the withdrawal was forced to continue. Corps Commander Horace Smith-Dorrien ordered II Corps to stand and fight. The units of the Corps were arranged in the open downs to the west of the small town of Le Cateau. For long hours during the morning of 26th August, the British force, notably the field artillery, held overwhelming numbers of the enemy at bay. British tactics were similar to those at Mons. The infantry produced intensive and accurate rifle fire, while the field artillery fired air-bursting shrapnel rounds on the unprotected advancing enemy infantry. Many field guns were fired at point-blank range over open sights. For the second time in three days, the British force engaged withdrew just in time. Miraculously, the exhausted II Corps disengaged and withdrew towards the south during the afternoon. Smith-Dorrien’s decision to turn II Corps around from retreat and to stand against the German advance at Le Cateau paid off handsomely. Heavy casualties were inflicted on the Germans.

The German advance was halted on the south east outskirts of Paris in the Battle of the Marne from 7th September 1914. The British and French then went on the offensive and the 1st Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment were involved in the capture of the town of La Ferte Sous-Jouare. Lt-Col Le Marchant had gone forward to encourage a party of men who were in action in the loft of one of the houses in the town. As he reached the loft he passed a small window and was struck in the neck by a sniper's bullet, dying instantly. He was mentioned in Field Marshal Sir John French's despatch of 8th October 1914.

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MARK WEBLEY was serving as a Lance Corporal with the 8th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed in action on 30th July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. He was aged 24 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, having no known grave.

He was born in Little Rissington to parents Frederick and Rhoda Webley and had worked as a farm labourer. He enlisted into the Gloucesters in Stow on the Wold and joined the 8th Battalion in France on 4th August 1915. Under the command of the 57th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division they saw action during the Battle of Albert from 1st July 1916, the opening action of the Somme Offensive, where the Division captured La Boiselle. From 16th July they were involved in the attacks on High Wood, trying to dislodge the Germans from a strategic high ground. On 30th July they were in the French village of Bazentin-Le-Petit and launched an attack on German intermediary lines at 1810. The attack was held up by heavy machine gun and sniper fire and the Battalion was forced to return to its original position sustaining 166 casualties, dead, missing or wounded.

FATAL CRASHES AT RAF LITTLE RISSINGTON

27th March 1944: Airspeed Oxford N6403  of 271 Squadron had been diverted to Little Rissington from RAF Down Ampney because of fog. On the approach to Little Rissington it struck a store building and crashed, killing all three aboard.  They were;

Flight Lieutenant LOUIS CECIL SHANNON, Navigator, Royal Canadian Air Force, aged 29. He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. He was the son of Cecil Holbert Shannon and Rosamonde Beatrice Shannon, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and husband to Lilian Agnes Shannon, of Winnipeg.

Flight Sergeant BERNARD HENRY DORN, Observer, Royal Air Force, aged 34. He is buried in welwyn Garden City Hatfielf Hyde Burial Ground. He was the son of Carl Laurits Dorn and Edith Mary Dorn and husband to Cecilia Agnes Dorn, of Seven Kings, Essex.

Sergeant GEORGE WALTER JOSEPH REYNOLDS, Pilot, Royal Air Force, aged 23. He is buried in Greenford Park Cemetery. He was the son of Sidney and Alice Emily Reynolds, of Hanwell.

13th July 1944: Vickers Wellington Z1690 took off from Little Rissington, lost height and crashed into a field at Glebe Farm, Great Rissington.

The pilot, Flight Captain Eleanor Isabella Slade, known as Susan, of 5 Ferry Pool, the Air Transport Auxillary was killed in the crash. She was aged 40 and is buried in Saints Peter and Paul Churchyard in Stokenchurch.

Susan Slade was born in Hong Kong to parents  Marcus Warre Slade and Josephine Isabella Slade. She gained her Royal Aero Club Aviator's certificate on 16th September 1928 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Aero Club, flying a De Havilland 60 Cirrus Moth, pictured below along with Susan Slade's certificate photo.

She had worked for Airwork at Heston from Febuary 1929 to June 1940, where her duties entailed the management of the Airport Hotel and Restaurant at Heston and she also had considerable responsibilities in connection with the Airport Club. She also won the first All-Ladies Race at Sywell, Northants in September 1931. She joined the ATA in December 1940 working first at Hatfield and then taking command of No 5 Pool based at Haddenham airfield. She lived at Mallards Court in Stokenchurch. In January 1943 whilst delivering a De Havilland Mosquito she over-corrected the landing and the undercarriage collapsed. 


Her confidential report from her Commanding Officer in February 1943 stated:

"She has carried out her duties as Flight Captain in a very satisfactory manner. Her sense of discipline is good, and she is a capable organiser and can always be trusted to do her job efficiently and well. She should make a good Second in Command."

She is pictured below with Captain Graham Head of the ATA.

In March 1944, she was driving back in the dark to her billet after duty, turned a corner and ran into a lorry. She hit some scaffolding which was sticking out of the back of the lorry and had some considerable injuries to her head and face, needing dental and other repairs. She was off work for a month, returning to duty on the 13th April 1943.

She arrived at RAF Little Rissington on 13th July 1944 to ferry Vickers Wellington from Z1690 of 8 Maintenance Unit to 26 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wing. After taking off at about 1810 the aircraft was observed to make a 50 degree turn to starboard and lose height as it approached the village of Great Rissington. At the last minute the aircraft swerved away and crashed into a field at Glebe Farm. Flying Officer John Terence Gardiner, serving as medical officer at RAF Little Rissington, stated that he was informed of a crash and, on arriving on the scene at 1840 he found the aircraft on fire. He examined the body of the pilot and in his opinion death was due to multiple injuries and burns.

Flight Captain Slade was commended for her actions in avoiding crashing on the village, a subsequent investigation found no sufficient cause for the crash.  

15th March 1945: Avro Lancaster Mk I LL902 EM-A from 207 Squadron which was returning from a bombing operation to Lutzkendorf, crashed at 0250 when it flew into the ground because of heavy fog whilst landing at Little Rissington, after being diverted. Six crew died in the crash and the seventh the following day in hospital. They were;

Flying Officer MICHAEL JOHN HEDLEY COOKE, Pilot, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 23. He was buried in Oxford Botley Cemetery. Son of John Hedley and Dora Cooke and husband of Phyllis Eva Cooke, of Colwall, Herefordshire.

Pilot Officer RONALD FAIRCLOUGH, Flight Engineer, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 24. He is buried in Trevethin St Cadoc Churchyard and was born in Pontypool, Monmouthshire.

Pilot Officer HOWARD BRUCE BODDY, Navigator, Royal Canadian Air Force, aged 33. He is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery. He was the son of Francis Edward and Margaret Maria Boddy, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and husband of Muriel Louise Boddy, of Toronto.

Flight Sergeant JOSEPH WILLIAM LAING, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 23. He was the son of Thomas and Mary Laing, of Wingate and is buried in Hutton House Roman Catholic Burial Ground.

Flight Sergeant REGINALD GEORGE ANDREW BREACH, Wireless Operator, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 33. He was the husband of Florence May Breach, of Twickenham, Middlesex, and is buried in Conisbrough Cemetery.

Flight Sergeant FREDERICK RONALD STEAD, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 23. He was the son of Thomas and Esther Ellen Stead, of Bold, and is buried in Farnworth St Luke Churchyard.

Pilot Officer JOHN D'ARCY, Air Gunner, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, aged 22. He was the son of Lt.-Col. J. I. D'Arcy, Royal Artillery, and Mrs. D'Arcy, of Athenry, County Galway, Irish Republic. He is buried in Oxford Botley Cemetery.

Avro Lancaster LL902 E-MA, pictured below, flew more air operations with 207 Squadron than any other Lancaster.