Much has been written and broadcast this year about the history of the First World War during this 100th anniversary year of the outbreak of the hostilities which affected the lives of so many people across the world. During this horrific war the total of military and civilian casualties was over 37 million – 16 million deaths and over 20 million wounded. These huge numbers ranked the First World War among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
The Sibfords played their part and I am currently researching life in our villages during these four years. To mark the 100th anniversary on 4th August 2014, I have summarised some of the facts which have already come to light about the lives of the villagers who lived and worked here during those war-torn years:
- The population of the Sibfords was around 650 in 1914
- 88 men and 2 women from the villages served in the British Armed forces
- 10 men gave their lives in the service of their country
- 80 villagers returned safely
- The Primary School, which had between 80 and 90 pupils, was closed several occasions due to outbreaks of measles, diphtheria and influenza
- The school children picked 1 ton 6 cwts and 94 lbs of blackberries which were taken to Bloxham Station to be sent for jam making for the troops
- Following a public meeting in October 1914, the villagers agreed to ‘take a cottage and support a Belgian Refugee family for as long as seems necessary’
- Regular donations of between 1 and 3 pence a week were collected and used to support two families who came to live in Burdrop. Monsieur de Vries and Monsieur Poppe were cousins and diamond cutters and polishers who fled from Antwerp during the German invasion of Belgium. With their Wives and four young sons they were given a home, furniture and supported financially by the villagers
- The 9 Trustees of the T own Estate Charity met regularly throughout the War years. They provided prizes to the village school for Scripture, Horticulture and Sewing. They supported the Rev Moxon’s Clothing Fund, made allocations of coal and set up an account at the Co-op to pay for soup and Bovril for needy residents in the Gower and Burdrop
- Sibford cricket club continued to play local matches although seine of their players were serving abroad.
I plan to continue my research and would love to hear from anyone who can add any local stories, photographs or memories from those years. I am grateful to those who have already helped in any way, especially Judith Weeks who has visited the War Graves in France and who has photographed and recorded the graves of the local men who were buried there. Bob Lamb has shared his memories of life on the family farm when his father and three brothers all served on the Western Front in different ways. Fortunately, they all returned safely to their families.
If you can help me in any way with further information, photographs or family memories please get in touch with me: Maureen Hicks.