BACK TO THE PAST: ‘It was a shambles’ cried infantry

The Duke of Buckingham became a train spotter in 1865
The Duke of Buckingham became a train spotter in 1865

A special train took them to Buckingham Station, arriving at 11am.

The troops marched to Stowe in a “broiling” sun. Although the men had iron rations in haversacks, most bags were jettisoned along Stowe Avenue because it was confirmed that an Oxford firm had erected tents in Stowe Park and its food and drink would be cheap.

That intelligence was false: refreshments were available for spectators to purchase and were free for elite cavalrymen but out of bounds - merely a mirage - to foot soldiers, including the Oxford corps.

N.C.O.’s were allowed to visit the distant tents and buy beer for their chaps but that amounted to a sip per man.

Officers roused their disconsolate men by insisting that once their work had been finished, refreshments would follow.

The public cheered the Oxford Corps shouting “well done” and “bravo Oxford” and the top brass complimented the troops’ impressive march past.

The battle over-ran leaving neither time nor opportunity to visit “the tents” for these were being converted to stage grand dinners for the Duke of Buckingham’s house-guests, his men, and leading officers from the other military units.

It was a sumptuous affair lasting through the evening for the Duke had laid on transport to transfer the V.I.P.s to Buckingham where his Midnight Express ferried them to London, or wherever.

Meanwhile, the Oxford “Saturday Soldiers” trudged wearily back to Buckingham Station.

These men been on their feet all day, had marched 20 miles, and fought hard for more than 3 hours or more, without “bit[e] or sup” between them.

The main corps arrived at 6.40pm but there wasn’t a crust and only a horse trough in sight.

A fortunate advanced guard had told railway workers of its plight and had been instructed to hot-foot it to the Goods Station (more recently Tingewick Rd Industrial Park) where L&NW had filled the goods shed with bread and meat, cheese and beer for “their” rail-men.

These early troops fell on it like a plague of Oxford locusts and... it was gone.