Members of Bicester’s Royal British Legion branch are calling for a new war memorial to honour the town’s war dead.
In a letter to Bicester Town Council, David Crabbe, branch chairman of the Bicester and Launton RBL, said he and fellow committee members believe the memorial next to St Edburg’s Church is no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
Mr Crabbe said the memorial was, “in a poor state of repair, is currently located in an inappropriate and restrictive location and does not commemorate, in one place, all those who have paid the ‘ultimate price’ in military campaigns during and since WWI.”
He said the committee has decided to run a two-phase campaign.
The first phase will be to refurbish the existing war memorial in time for the centenary of the start of the First World War in 2014.
After that, the second phase of the campaign will seek to relocate the memorial to a more central location, such as Market Square.
A history of St Edburg’s Church written by David Buxton, Matthew Hathaway and Gill King reveals the churchyard war memorial was built in or around 1918, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Oxford in February 1921.
A tablet in the church’s north porch was dedicated at the same time.
The memorial holds the names of 103 Bicester men who died in the First World War.
A second tablet was installed in the church porch in 1948 dedicated to the 26 Bicester men who died in the Second World War.
In 1996, a new memorial tablet was dedicated to 20-year-old Private Herbert Clifton, who had been killed in the Korean War.
A previous campaign to refurbish the war memorial had been launched in 1947, after it had already begun to show signs of disrepair.
Councillor James Porter, chairman of the town council’s policy committee, said the council was very supportive of plans to refurbish the war memorial.
He said some government funding was available for the upkeep of memorials, but said a group made up of various local organisations such as the RBL, town council and local history society would stand a better chance of securing funding than the town council on its own.
He said there would have to be further conversations over what happens with the memorial, and how the town marks the centenary of the First World War.
Members of any town organisation interested in getting involved in the war memorial refurbishment or the centenary commemorations should contact Bicester Town Council on 01869 252915 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.