This memorial originally stood at the Plain in Oxford, but is now at the Edward Brooks Barracks near Abingdon.
The photograph below was taken during its period at the Slade Barracks in Headington.
The South African War Memorial is dedicated to the 142 men of the First Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry who died in the South African (Boer) War of 1899 to 1902.
The monument was designed and executed by an art metal worker of London called Gawthorp. It is made of Portland stone and is about nine feet high.
It was unveiled by the Bishop of Oxford on 19 September 1903 in the former churchyard of St Clement’s Church (now the site of the Plain roundabout) in front of a crowd of up to five thousand people. The 1st Battalion of the OBLI were under orders for India, and the ceremony took place while it was still unfinished so that they could be present: there was no statue on top of the plinth at the time. The photograph below showing the occasion belonged to Annie Collins, née Hedges (1879–1941):
Between 4,000 and 5,000 people attended the ceremony. The procession, headed by the Mayor’s sergeant carrying the mace, started at Magdalen College School in Cowley Place. Lieutenant General Green Wilkinson said that the memorial was “a sacred possession, and would be handed down for many years in the City of Oxford amongst the beautiful buildings and historic houses”. The Mayor said that they had tried to find a site even more public than this one at the Plain, but it would nevertheless “be always prominent before the citizens”.
“Hymns to be sung at the unveiling of the South African war memorial of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry by the Lord Bishop of Oxford: September 19, 1903” is available at the Oxfordshire History Centre (PA Pamphlets (strongroom) OXFO/725.94).
Sadly this memorial is no longer even in Oxford. It has had four locations in all:
- It originally stood in the former St Clement’s churchyard at The Plain in Oxford
- It was taken to Cowley Barracks in the 1950s, when the Plain roundabout was created
- In about 1958, when Cowley Barracks was due to close down, it was moved to the Territorial Army Centre at Slade Park in Horspath Driftway, Headington, where the above photograph was taken
- In 2008 it moved with the County Territorials to their new TA Centre in Abingdon, and forms the centrepiece of the entrance to Edward Brooks Barracks.
Picture of memorial
when it stood in St Clements
(English Heritage website)
The memorial lists the 33 men killed in action and the 109 men who died of disease. The front panel which originally faced the city of Oxford bears an inscription, and the other three panels bear the names listed below:
Killed in action
Died of Disease
2455 B. Edwards
The Boer War Memorial at its new home at Edward Brooks Barracks (photographed by John Drummond)
This memorial on the Database of the Imperial War Museums:
1st Battn Oxfordshire Light Infantry Boer War