Aiding People Fleeing Conflict -Eden Aid

I have discarded my cloak of comfort and volunteered to drive for the Oxford based Eden Aid charity ( and very soon I expect to be part of a team driving minibuses to the Poland/Ukraine border to deliver vital medical and humanitarian supplies and return with vulnerable refugees and their pets to host families in the UK.

I have set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for this fantastic cause delivering aid and transporting people to new beginnings.

Please have a look and a read (it’s not long!) and if you feel you could donate anything at all I would be thrilled.

Thank you.

Spencer Parkes Picture (at last!)

I am indebted to Mark Tucker for sharing a link to this picture of Spencer. After much research into this cousin Spencer’s WW1 experience and sad end, after following his footsteps at Passchendale, and having had the privilege of representing him in 2017 by special invitation as a descendant at the Passchendaele 100 Memorial Services at the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot Cemetery, it is at last wonderful to be able to put a face to the story. The picture comes from The Virtual War memorial of Australia.

Spencer’s story can be read on these two pages in this blog: Spencer Parkes and Spencer’s final days.

Happy New Year

Another year goes by with no battlefield visits and no immediate prospect of that changing. Hey ho, some things are more important.

Anyway a Happy New Year to my reader(s) – may it be kind to you! A few landscapes of the local area.

Important new book: “The Skipper’s War”

I am making an unashamed plug for a good friend who has recently published his book, “The Skipper’s War.” However, if it was not a fascinating read I would not dream of plugging it! For those with even a passing interest in The Great War, Oxford, or indeed The Dragon School, this is a book full of heart wrenching tales.

Tales of young men, with their school community as a common bond, who paid the greatest sacrifice.

I know the hard work and dedication that has gone into getting the book to publication in these testing times, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Click on “THE SKIPPER’S WAR” or the picture for more information and to order your copy.

“… An almost unbearably moving chronicle of the young lives –  ‘among the brightest and most talented of their generation’ – that were lost in the Great War. A valuable record of that wretched conflict, observed through their vivid, even, at times, humorous eyes. An affectionate portrait of the near-legendary headmaster who taught them the values for which they fought and sacrificed themselves…”       Nicholas Shakespeare

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This 300 page hardback book, which is being published by Scala, covers the years 1877-1920 and tells the story of the emergence of a small school in North Oxford under a charismatic headmaster and a remarkable generation that experienced the First World War.

The foreword has been specially written by Old Dragon, Rory Stewart, who observes”

“The story of these hundreds of lives and deaths connected by five years in a north Oxford prep school is almost an encyclopaedia of the war. The Dragons evacuate from the beaches of Gallipoli, are killed at the third Battle of Ypres, meet Lawrence of Arabia and Marie Curie, grapple with the German High Seas Fleet in the Battle of Jutland, save the wounded at the Easter Rising and are shot out of the sky by Baron von Richthofen…”

FO John Michael Bryan in action, 1942

I am grateful to hw97karbine for supplying the link below of rare footage involving my Great Uncle. Two years later he was killed in action. He is well remembered on this site.

Update – I am grateful to a cousin in Canada for adding this detail in the comments below:

“The book RAF Southend 1940-1944 by Peter C. Brown outlines in it the station log for that day as: “19 August 1942 as ….Operation Jubilee: an amphibious assault by Canadian, British and US troops was mounted to seize temporarily the Channel port of Dieppe.” And later on in the entry: ” When the turn was made over Dieppe … two Do 217s were then sighted over the rear of the main concentration of Allied shipping, bombs being dropped but well wide of their targets. Blue 1 fired at one of the Dorniers as it was entering cloud from a range of 600-700 yards but no results were observed.”