Oral history

Over the years the Club has built up a library of oral history recordings in two collections:

  • Radley Remembered – a series of interviews with people with memories of Radley up to and including the 1953 Coronation
  • A Tale to Tell – interviews with people who live or have lived in Radley with interesting tales to tell about their lives

Recordings have also been made as part of the research by the Club for its ‘Radley Primary School’ and ‘Farming and Rural Life in Radley’ projects.

All the recordings are listed by subject category in the archive catalogue.

Discs of interviews in the ‘Radley Remembered’ and ‘A Tale to Tell’ series are generally available on request from the Club archivist, price £1 plus postage & packing (if applicable).

World War Two memories

Club member and past chairman, Christine Wootton, is preparing a series of short accounts of Radley experiences in the Second World War. While she’s making use of recordings from the Club’s oral history collection, this is a wider project using material Christine has acquired during research on other topics. Some of her accounts are about the war experiences of individual Radley residents (often in ways unrelated to Radley) and some about life on the home front in the village. Below Christine explains how the project came about.

Some years ago Radley resident, Bill Small, gave a talk at the Radley Retirement Group about his time as a prisoner of war. He was captured in May 1940 at Dunkirk and the 80th anniversary reminded me that I had a transcript of his talk. I felt that it would be good to share his experiences with the wider community and this set me off thinking that it would be useful to record, in an easily accessible form, the wartime experiences of more Radley people.

The project is still work in progress. The first accounts were published on the Club website in April 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8/9 May 2020. Further accounts will be made available each month.

First published in June 2020

David Buckle had what he described as ‘a quiet war’. He served in the Royal Marines from 1943 to 1945, first in a combined operations group in charge of landing craft and then as part of a special brigade that was sent to northern Germany at the end of the war. Read David’s story

Many Radley residents have a story to tell of their family’s experiences during World War Two. One is Amatsia Kashti. One set of grandparents were killed by the Nazis, but the other set escaped from Germany with their family including Amatsia’s mother, first to Paris and then to Switzerland. Read about the wartime experiences of Amatsia Kashti’s relatives

During the war staff and pupils of Radley CE Primary School held gas mask and air raid practices, and took part in fund-raising for the war effort. Obtaining fuel to heat the Victorian classrooms during the winter was a continuing problem. Read about Radley Primary School in wartime

First published in May 2020

Lorre Stebbings was born in Germany and lived there throughout the war. Her family’s home was destroyed by bombing and they frequently had to shelter during raids. When the war ended she and her family were often hungry. Lorre married an English soldier after the war and came with him to England. Read Lorre’s story

Doug Rawlinson was a school boy in London when the war broke out. He was evacuated twice, both unhappy experiences. He served in the Navy from 1944 to 1947. After training at Skegness, he sailed on two ships – one to Australia and the other to Japan. While in Japan he visited Miyajima and Hiroshima. Read Doug’s story

Radley Women’s Institute in wartime While meetings continued as normally as possible, members of Radley WI joined in national campaigns to make jam and to grow onions and other crops. Much time was spent on fund-raising, supporting prisoners-of war and putting on social events for members of the armed forces stationed locally. Read about the activities of Radley WI during WW2

First published in April 2020

Bill Small, a private in the 4th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (a Territorial unit), served in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He was captured by the Germans in May 1940 during the retreat to Dunkirk and spent the rest of the war as a POW. Read Bill’s story

Charles Lockett joined the RAF in 1931, becoming a squadron leader in 1938. In September 1939, he led No. 226 (Bomber) Squadron to France. Charles was shot down and captured in May 1940 during a raid on Reims. He was a prisoner at several camps, ending the war at Colditz. Christine’s research about Charles started when the Club was given a letter written by him to his wife from Colditz. Read Charles’ story

Radley played its part in taking in evacuees, among them children from a London primary school and several schools at various times at Radley College. Many of the evacuees based in the village lived at Bigwood Camp in Radley Large Wood. Read about evacuees in Radley in WW2