"Find out who's behind the Soldiers of Oxfordshire museum"
John Sheldon is an Honours graduate of the University of Manchester, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Trustee of the Bucks Military Museum Trust.
He lives in Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, and retired in 2009 as CEO of a division of the John Lewis Partnership. In retirement he has written two books about the Stewkley men who fell in the Great War and in WWII, the research for which was aided by volunteers at SOFO, leading him to become involved as a volunteer himself, and to lead the research and writing for the Prisoners of War gallery in the permanent exhibition at SOFO. He is currently working as a volunteer with the SOFO Museum soldier enquiry service.
I first became interested in Military history when I was a parish councillor for Long Hanborough. I was appointed to the War Memorial sub committee and on my visits to the garden I came to know the names of the men on the Memorial but nothing about them. A villager pointed me to the Oxford Central Library as they had a CD called Soldiers Who Died in the Great War. Using this disc and the Commonwealth War Graves website I was able to trace twenty nine of the thirty names for the First World War. I am at present working on the names of those who died in the Second World War. Whilst researching one name from the First World War I became acquainted with another volunteer at the Museum. He suggested that I joined the Research Team, I offered my services and was accepted. In the year that I have been with the team I have researched men from the 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th Battalions in World War Two and some pre 1900. My own research is the Italian Campaign in World War One as my grandfather was killed on 1st November 1918 during the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. &
Recently recruited as a research volunteer Alan has spent 37 years in the defence industry based in Kent, moving to Oxfordshire on retirement. He has a particular interest in all matters related to aviation.
Medals, medals, everywhere! When I joined SOFO as a volunteer, I was given a role that every medal collector would dream about – handling and putting together the medal display.
Ever since the age of 8 when I was given my first medal by my grandmother, medals have played a big part in my life. I am eligible for my 25 year long service badge with the orders and Medal Research Society this coming autumn but I have been collecting and gaining a wealth of medal related information , both British and Foreign, for nearly 46 years and now have a real opportunity to put some of this knowledge to use within the museum .
It is always a pleasure coming to Woodstock and working with the friendly and welcoming group of likeminded volunteers and full time staff, and just having the opportunity to hold and see some of the Orders and medals won by men of famous Oxfordshire regiments, is not only a joy, but a true privilege, and despite being born and living in Buckinghamshire, I am glad my county also played it’s part in making local history and adding colour to this wonderful museum.
Lesley Kumiega, now retired from library posts with the Open University and Oxford University, has taken responsibility for SOFO's Research Library and works with the Research Panel to update information on the Soldiers' Database.
Paul was born and educated in Swindon. He spent several years in the British Army before becoming a police officer with the Metropolitan Police in London, and then going on to serve with the Royal Cayman Islands Police in the British West Indies. A keen sportsman he has represented both army and police units at rugby, football and cricket and was part of the Metropolitan Police Shooting Team. He is a qualified scuba diver and a licensed parachutist.Paul returned to Wiltshire in the summer of 2014 and joined the research team at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in September the following year; his love of history having evolved over the years into a special interest in military history, with particular focus on the Great War and the Napoleonic Wars. As well as research for the museum, in his spare time he reads a lot of history books, paints landscapes and practices medieval longbow archery. He also enjoys cooking, winemaking and the responsible consumption of single malt whisky. He often visits the battlefields of Europe. He loves the great outdoors and the natural world. As well as becoming a published writer, his main ambition is to scuba dive and explore the lost ships of Truk Lagoon in the Solomon Islands and of Guadalcanal. He would one day like to live on a canal boat.
Mike is proud of his military heritage despite only pushing a pen during his working life. In WW2 father was in the RAF Regiment whilst mother was a WRAF. One grandfather spent his career in the Royal Navy, having joined aged 16, and the other served with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the Great War. Grandmother's brother began the Great War in the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars and that is where his interests lie. Always gathering information about Oxfordshire Yeomen from their formation in the late 18th century right through to the modern day but focussing his main efforts on the Great War. He also helps with both the management of our archives and our extensive database of men who have served with the County Regiments over the years.