Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 4th June 2024

Normandy 2024

Dear friends,

There is a little patch of Normandy in Checkendon churchyard.

Lt William Temple was among the very first to land in France, coming from the sky with the 7th Battalion (Light Infantry) of the Parachute Regiment, on the night of the 5th/6th June 1944, part of the 6th Airborne Division. He was a platoon commander, (No1 Platoon, A company) whose primary objective was the capture and holding of the bridges at Ranville and Benouville until the British and Canadian forces could break out from the landing beaches and relieve them. “A” Company  were detailed to set up defensive positions around the village of Benouville, holding it from the west against the expected German counter-attack. William, sadly, was critically wounded in the parachute drop, and (eventually) evacuated back to the UK, where he died a few days later. The bridges, more famously known by their codenames of “Horsa” and “Pegasus” were spectacularly captured in a daring “coup de main” raid, where troops from the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry landed by glider, at night, almost adjacent to them, and these were then augmented and supported by elements of the 5th Parachute Brigade for almost 22 hours, with only light weaponry, against superior numbers of German infantry including tanks and artillery. The successful holding of these bridges intact provided access for the Allies eastwards, pinning down a number of German divisions and gave options for the eventual Normandy breakout later in the summer of 1944.

William Temple’s grave (below) is on the north side of the churchyard, close to the Polish section. He left a widow, Patricia, who he had married in St Peter and St Paul’s in December 1941. When the 6th Airborne Division was withdrawn from the Normandy theatre in September 1944 it had lost over half its overall strength, killed or wounded. Over half of William’s  battalion, (that is, more than a hundred and fifty men), like him, never made it to Benouville, and are recorded as killed, wounded or just missing during the drop, which makes the achievements of their compatriots in holding the bridges even more remarkable. Imagine there is a doorway before you. If you knew that going through it would mean a 50% chance you’d be killed or wounded, would you go? Of course William Temple and those like him did not know these odds at the time. But they still jumped.

This day, as you go about your business, give thanks to God for your freedom, and resolve if you would to make better use of it, in the days that remain to you.

Worship Services for Sunday 9th June

9.30am Morning Prayer at St John’s Stoke Row with Revd Romey Poston

11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies


This Saturday, 8th June, from 6pm, in the school field. An unmissable event for the whole community, in support of the village school, with music, bands, food, and a bar. This may be your once in a lifetime chance to see the Rector behind his drum kit….You can buy tickets, or volunteer to help here.

Prayers please.

As well as remembering William Temple, from Checkendon, please also give thanks for the life of James Harry Bird, of Stoke Row, who was killed in action on D Day, and who is commemorated on the memorial in St John’s Church.

We also mourn with the families of Patricia Davies, and Richard Madeley, whose funerals have been/are being held at Checkendon in recent days.

Your Rector, Canon Kevin.

God of all comfort and grace, hold us and our dear ones in your loving care. May the glory of the risen Christ be theirs, and may the hope of your kingdom lighten our lives, in faith, and peace. Now and always, Amen.



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *