TIME is running out to reunite the family of a fallen soldier with his memorial plaque before the 100th anniversary of his death in the First World War.
Lance Corporal Aubrey Woodbridge, from Cowley Road in Littlemore, died in Mesopotamia on November 5, 1916 while serving with the First Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
The family of L Cpl Woodbridge, who was 24 when he died, received a memorial plaque awarded to the next-of-kin of everyone killed in the conflict. But almost a century later it has turned up in Somerset.
And the former Littlemore resident who found it wants to make sure it is returned to the descendants of L Cpl Woodbridge before November , 2016.
Anthony Warne, who was born in the John Radcliffe Hospital and lived in Long Lane, between 1959 and 1972, said the plaque was found in the garden.
The 62-year-old educational illustrator, who has lived in Somerset with his wife Brenda since 2002, said: “It was always sat on the shelf in the garage. My mum died in 2006 and I was clearing out her stuff from my garage and I found it again. Since then it has been in my garage.”
Mr and Mrs Warne took the plaque to be valued on BBC show Flog It in 2012, where it was found to be worth about £100.
At that stage they only knew the name of L Cpl Woodbridge, which is engraved on the plaque.
But staff from website lostmedals.co.uk helped them to find out more about the soldier’s background.
He was born in Oxford in 1892 to Thomas and Mary Ann Woodbridge and the 1901 census showed he lived with them at 45 Lysons Road, Littlemore, before moving to Cowley Road.
He fought in the Mesopotamian Campaign in modern-day Iraq when British Empire troops fought German and Ottoman forces.
He is believed to have died from inflammation of the intestines after being captured as a prisoner of war by the Ottomans and is buried in Baghdad War Cemetery.
L Cpl Woodbridge was posthumously awarded the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Mr Warne said if the plaque could not be returned to L Cpl Woodbridge’s descendants then he hoped to donate it to the Imperial War Museum.
Call the Oxford Mail on 01865 425500 if you can help.
The Mesopotamian campaign
THE Mesopotamian Campaign lasted from November 6, 1914 until November 14, 1918, three days after the armistice was signed.
Britain sent forces to the Middle East to protect Abadan, in modern-day Iran, which was home of one of the world’s first oil refineries.
Troops from Britain, Australia, India, New Zealand and Kuwait served in the campaign and 92,000 were killed as well as more than 100,000 Ottomans.
L Cpl Woodbridge is believed to be one of about 100 British prisoners of war who were sent to work on the railway as forced labour.
It is thought he was sent to Afiun Qarahisar in September 1916 and died there from inflammation of the intestines after suffering brutal treatment at the hands of his captors.