Source: MiddletonCheney.org, reproduced by kind permission.
The story of Private James Henry Bidwell (son of James and Elizabeth Bidwell), 7th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, is best told by his younger brother, Greville -
“When our Mum heard that our brother Jim was “Missing, presumed killed” in World War Two she was devastated and wrote to every agency she could think of to see if she could find out what had happened to him. You see, there’s always that element of hope when someone is listed as missing.
Jim died on Thursday 17th February 1944. He was 28 and married with two young children, his family lived at 93 Causeway in Banbury. We eventually found out that Jim was killed at Anzio, this was a tragic battle where the troops were landed on a solid rock beach where they were unable to “dig in” and find cover. The subsequent battle was later described as an obscene massacre with the German troops who were there stating, “It was like shooting fish in a barrel.” Dad gave him a silver coin before he went away and told him that he had carried it for luck throughout the First World War and it had brought him back. He hoped it would bring his son home too.”
James Henry Bidwell (Jim) is commemorated in Florence War Memorial in Italy, hundreds of miles from Anzio and until recently the family could only wonder if their brother was wounded in the battle and transferred to a Casualty Clearing Station before he died. Recent research ( Parish Archivist - 2009) has led to the discovery of an eye-witness account that Jim was, in fact taken prisoner of war on 17th February 1944 and while these soldiers were taken behind enemy lines they were attacked from the air. Jim was wounded in the back by a bomb fragment and was subsequently moved away with other wounded soldiers on a track vehicle. He was taken to a German hospital at Trespiano, just north of Florence but he sadly died of his wounds and was interred in the hospital cemetery. These graves were transferred to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery when it was established in November 1944.
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