The Black Horse pub in Checkendon turned back the years to 1918 on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary this year of the end of WW1 all in aid of the Henley Poppy Appeal.
Landlords, Martin and Margaret Morgan host an annual party to thank their regulars at this time of year and the WW1 Armistice anniversary was chosen as they are both interested in the history of the World Wars and they make an annual trip in an old car to Ypres in Belgium around Armistice Day to visit the grave of Margaret’s Great Uncle. They also wanted to support the Henley Poppy Appeal as Chair of the British Legion Henley & Peppard Branch, John Green is a regular at the pub too.
The centrepiece for the party was a Sopwith Pup plane replica model which was built out of wood by Martin over the last couple of months and had ribbons of poppies hanging down from it. The Sopwith Pup was first used in combat in 1916 towards the end of the Somme campaign. Martin said, “I found a plan of the plane in a magazine and then scaled it down. I only finished it yesterday by adding the undercarriage and wheels with some help as my arm has been in a sling after I fell over last week. We’re planning to keep the plane on display until Armistice Day but we don’t have any plans for it afterwards. Margaret said, “We’ve known John for over 25 years and we thought we should host the party as normal in the summer when the weather is better rather than in November. John has organised a bugler to come later to play the last post and we’ve also got a band from London to entertain us with some war time songs.”
Regulars were all dressed up in uniforms and clothes from the era with many hiring their costumes from Oxfordshire Drama Wardrobe in Steventon and there was a table of old wartime artefacts along with copies of the Daily News & Leader newspaper from 1914 to read. John Mangiacapra who lives in the village and has been a regular for 35 years was wearing an army officer’s uniform. John said, “I didn’t know what to wear so in desperation I went to Joliffes in Marlow and chose this.”
As well as the plane there were two old motorbikes, one of which was a 1912 Triumph Roadstar as well as a Ford Model T car from the 1920s on display owned by regular Chris Lewis.
Jenny Bexx who helped Margaret with the party said, “Martin and Margaret definitely know how to put a party on. I don’t though want to see another potato after I’ve peeled so many for the corn beef hash we’re having later!”
John Green said, “Everyone entered into the spirit of the event. The highlight in the evening was the playing of the last post and the reveille and the observance of a two minute silence by the gathering some of whom had lost relatives in the Great War and others who had served in Afghanistan and the Gulf. A truly moving commemoration.”