Oscar’s story is in many ways the archetypal WWI story. He married in August 1916, was sent to France in September, and was killed in October. However one part of the story that is not so common is that he did have a fellow Wing man (and his new brother-in-law to boot) by his side when he died.
Oscar was the eldest of ten children born to Charles Rimington and Grace Amelia Earp, who had married in Charles’ native Nottingham. The family had come to Wing soon afterward where Oscar was born in the hamlet of Littleworth in 1893. Many of Wing’s new arrivals in this era had specifically come to work at Ascott, the summer home of Leopold and Marie de Rothschild, and so it was with the Rimington family – Charles worked for them as a groom, and lived in one of the Littleworth cottages owned by the Rothschilds.
All three of the Rimington sons eventually worked at the Ascott estate as well, the two youngest as grooms like their father, however Oscar is listed as a hall boy at Ascott House in the 1911 census. He’d been promoted to telegraph clerk by 1913 (that snippet of information comes courtesy of a nasty incident reported in the Bucks Herald that year when a workman tried to commit suicide and Oscar had helped save him).
Then war intervened. Oscar had certainly enlisted by February 1915 as he’s amongst those listed in the parish magazine as serving in some capacity. Demonstrating his family’s evident affinity for horses, he signed up with the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (Oxfordshire Yeomanry). He was part of the 2/1st Oxfordshire Yeomanry which stayed in England and did not serve overseas.
Unfortunately for Oscar, he did not stay in the QOOH. At some point, he transferred to the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI), joining the 6th Battalion as a private, service number 32854. He was presumably given notification of his imminent mobilisation to France, after which he married local Wing girl Sarah Emily May Pitchford on 19 August 2016 before heading off to his overseas duty in mid-September.
At this point the 6th Battalion of the OBLI was active on the Somme, having taken part in the attack on Guillemont on 3rd September but now having a break from the front line trenches. They were based at Carnoy Valley from the 22nd September through to 6th October. The attack they were to take part in the next day was the only major attack that Oscar took part in.
The battalion’s role on 7 October was to attack the German front line and drive the Germans out, after which the Le Transloy-Thilloy-Warlencourt-Faucourt line could be attacked a few days later. The 6th Battalion’s part in this – attacking Rainbow Trench – was sucessful. After 4 minutes of defensive machine-gun fire the Germans abandoned the trench and ran back to their second line, leaving the OBLI men to wriggle through or jump over the 2 1/2 feet high barbed wire fence and move in. The 8th September was spent consolidating the position, after which they moved on to Bernafay Wood that evening, and the Bray-Albert road on the 9th. It was at some point during this process that Oscar lost his life. While his death was officially recorded as 9th October, the register of soldiers effects suggests it was at some time between the 6th and the 9th.
Wing’s parish magazine for November 1916 reported:
“Pte. Oscar Rimington was killed while taking part in a reconnoitring expedition. His brother-in-law, Archie Pitchford, was at his side when he fell, and thought he was wounded in the shoulder, but the Chaplain wrote later that he was shot through the head. In his letter he says: “Dear Mrs. Rimington, I regret to inform you that your husband has been killed in the recent fighting. He and other comrades laid their own lives for their country when taking part in a brave and successful piece of work. The whole battalion sympathises with you in your loss. May God give you comfort.” His platoon officer also wrote regretting the loss of a good soldier. Oscar Rimington was in charge of the telephone at Ascott House for some years, and was known as a trusty and excellent young man. Since his father died he has been a great comfort and help to his mother and her large family. He joined the Queen’s Own Oxford Hussars in January, 1915, and in France was attached to the Oxon. and Bucks. L.I. He was married two months ago, and went abroad immediately after.”
Charles Earp Rimington
One of Oscar’s younger brothers, Charles Earp, also served in WW1. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a private, service number M2/149027 (so was likely to have been a driver or mechanic), later on in the war and served in North Africa.