Wheeler Brothers was a long established tailors and outfitters trading in Wantage Market Place since 1834.

The shop was between what is now TSB Bank and Boots the Chemists and for many years The Crown of Old England Inn.

In the 1900s, Alfred (Harry) Henry Wheeler ran the business. Harry was married to Florence (née Mowbray) and they had six sons and one daughter Mary who had left home.

Of the sons, Bernard the eldest worked for his father and three others Denys, Philip and Gerald all attended King Alfred’s School. One son had died in infancy and Cecil worked as a bookseller in Oxford.

By January 1914, Harry Wheeler had decided to retire and went to live at Stanley Road Oxford.

It was at this stage, that Denys bought the business from his father borrowing money from his father-in-law William Hawkins.

Gerald, the youngest son was already working in Oxford, where he had been a pupil of Mr Clement Bellamy at Messrs Druce & Co, Chemists in the High Street since 1912.

In December 1914, aged 18, Gerald Wheeler enlisted into the 1/4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders at Bedford.

After training, he went to France on 13th March 1915, in time for the Battle of Aubers Ridge. It was during this battle that Gerald was to lose his life.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in France.

The Wheeler Brothers tailoring business depended on Denys attending local markets to solicit business and also the local horse racing industry for which the business supplied jockey's outfits.

With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 horse racing was suspended for the duration of the war. This and the reduction of customers attending the local markets hit Wheeler Brothers hard.

Few orders were received and eventually the shop closed in 1916 and Denys filed for bankruptcy.

In the meantime, he had had been mobilised into the Royal Flying Corps on 18th July 1916 as an Aircraftsman 2nd Class.

Denys Wheeler served in the RFC in the UK until June 1917, when he was transferred via the East Surreys to the 21st Battalion London Regiment in France.

Sadly he was to die of wounds received in action at Bourlon Wood on 7th December 1917. He was 28.

His widow later received a war pension of 20/- 5d a week and also his war medals. She was at this time living with her parents-in-law at Stanley Road Oxford.

Of the other sons of Harry and Florence Wheeler only Philip served in the Great War, as a lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery.

A qualified electrical engineer, he served in India, at the Gun and Shell Factory at Cossipore and in Mesopotamia from 1916-1918.

Remaining in the army post-war he returned to India where sadly he died of illness in 1927.

He left a wife Constance, who he had married in 1912, and three children, one of whom Gerald, died serving with the Fleet Air Arm on HMS Ark Royal in 1940.

Bernard and Cecil Wheeler emigrated to Western Australia in 1912 where they lived for the rest of their lives. Bernard became a school-teacher and Cecil was a photographer.

Mary Wheeler, Harry and Florence Wheeler’s only daughter became a teacher for Willesden Education Committee in London.

She married Captain Charles W W Foster MC of the Royal Garrison Artillery who had served in India and they had several children, one of whom Charles was killed in action serving with the RAF in Norway in 1945. Mary Foster died in 1951.