A unique challenge to the Thame community to honour our war heroes
Press release: July 8, 2014
An historic community project, announced today, is inviting local people to help lay crosses of remembrance around the world at the graves of 190 men from Thame who have died in conflicts in the last 120 years.
A team of volunteer researchers has spent four months tracking down details of the Thame men who died in the First and Second World Wars, the Boer War and Korea, painstakingly identifying where they were killed or laid to rest. A few are buried in St Mary’s Churchyard in Thame, many more in France and Belgium. But the remainder ended their days in far-flung locations, including Greece, Italy, Egypt, Iraq, India, New Zealand and Tanzania. Some died at sea.
The project aims not only to formally record the histories of these men but also to involve the community in a unique act of commemoration.
Project co-ordinator Mike Dyer said: “We are appealing to anyone with an appropriate connection to the men or the town to help us lay a Thame Remembers cross on the grave of each serviceman and to formally record the moment. Whether they are a relative who would like to join a planned trip to the battlefields of France or Belgium, or a resident who happens to be going abroad on business or holiday, the project would love to hear from anyone inspired to take part.”
Volunteers will be given a special Thame Remembers two-bar cross for each ceremony. This is a recognised representation of the Holy Cross which the people of the town chose as its emblem in the early years of the Second World War.
A project website – thameremembers.org – provides full details of how to get involved and will record the cross-laying campaign as it develops. The team has also produced a special promotional video, shot in Thame, which re-creates a soldier’s departure from home and experience of war. The video can also be seen on the website.
Thame Remembers was the brainchild of David Bretherton, a local councillor and former RAF engineer who was instrumental in creating Thame Museum. He said: “We wanted to mark the 1914 anniversary with something which would involve the community directly in honouring these men and leave a lasting legacy of research and commemoration. I am confident the people of Thame will rise to the challenge.”
Mike Dyer added: “We have already found some striking human stories. Many are tales of tragic heroism, but occasionally there is a happy ending. For instance, one man whose death is marked on a memorial turns out to have survived to live a full life. We don’t know why his name appears there.”
On August 3, the centenary of the eve of the outbreak of war, the project is hosting a special public event – ‘100 Years On, Thame Remembers’. It will promote the project to the community and feature the first cross-laying at St Mary’s Church, displays of munitions and research into WW1 tunnels, and a vigil at the church.