Poignant mission to honour Thame’s 190 fallen soldiers

Retired missionary Rev Hugh Prentice places a small cross on the grave of Thame soldier Arthur Henry Sutton in the Dodoma War Cemetery in Tanzania, Africa
Retired missionary Rev Hugh Prentice places a small cross on the grave of Thame soldier Arthur Henry Sutton in the Dodoma War Cemetery in Tanzania, Africa
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A man who set up a poignant project to honour Thame’s 190 fallen soldiers is calling on residents for help in visiting all their graves.

Project leader David Bretherton was inspired to set up the Thame Remembers project in collaboration with Thame Museum to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War after visiting the battlefields of France and Belgium last year.

After a year of intensive research with help from others, his aim is to deliver 190 wooden crosses – which were laid out in an emotional display in the town’s memorial garden as hundreds turned out for the moving service on Remembrance Sunday – to the graves of all the men from Thame who died serving their country, wherever in the world they may be.

Some are buried in New Zealand, Greece, Iraq, Pakistan, India and across North Africa.

David said: “We are appealing to the people of Thame to get in touch if they are going on holiday or travelling to any of these places on business.

“If they can deliver any of the crosses for us, we’d love them to get in touch.”

David thought it would be impossible to deliver a cross to the grave of Warrant Officer Arthur Henry Sutton, whose resting place is the Dodoma War Cemetery in Tanzania, Africa.

Warrant Officer Sutton contracted blackwater fever while serving in the East African Transport Corps and died on June 19, 1917 at the age of 31.

He was born in Thame in 1886 to William Robert and Ellen Sutton and baptised at St Mary’s Church.

David said: “I was talking to an Australian chap who came to the Thame Museum and he was telling me he was a retired missionary.

“I was telling him that it was going to be impossible to get the cross to Tanzania, and he said: “I know that cemetery – I’m going there next week! It was almost like fate.”

Rev Hugh Prentice (pictured) successfully delivered the cross to Warrant Officer Sutton’s grave on October 29, but there are still many crosses left. Call David on 01844 215178 if you think you can help. For more, visit www.thameremembers.org.