War hero’s name put forward for new street

RAF Halton get the Freedom of Thame - HRH Camilla Duchess of Cornwall - pictured talking to Arthur Staggs
RAF Halton get the Freedom of Thame - HRH Camilla Duchess of Cornwall - pictured talking to Arthur Staggs

A Second World War spy and a former mayor of Thame could each have a street named after them on a new housing estate.

Arthur Staggs, who turns 100 on November 17, was a British spy in Nazi-occupied France.

He was awarded the Legion D’Honneur in 2005 for his outstanding service. This is the highest decoration granted by the French state, for outstanding valour.

Mr Staggs, a tough Londoner born in 1912, spent much of his life before the war in northern France, after his widowed father married a French woman, and spoke the local patois of the Roubaix area like a native. It was this which carried him through two months of Gestapo interrogation.

In February 1944, his cover identity as a local man still intact, Mr Staggs was released, the local Gestapo chief joking that they had wrongly believed he was ‘un parachutiste Anglais’ – an English agent. Mr Staggs laughed back at him.

Mr Staggs, who now lives at Meadowcroft residential care home in Thame, is an Honorary Citizen of the town.

Former mayor of Thame, the late John Massey will also have a street named after him.

Thame Town Council suggested both of these names for roads within the new housing estate of Thame Park Road, when approached for ideas by South Oxfordshire Distict Council.

The district council will now decide whether to carry these ideas forward.

Mayor of Thame, Nigel Champken-Woods, said he thought the plans to honour these figures was a ‘wonderful’ idea.

He said: “I think it’s great, I really do.

“I didn’t know John Massey, as he was before my time, but I certainly know that Arthur really is wonderful.

“I think it’s really nice to remember these people who gave their service to the town, particularly Arthur Staggs – he’s incredible. It was unanimous to honour these people at the council when it was suggested.”