Thame Remembers, an historic community project to place crosses on the graves of 190 men from the town who have died in conflicts in the past 120 years, formally launches tomorrow.
Crosses will be laid at the 32 graves and memorials in St Mary’s Churchyard, Thame. The evening will include a church service at 6pm followed by an open-air ceremony involving local dignitaries.
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.
Some 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.
Tomorrow’s event, marking the 100th anniversary of the eve of the declaration of war, will start with a commemorative church service at 6pm and then participants and public will assemble on the outfield of the cricket pitch which overlooks the churchyard.
A lone piper from the RAF Halton Pipe Band will play in the churchyard whilst local dignitaries and representatives of youth groups take position, announced by members of Thame Players Theatre.
The cross-laying ceremony will then take place at about 7.30pm, conducted by a series of bugle calls, in the tradition of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. Two of the ceremonies will involve relatives of those being remembered.
Throughout the evening there will be displays explaining the project and others relating to the war in general.
Refreshments will be available. Following the event the church will remain open for anyone wishing to reflect in their own private vigil.
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.”
Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
3:47pm Friday 21st November 2014
The Prince of Wales has made a visit to Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons in Milton, to view an organic heritage garden commissioned by Raymond Blanc.
3:16pm Friday 21st November 2014
THREE people have been arrested in Abingdon today following a robbery early this morning.
3:42pm Friday 21st November 2014
DETECTIVES are unlikely to know what killed an 11-week-old boy from Faringdon for at least a week.
Family's Pomeranian dog blinded after being savaged by Japanese Akita-type dog during day-out in Banbury
2:00pm Friday 21st November 2014
A FAMILY has been “traumatised” after their pet dog was blinded in a vicious attack from another dog in Banbury.
Family tribute to A4095 crash victim Richard Reed: We will never see that beautiful infectious smile again
12:02pm Friday 21st November 2014
THE family of a 26-year-old man killed in a crash at North Leigh have said they do not have the words to say how the support of his friends has helped them.
11:34am Friday 21st November 2014
Six things you may not have known were happening in Oxfordshire this weekend.