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War Memorials

DUNTERTON'S WAR DEAD

 

Dunterton does not have a war memorial though it does have a Great War  grave  - that of Frank Thomas who died when he was only 21, at home in Dunterton. Unlike the majority of  British War grave markers which are made in white stone,   his marker stone is almost black - it is made in fact of a local stone called greystone - a concoction of cinders, pumice dust and volcanic rubble, now a vital ingredient in the manufacture of cement. This stone was created during the geological upheavals which formed  the  adjacent Tamar Valley in the beginnings of our planet. As a boy, Frank lived at Greystone Bridge,  so it would seem appropriate to mark his grave in this way.

 

The grave of Frank Thomas

The grave of Frank Thomas

©Richard J. Brine

 

Frank was the only son of George and Rosa Thomas. He joined the 13th Hussars on 16 March 1917, one of the most famous of all the British cavalry regiments, then under the command of Lord Baden Powell who had founded the scout movement in happier days.   He soon found himself in Mesopotamia, fighting to capture Baghdad. He continued to fight in that country,  after the war in Europe had stopped, in fact until November 1918 when he was judged by a military hospital to be injured so badly that he was issued with a Silver Badge, discharged as physically unfit to fight and sent home to Dunterton.

 

He lived on until  February 1920, without hospital care or, presumably, pain relief as so many men did, until he died on February 13 in that year aged 21. It seems likely that he was injured in the Battle of Sharqat  (October 23 - 30, 1918) the final battle of the Mesopotamian Campaign which was concluded by the signing of an armistice which gave the British access to the oil fields near Mosul. This had all along been the target because it ensured unlimited fuel supplies for the British Navy in the future.

 

From the official Great War History of the 13th Hussars - published in 1921:

"Altogether, the 13th Hussars did their duty well from the beginning to the end of their stay in Mesopotamia, which lasted for two years and a half. During that time, they gained much honour. Of their officers, eight were killed in action or died on service, two were disabled and taken prisoner and 14 were wounded. In other ranks, the numbers were 90 killed in action,  2 were disabled and 176 wounded. It is an honourable record."

 

 
 
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