In the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, TOBY PORTER looks at the remarkable story of a forgotten Gallipoli soldier – and hears how 345 lost Southwark soldiers will be remembered during the commemorations
BY TOBY PORTER
Arthur Mace died of tuberculosis, just six weeks before the end of the First World War.
The resident of Thurso Street, Tooting – yards from where St George’s Hospital was later built – had been discharged from the army two years before.
But a researcher at a nearby church has found that his sickness was exacerbated by time in one of the most harrowing theatres of war, Gallipoli in Turkey.
That campaign, to take Constantinople from the Turks, masterminded by First Lord of the Admirality Winston Churchill, failed after almost 11 months, in January 1916
The British and French allied forces lost almost 200,000 men and the Turks another 56,000. But Arthur’s part in the conflict was never marked by any memorial.
Instead, the forgotten warrior was buried in an unmarked grave in Streatham cemetery, with no military recognition.
Last week a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) stonemason visited the Cemetery and carved his name onto the war memorial, 100 years after his death.
Arthur had worked as a cinema operator before leaving Tooting in 1915, and went to Norfolk aged 19 to join a regiment called The Welsh Horse.
They were sent to Gallipoli where fighting raged from February 1915 to January 1916.
Papers discovered by researcher Geoff Simmons, part of the congregation at St Mary’s Church in Summerstown, revealed that his fatal illness was exacerbated by his service there.
Mr Simmons’ research organisation, Summerstown182, located a death certificate and with the help of an organisation called In From the Cold petitioned for him to be added to the CWGC register.
Four years later, his name is now on the memorial and a source of great pride to his family.
Genealogist Sheila Hill tracked down Arthur’s nephew Ivor and niece Joan, still living in South London.
Their mother never told them about her two brothers who had served in the First World War, both dying of illness rather than in the battlefield. Mr Simmons said: “Of all the work we’ve done over the last four years, this is something we are probably most proud of.
Arthur was written out of history, forgotten by his family. “But now, as it says on the memorial, his name lives for ever more.”
Arthur’s younger brother William also died from TB – though this was not proved to be connected to his military service.
On the centenary of his death in 2017, he was commemorated with a special ceremony in Streatham Cemetery involving local schoolchildren, and his name has been added to the Cemetery Roll of Honour.
Residents can hear more about their story, and see the Stripes of Peace tributes at the Mace’s home in Thurso Street, by joining the Summerstown182 Walk of Remembrance on Saturday, November 10, at 11am at St Mary’s Church in Wimbledon Road.
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