It is with profound sadness that we must report the loss of Stuart Bufton, former Vice Chairman of the Western Front Association on 20 August 2012
There will be a Thanksgiving Service at 3.00pm on Saturday, 1 September 2012, at St Mary's Church, Debenham in Suffolk. All are welcome to attend.
Debenham is easy to find (just north of Ipswich) but it is a small village so parking is limited close to the church. If anyone requires further information, please don't hesitate to contact WFA Trustee Mark Forsdike (07769944726).
Mark writes the following in appreciation of Stuart:
Stuart was a remarkable man. He had that great gift of being a sponge for knowledge. Whether it was military, naval or social history, there was rarely a subject that Stuart was not conversant with. He had that amazing talent, too, of inspiring knowledge in others. Seldom was there a time when a question could not be answered, nor a problem not be solved. He was a man of remarkable intellect and his knowledge of the Great War and its many aspects, was profound.
Born in Shropshire, Stuart completed his National Service with the 11th Hussars, the famous ‘Cherry Pickers,' but he remained fiercely territorial of his own country regiment and if left for him to decide who to serve with "it would have been the King's Shropshire Light Infantry!"
It was here that his interest in military history was accelerated. Upon leaving the services and attending university, his chosen profession was that of teaching but this was supplemented with many important volunteer roles that he carried out in his spare time, namely that of an auxiliary fireman and later, a volunteer coastguard.
Whether ‘moonlighting' as an ‘extra' in BBC documentaries such as "The Last Tommy" or engaging with 250 school children at a Branch seminar, Stuart gave his all and never ever disappointed an audience; even to the extent of arriving in full Indian ‘garb' for a branch curry night!
A founder member and stalwart of the Suffolk Branch, Stuart was a great lover of fine malts, never failing to amaze, even when the drink had got the better of his companions! He was, until recently, a regular speaker around the WFA branches. His talks, of which there were well over 30 in number, included such varied subjects as Sniping in France, the Gotha Raids and even the Birth of the Forestry Commission. It was an amazing and ever expanding repertoire.
Stuart was also an Honourary "Khaki Chum," something that he was exceptionally proud of. It was at Stuart's insistence that a uniformed body of Great War soldiers be present each year at The Western Front Association's Ceremony of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London and, until last year, he was still organising, single-handedly, the luncheon that followed the event; a role he had performed since the ceremony was re-instigated in the late 1980s.
Perhaps Stuart's great legacy was in the role of education. He fully realised the need to educate the young as to the true history of the Great War and he ceaslessly endeavoured to ensure that the name of the Great War "Tommy" was never to be used in vain, a cause which he championed until his health regretfully got the better of him.
Stuart was a great teacher, historian and gentleman whose like we shall not see again.
Photograph above, courtesy Roy Backhouse, shows Stuart receiving a WFA Certificate of Appreciation for his work for the WFA, at the lunch following the Cenotaph Ceremony on 11 November 2010.