WORK has begun to bring a war memorial back to its former glory after the elements have taken their toll.

The monument at the top of Coombe Hill near Wendover remembers Buckinghamshire soldiers who fought in the South African Boer War from 1899 to 1902.

Gradual erosion has exposed its footings and the worn marble plaque needs renewing as many of the names are now unreadable.

Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment Martin Tett said: 'This monument is an iconic Buckinghamshire landmark. It's one of the earliest that names ordinary soldiers, and it represented a major step forward by early 20th century society in historical records.

“We want to maintain a good record of the service and sacrifice of these courageous men.'

The War Memorials Trust and parish councils have contributed to the £52,000 refurbishment costs which are being raised by an appeal committee, set up by the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher.

Coombe Hill belongs to the National Trust but the memorial and its site is Buckinghamshire County Council's responsibility.

Mark Bailey, who is leading the refurbishment project which started this week, said: 'The original bronze plaque erected in 1904 was stolen in 1976, and was replaced with marble., We would like to restore the plaque in its original material, with high security fixings.”