Wendover Remembers, August 1915

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Aug 3rd 2015
Bert Deering
Bert Deering

The disastrous Gallipoli Campaign continued. In August alone the Allies lost 40,000 men, mainly Australians and New Zealanders, who attacked at Suvla Bay. On the Western Front there was fierce fighting in the Vosges, Argonne and around Ypres. A Zeppelin raid on the east coast of England left 29 dead and injured. There were battles at sea between the Germans and the Russians off Riga. A German U-boat torpedoed and sank the White Star liner Arabic off the Irish coast with 44 lives lost.


The August edition of the Wendover Magazine reported that: “Bert Deering , an old C.L.B. [Church Lads Brigade] boy, who joined the Royal Fusiliers, has been fighting with his Regiment on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  In a card we have received he announces that he has been badly wounded while charging the Turks, and is in hospital in Malta. He has been getting on well and hopes to be sent home in the next hospital ship”. It was later learnt that Bert Deering had died of wounds.  He was the son of James and Clara Deering of Chandos Alley (now Chandos Close). Sgt Horace Nunn of Aylesbury Road also died of wounds in Gallipoli serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers. Before the war, Horace Nunn had been a well-respected local antiques dealer.


A letter from Pte Arthur Bonham of Addington Cottages, who was with the 1/4th Ox and Bucks L.I. in France, gives a glimpse of life at the Front: “We have not been in the trenches for about a fortnight now, but up till then we had four days in and four days out. It was a fairly quiet part of the line that we were in, though of course at times it was rather warm, such as rapid firing and a few shells flying over, but we soon got used to them. We used to hear at home that the Germans couldn’t shoot, but can’t they?...At present we are billeted in a large village some miles behind the firing line, doing some training and it is very trying as the weather is so hot, but I dare say we shall have it hotter before long. The woods and country back here are looking grand, but as you get nearer the firing line the villages and towns are battered about dreadful, and at some of them there are churches in ruins which at one time must have looked splendid and quite beautiful....It is quite amusing trying to make the French people understand different things we want, but in most shops they are picking up English wonderfully...We all have the same wish as you, that it was all over and we could get back home again.”


On 7 August the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton visited the troops at Halton Camp: “At seven o’clock he celebrated Mass in the lines under cover of a large marquee.  Some 500 soldiers were drawn up on the three sides of a square before the altar and  a large number received Holy Communion. The military authorities recognised the honour and importance of the Bishop’s visit and ordered that ‘the Catholic soldiers of all units be freed from military duties that they might be enabled to attend the different services’.”


The reservoir at Weston Turville was in the news. Despite the rather wet and cool summer, it had become a popular swimming venue. The Wendover  Magazine published a request for a diving board or a platform to prevent the embankment from being eroded. 

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