Wendover Remembers, February 1915

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Feb 14th 2015
Private Alfred John Pedel
Private Alfred John Pedel


On 4 February, Germany announced unrestricted submarine warfare in British waters and, from 18 February, imposed a blockade.  Neutral ships entering British waters or carrying provisions to Britain did so at their own risk.  On 19 February the Norwegian SS Belridge was torpedoed in the English Channel.  The United States, then a neutral country, suffered its first shipping loss when the William P. Frye , carrying wheat to England, was sunk by a German cruiser in the South Atlantic. German aircraft bombed Colchester and British naval aircraft attacked the German-held ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend. The first Canadian soldiers landed in France.  Continuous fighting took place on both the Western and the Eastern Fronts. 

It was during the February fighting on the Western Front that Wendover suffered its third fatality of the war.  Private Alfred John Pedel, the eldest son of Frederick John and Emily Pedel of the Railway Hotel, died of wounds near St. Eloi on 15 February.  Alfred had attended school in Wendover and Bristol and then found work with the Railway Clearing House in Euston Road, London.  He was a keen sportsman and was a member of the Wendover Bowls Club, where he won the Challenge Cup, and also played for the Football, Shooting and Cricket Clubs.  On 1 September 1914 Alfred joined the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and, after spending Christmas on leave in Wendover, was sent with his battalion to France.  His first day in the trenches was also his 21st birthday.  Tragically, Mr and Mrs Pedel lost their second son, Sergeant Frederick William Pedel, in December 1917 when he was serving with the Royal Bucks Hussars in Palestine

The original name of the Railway Hotel was The Shoulder of Mutton, but shortly after Mr Pedel became the licensee in 1900 he changed the name to The Railway Hotel.  In 1958 the name reverted to The Shoulder of Mutton.  During the years of the First World War Mr Pedel was not only the licensee of the Railway Hotel, he was also a Wendover Parish Councillor and became its Chairman.

In February 1915, despite the war, the Parish Council carried out its duties with quiet efficiency. Water from the Brook, owned by the Grand Junction Canal Company, had flooded the Church Path [Heron Path] and the Parish Council negotiated with the Canal Company to lay new 9 inch pipes and “repair the path in a proper and satisfactory manner”.

Following a complaint from the RSPCA, Councillors Pedel and Wood had to deal with the problem of the dirty horse trough in front of the Clock Tower. A series of broken gas lamps and defective burners were reported to the Secretary of the Gas Company. The photograph of the Clock Tower, taken during the First World War, shows the horse trough and part of the troops’ refreshment stall erected on the pavement in front of the trough.  In February the Chairman of the Parish Council announced that he had “a question of importance and urgency” that needed immediate attention.  The resolution put forward was that “The Rural District Council be asked to call a meeting...without delay to consider the question of providing a public convenience for the Town”.  Many letters had been received “calling for the attention of the Council to the urgent necessity of such a provision” particularly because of the large number of troops in the area.  The resolution was carried.

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