Wendover Remembers, January 1917

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Jan 1st 2017

While the winter weather brought a lull in major battles on the Western Front, small attacks and raids by all the belligerents continued unabated.  There was much activity at sea.  On 1 January the Cunard liner Ivernia was sunk in the Mediterranean with 153 losses.  Eight days later, also in the Mediterranean, HMS Cornwallis was sunk by an enemy submarine.  On 23 January the destroyer Simoon was torpedoed.  At the end of the month Berlin announced unrestricted submarine warfare against merchant shipping in an attempt to starve Britain into submission.  British Intelligence intercepted a telegram from the German Foreign Minister, Zimmerman, inciting Mexico to declare war on America. President Wilson and the American public were outraged.   

Trench foot was a significant medical problem especially during winter months.  In the winter of 1914-15 twenty thousand British troops were affected by trench foot which was caused by prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions. The blood vessels in the feet contract in an effort to retain warmth for the rest of the body.  If not treated quickly the loss of blood to the feet leads to gangrene and amputation.  On 18 January Patrick Basil Barlow, aged 32, a Private in the Grenadier Guards, died of blood poisoning after suffering from trench foot.  Patrick was the youngest son of the eminent physician Sir Thomas Barlow who had attended both Queen Victoria and King Edward and who had built Boswells on the outskirts of Wendover.

The Bucks Herald of 13 January reported: “At a meeting of the Wendover Parish Council the Chairman said it was the first time they had had a full attendance for a long period.  He hoped that it was an indication that members meant to turn over a new leaf in that respect.  The Chairman also drew attention to the speed at which motor cars passed through the town, notwithstanding that they had a speed limit of 10 miles per hour.  A local accident had occurred in the town and he thought it was time the attention of the police was called to the matter.”

The Bucks Herald described the accident which happened at the bottom of Tring Road opposite the Clock Tower, stated by one witness to be the most dangerous junction in the whole County.  In Court 19 year-old Ralph James Ladyman of Aylesbury was accused of dangerous driving.  He had been driving for only two weeks and was being taught by Ralph Carter, aged 16, of Carter’s Garage in Wendover High Street.  In evidence Ladyman said that they were taking the car from the station to the camp.  When they came to the Tring Road turn at the Clock Tower he saw an army lorry coming down from the camp.  A man driving a horse and brougham approached from Aylesbury Road.  Ladyman thought that there was no room for him to turn right so he decided to head towards Aylesbury.  At this point Carter grabbed the wheel and turned it causing two soldiers looking in the window of Mr Morgan’s shop [now Brookes] to be mown down and the shop window to be broken.  One of the soldiers was knocked unconscious and spent 2 weeks in hospital.  The defendant was fined £3 or one month in prison.  The opinion of the Court was that owners of motor cars should ensure that their drivers could properly handle their machines.



trench foot poster
Sir Thomas Barlow and his three sons (Patrick back right) by kind permission of Welcome Images.
Sir Thomas Barlow and his three sons (Patrick back right) by kind permission of Welcome Images.
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