Wendover Remembers, January 1915

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Jan 1st 2015
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On 19 January 1915 Germany made its first Zeppelin raid on Britain.  Bombs were dropped on King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth and five people were killed.  War at sea gathered momentum.  German submarines sank the British SS Durward off the coast of Holland and four British merchant ships were sunk off the Lancashire coast.  A naval battle took place off the Dogger Bank and both the British and the German fleets claimed a victory.  On land, Russia had several battles against Turkish troops and heavy fighting continued on the Western Front.

Wendover was not without incident.  Mr F. J. Mead, recently employed by the Parish Council as an assistant overseer, had falsified the rate collection accounts using “two rate receipt books” one of which was “fictitious”.  By collecting, but not recording, a number of rates, Mr Mead had absconded with a sum of £873. 9.1.  The Parish Council noted that Mr Mead’s  “whereabouts are not known”.

The Wendover Parish Magazine recorded the death of Mr F. How a well-known local butcher whose family had traded on the High Street for over 100 years.  Mr How died “as the result of his devotion to his duty as a special constable.  Though far from well, he declined to warn the sergeant of the squad that he was not fit for duty, and in order that he might do his full share of special constabulary work he performed the long patrol to Wendover Dean on a very wild and wet night.  As a result he caught a severe chill from which he never properly recovered.  He passed away in his sleep”.

Mr How was one of Wendover’s  thirty-five special constables.  Each “Special” was issued with a night stick, whistle, badge, armband and warrant card.  In addition to patrolling the village they were instructed to phone the War Office in London if they observed any aircraft.  They were to report on the approximate speed and the direction in which the aircraft was travelling.  Should Wendover be invaded the “Specials” had various duties to remove or destroy anything that might be of use to the enemy.  They were to remove cattle and horses and slaughter those that had to be left behind.  All motor cars and  cycles were to be removed or destroyed and food and fodder were to be burned.  Petrol and oil were to be run to waste.  Tools and any explosives were also to be destroyed.

Major changes were taking place at Halton Camp.  The  Bucks Herald of 23 January  reported: “ Leaving Wendover one immediately gains some idea of the magnitude of the work...Extending over 200 acres of the estate are buildings of every description.  The tents have all been removed, in their stead huts are being erected...At the turn to Halton village is a large building containing the electric light plant and other buildings house the headquarters staff and the post office; whilst a few yards further along in the direction of Wendover is a theatre in which a variety entertainments and a cinematograph show will enable troops to pass away their leisure hours pleasantly...What the future has in store for Halton is problematical...a fervent hope is cherished that eventually Halton will once again be restored to its pristine beauty and attractiveness”. 

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