Wendover Remembers, June 1916

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Jun 1st 2016

On 5 June 1916 Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of War, died when the cruiser HMS Hampshire hit a mine and sank northwest of the Orkney Islands. Kitchener and his staff were on their way to Russia to discuss the progress of the war. The Military Service Act (2) was passed by the British Government making all men aged 18-41 liable for conscription into the armed forces. In Galicia the Russians, under General Brusilov, had a major victory over the Austro-Hungarian army. On the Western Front preparations were made for the Somme offensive including a British artillery bombardment which started on 24 June and lasted one week. The bombardment could be heard across Southern England. In the Middle East the Arabs, aided by British forces under T. E. Lawrence, carried out a successful revolt against the Turks.

Two months before the Arab revolt, in April 1916, a Turkish army had taken the town of Kut in Mesopotamia, now Iraq. 8,000 British and Indian troops were captured and force-marched 500 miles to Aleppo. It was during this brutal march, around 20 June, that a Wendover soldier, Edward Thomas Harding, died of exhaustion and mal-nourishment. Edward Harding, a Regular soldier with the 1st Ox and Bucks, was the son of George Harding of Aylesbury Road. Three Harding brothers were killed in the war.

Harry Langford of Boddington Cottage, Wendover Dean, also died in June 1916.  Harry was the son of Frederick and Rosina Langford and was serving with the 11th Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment. Harry, aged 20, was killed in action in the Bethune sector of the Western Front. The Wendover Magazine reported that: “Everyone liked [Harry]. For some time he was in service at Hampden House, but when war broke out he at once joined the Army”. 

In the Wendover School Log Book, the head teacher, Mr Molineux, recorded a visit from Mr Gomm, previously a teacher at the school. Mr Gomm had been discharged from the Ox and Bucks after a severe wound to his shoulder and was now applying to be a despatch rider in the Royal Engineers.

The saga of the Public Convenience in Back Street continued. Once again the Parish Council was obliged to note that the Convenience had suffered “considerable damage”. Just why this regular vandalism took place was a mystery then, as it is now.

Harry Langford
Harry Langford
Edward Harding
Edward Harding
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