Wendover Remembers, March 1917

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

By Spring 1917 Russia was poised for revolution.  The Duma, an elected assembly, was rarely allowed to meet and the Zemstvo, local committees of self-government, were banned.  The Tsar, Nicholas II believed that he had been divinely appointed and his extreme autocratic rule was supported by his wife, Alexandra, who discouraged any form of reform.  Moreover, it was widely known that both the Tsar and the Tsarina had fallen under the malignant influence of the mystic monk, Rasputin.  The autocratic rule of Nicholas lost him the support not only  of his Imperial Court, but also of the Army.  The lack of food and equipment led to riots and mutinies during the harsh winter of 1916-17.  On 25 March 200,000 workers rioted in St Petersburg.  Moscow fell into the hands of revolutionaries and Tsar Nicholas abdicated.  These events had a major influence on the future course of the war.

Heavy fighting continued on the Western Front and, in March, two Wendover men were killed in action.  Private Sidney Harding was killed by a trench mortar on 11 March near Clery sur Somme.  Sidney had served in the Army Cyclist Corps, the Royal Engineers and the Machine Gun Corps and had transferred to the South Wales Borderers shortly before his death.  Sidney was the son of the widower George Harding of Aylesbury Road.  By the end of the war George had lost three sons.  Albert Wood of the Worcester Regiment was also killed in March.  He was the younger son of Herbert and Emily Wood of Millers Cottage.  Their elder son, Stewart, had been killed in 1916.

In response to a speech by the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, for the country to become self-supporting in materials required for the war effort, Alfred Rothschild offered his woods at Halton for the benefit of the nation.  The Daily Graphic recorded the thanks of Lloyd George and printed details of the woodlands.  One wood was described as covering 500 acres – mainly beech – and there were also a further 350 acres of beech, larch, spruce and scotch fir.  

Mr Molineux, the Headmaster of Wendover School, wrote to the Bucks Herald complaining about the behaviour of some young footballers.  He said that with most of the senior players were away in khaki, many new junior teams had been formed who lacked the required discipline.  The previous Saturday, Wendover Juniors had played against a visiting team who could hardly say a word without using oaths.  “It was with difficulty that I, as referee, repressed the foul language”.

The Wendover Branch of the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage sent a protest to the Prime Minister complaining that the movement to secure votes for women should not be considered at this time when the Nation’s main concern was the efficient conduct of the war.  The Parish Council discussed the plight of the small businessman away fighting for his country.  Employees were generally cared for by their firm and had a job to return to, but the small trader had no such security.

Sidney Harding. Thanks to Graham Pare for the photo.
Sidney Harding. Thanks to Graham Pare for the photo.
Woods at Halton, courtesy County Record Office.
Woods at Halton, courtesy County Record Office.
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