Wendover Remembers, May 1917

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

Following their disastrous April offensive in the Champagne area the French army was exhausted and demoralised and the troops became mutinous.  The French Commander, Nivelle, was replaced by Petain.  The Italians fought the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo without success.  At sea the British transport ship Arcadian was torpedoed by a German submarine losing 277 sailors.  The United States introduced a Conscription Bill and the first US troops, led by General Pershing, landed in France.  A major British attack near Arras captured Fresnoy.

It was during the attack at Fresnoy that a local soldier, Thomas Parkins was killed in action.  Tom Parkins, aged 33, was serving with the Gloucester Regiment.  He was born in Ellesborough, the son of Joshua and Sarah Parkins, and he and his wife, Florence, and their young family were living in Great Missenden.  Two other local soldiers died in May.  Arthur Johnson, 30, of the Suffolk Regiment, was killed on 12 May near Monchy.  He is commemorated on his sister’s grave in Wendover churchyard.  Arthur Spittles was the son of Mrs Spittles who lived on London Road.  Arthur enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in September 1915, but was discharged in June 1916.  Just before enlisting Arthur had a tobogganing accident on the Wendover hills and fractured his tibia which gradually developed osteo-sarcoma.  Eventually, Arthur was obliged to have a leg amputated.  He died on 9 May and is buried in the Wendover churchyard.  All three men have their names engraved on the Wendover War Memorial.   

The Bucks Herald reported “A Shocking Fatality at Wendover”.  It concerned one John Hussey of Hughenden who was a steam-roller flagman employed by the Wycombe District Council.  At the enquiry, held in the Wendover Parish Room, Harry Witney of Cold Harbour gave the following account.  He and Hussey were walking by the side of the steam roller near Ivy Cottage.  Hussey walked in front of the roller and the roller caught his right heel.  This caused him to fall and the roller passed over him.  Hussey was crushed “in a terrible manner”.  The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and the driver was exonerated.  

During May several cases of minor crimes came before the Petty Sessions Court.  Two of the culprits were wives of air-mechanics stationed at Halton.  Both admitted shop-lifting.  Mary Davis Jacobs of London was charged with stealing a tin of salmon valued at one shilling from the shop of Mrs Ellen Turner and four fountain pens from Mr Lee’s shop in the High Street.  Millie Muscovitch was found guilty of stealing three pieces of Arcadia china also from Mr Lee.  The Chairman took a lenient view of both cases because of previous good character and they were fined £2 on each charge.

Miss Isobel Fry took over Mayertorne Manor, near Wendover Dean, and opened a school for boys and girls.  Apart from normal school lessons there were practical activities.  The school had a farm with pigs, poultry and a small herd of cows and the children spent half their time learning to milk the cows and make butter and they also worked on the kitchen garden growing vegetables.  Rabbits were reared for sale.  Miss Fry said that “the children like the life immensely”.

Mayertorne Manor, near Wendover Dean
Mayertorne Manor, near Wendover Dean
Arthur Johnson
Arthur Johnson
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