Wendover Remembers, November 1917

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

In Russia, Lenin and Trotsky led the Revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power.  A Communist government was formed and one of its main aims was to pull Russia out of the war.  On the Western Front the Third Battle of Ypres ended with the capture of the village of Passchendaele by Canadian troops.  Total casualties of Third Ypres, British and German, amounted to around 520,000.  Also on the Western Front, the Battle of Cambrai began on 20 November.  The British used tanks effectively and made significant gains.  It was regarded as a great victory and church bells were rung in Britain for the first time in the war.  But success was illusory and within days most of the ground gained was lost.

One Wendover man was killed in November.  He was Sergeant Frederick William Pedel, aged 21, of the Royal Bucks Hussars who died of wounds on 16 November 1917. He was the son of Frederick John Pedel, the licensee of the Railway Hotel, and Emily Pedel.  Fred had joined the Bucks Hussars just before his 16th birthday. He was killed near Ramleh (now Ramla) in present day Israel. His elder brother Alfred had been killed in 1915 also at the age of 21. The Bucks Herald published a letter sent to his parents by Fred’s Commanding Officer who wrote ‘You will have heard from the officer commanding your son’s squadron all the details of his death. I write to you as the officer commanding his Regiment to offer you my most sincere sympathy. Sgt. Pedel had distinguished himself by his gallant conduct on November 13 in a charge; he was mortally wounded in a dismount attack on November 15 and died of his wounds on the following day. The loss to the Regiment is a considerable one”.

The Bucks Herald also reported: “Frederick William James Moore of the Ox & Bucks was awarded the Military Medal. He showed enormous courage when recovering a Lewis gun buried in a shell crater, cleaning it and turning it on the enemy, keeping them at bay until the line could be readjusted”. Fred, who lived in the Tring Road, died aged 93 and has a memorial in the churchyard.

In November 1917 the Minister of the Baptist Church the Rev Thomas Joseph Pennell was appointed Chaplain to the Balkan Expeditionary Force and left Wendover for the front where he was attached to the 21st Stationary Hospital, Salonica. The Elders of the Church appealed for friends to rally round and help in the Church’s life and work while the Minister was absent. The Rev Pennell was born in Radnorshire and since coming to Wendover had lived with his wife in The Manse, Bacombe Terrace.

During the war the British Red Cross working with the Order of St John, organised, packed, wrapped and despatched over 2.5 million food parcels to prisoner of war camps abroad. It was arranged that every prisoner would receive an adequate supply of food and clothing. Parcels of food, each weighing about 10 pounds were delivered fortnightly to every prisoner who had been registered. To defray some of the cost of this commitment, groups were urged to adopt a prisoner and undertake the task of raising the money required to send the 2 parcels each month. The Wendover Branch of the Red Cross answered the call and adopted a prisoner of war in Germany. This meant they were responsible for collecting and posting the two guineas a month required by the Food Parcels Depot and Mrs Walter Stevens of Aylesbury Road was happy to take on the task. The POW they adopted was Private Glynn of the 17th Middlesex Regiment who was captured in April 1917. His wife and 6 children lived in Haggerston, East London. The Wendover Magazine announced that money received from the sale of waste paper would in future be handed to Mrs Stevens for the food parcel fund. The Magazine appealed to readers to help in this absolutely essential work and hoped that Wendover might be able to adopt or partially adopt another prisoner.

Fred Pedel of the Royal Bucks Hussars
Fred Pedel of the Royal Bucks Hussars
Annie Stevens (Mrs Walter Stevens). Photo courtesy Caroline Harwood.
Annie Stevens (Mrs Walter Stevens). Photo courtesy Caroline Harwood.
Military Medal
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