Wendover Remembers, October 1915

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Oct 8th 2015
Children outside Dundee Cottage, Aylesbury Road, circa 1903. Ewart is hiding behind his sister Annie, right.
Children outside Dundee Cottage, Aylesbury Road, circa 1903. Ewart is hiding behind his sister Annie, right.


During October there was much activity in the Balkans area. The Triple Alliance – Germany, Austria and Bulgaria – attacked Serbia and the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, was virtually destroyed. Many Serbian civilians were killed by the occupying troops. An Anglo-French force landed in Salonika in Greece to support Serbia. The Montenegrin frontier was attacked by Austrian troops. On the Western Front fighting continued around Loos. Nurse Edith Cavell was shot by the Germans for helping British prisoners to escape from Belgium into Holland. World opinion was outraged.

It was in October 1915 that Samuel Harding of Wendover enlisted. Samuel was one of the 11 children born to George and Ann Harding of Dundee Cottage, Aylesbury Road - where the Health Centre now stands. In addition, George and Ann adopted Ann’s nephew, Harry Caudrey, who grew up in the Harding household. Four of the 11 children died in infancy and the mother Ann died in 1902, leaving 10 year old Annie to care for the young family. Of the surviving five sons George, the eldest, was the only one not to join the Army. The other four boys served during the war and three of them – Edward, Samuel and Sydney were killed.

The second son, Samuel, was born in 1887 and before the war worked as a Haybinder.  He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery and fought in France and Belgium. Samuel took part in the Passchendaele offensive and it was during the final push to take Passchendaele village that Samuel was wounded. He died of his wounds on 29 November 1917.

Edward, the third son, was a Regular soldier who had joined the 1st Battalion Ox and Bucks Light Infantry in 1907 aged 19. After serving in India the Battalion was transferred in November 1914 to Mesopotamia. The 1st Battalion Ox and Bucks were among the 10,000 British and Indian soldiers who were besieged by the Turks in the town of Kut on the River Tigris. After three failed efforts to relieve Kut the British troops had no option but to surrender. They were ill-treated and force-marched towards captivity in Turkey.  During the last stage of this terrible march , on or about 20 June 1916, Edward Harding died.

Sydney Harding was born in 1894 and joined the 12th Battalion South Wales Borderers. When Sydney was serving at Clery-sur-Somme in France the Battalion Headquarters, in which he was working as an orderly, received a direct hit from an enemy mortar. Sydney was severely wounded and died on 11 March 1917.  The Bucks Advertiser of 24 March reported that “Sincere sorrow has been occasioned amongst his many friends in the district by the news that Pte Harding...has made the supreme sacrifice by giving his life for his country...He was 23 years of age and before the war had been employed as a gardener”. 

The youngest Harding brother, Ewart, after unsuccessfully attempting to join the Army aged 16, eventually enlisted in the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He saw active service in France and Belgium and survived the war, as did his cousin Harry Caudrey who served with the 2/4 Battalion Ox and Bucks. The Harding family had gone beyond the call of duty and paid a great price. Five members had fought in various theatres of the war-Mesopotamia, France and Belgium and three of them had died. The names of Edward, Samuel and Sydney are inscribed on the Wendover War memorial.

With thanks to Graham Pare for his family history and the use of his photographs.

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