Wendover Remembers, September 1916

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

September 1916

On the Western Front, the Battle of Verdun entered its eighth month. On the Somme there were some important, though costly, gains for the British army at Guillemont, Morval and Thiepval. The first tank battle took place at Flers- Courcelette and helped an advance along a six-mile front. The German High Command changed their strategy of offence in France to one of defence in depth. They began work on the Hindenburg Line. The first German airship was shot down over Britain. As a result of the 1916 Military Service (Conscription) Act, a number of Tribunals were set up to decide whether appeals to be exempt from military service were valid.

An article in the September 1916 edition of the Wendover Magazine clearly illustrated the effect of conscription and the military tribunals; “Mr Carter has closed his forge.  We had the shock of our lives when we visited him one morning to find the word ‘Closed’ written in large chalk letters across the forge door. We thought he was simply taking a holiday, but he stoutly denied such intention. As a matter of fact the Tribunal – a court composed of earthly persons, and therefore liable to err – had taken his son, refusing his appeal for him, and thereby leaving him without an assistant, Now, it takes two men to make a horseshoe.  Apparently the Tribunal imagined Mr Carter could easily get an assistant over military age. In this they made a mistake. Shoeing smiths are as rare these days as blackberries in December, and unable to get one Mr Carter was compelled to close his forge...Remembering the very feeble appeals on the grounds of business hardship that have been accepted – remembering that Mr Carter had two sons already fighting and was himself an old soldier, we think that the Tribunal acted rather hardly. At any rate the Forge is closed and the very oldest place of business in Wendover will no longer resound with the roar of the bellows and the ring of the hammer and anvil”. Sadly, Thomas and Gordon, the elder sons of Mr Carter were both killed in 1917. It is interesting that another article in the same Wendover Magazine has the comment: “Wendover bell-ringers now lack a leader, for Mr G Birch is with the Ox and Bucks. He, like an Englishman, made no appeal to Tribunals”.Three Wendover men were killed in September 1916. Lt Col Hugo Beaumont Burnaby lived at Home Farm, Wendover Dean. He was a member of the firm Burnaby, Smith and Marryat of Rocket Game Farm and was also the Secretary of Ellesborough Golf Club. Hugo Burnaby had previously ranched in British Columbia and had taken part in the South African War during which he was awarded the D S O. Lt Col Burnaby was serving with the Queen’s (West Surrey) Regiment when he met his death on 8 September.

Percy John Ingram was a Regular soldier who had served with the Royal Horse Artillery for six years before the war. He had attended Wendover School and had worked as a cricket ball maker as well as a garage engineer. Cpl Ingram’s officer wrote to Percy’s father: “I was standing just outside your son’s gunpit when it was hit by a shell   He did not seem in great pain and was quite conscious...he was a very gallant soldier. I can say nothing better of any man”. Percy died of wounds on 16 September at Heilly in France.

On 28 September, Pte Richard Hicks, aged 18, died of wounds in France serving with the Bedfordshire Regiment. Richard was the son of Mr and Mrs Hicks of Peacock Lodge.  The Wendover Magazine commented: “Dick was a born Scout and last summer he with some companions performed a daring bit of scouting which won the high commendation of his captain. His elder brother, Jack, is still in France with the Ox and Bucks and has been wounded we understand”.

Corporal Percy Ingram
Private Richard Hicks
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