Wendover Remembers, September 1917

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Aug 23rd 2017

The Third Ypres Battle (Passchendaele) continued.  British troops captured Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood with heavy casualties.  Russia declared itself a Republic with Kerensky at its head.  The German Army overwhelmed the Russians at Riga using new stormtrooper tactics.  German aeroplanes bombed London and the South-East of England throughout the month.  Costa Rica broke off its alliance with Germany.

In September 1917 four Wendover men were killed in action.  Benjamin Buckingham, 1st Mate in the Merchant Navy aged 43 drowned in the English Channel on the 4th September when his ship, the SS Bishopstone, was torpedoed whilst on a cargo run from Portsmouth to Le Harve. He had twice survived similar experiences when serving aboard ships sunk by U-boat action. Ben and his wife Kate lived with their young family at ‘Elthorpe’, Nightingale Road.

Jesse Robert Slade of the Ox & Bucks aged 19, the son of Mr and Mrs George Slade of Cold Comfort Farm, died of wounds on 22 September 1917. Jesse nicknamed Dapper, joined the Territorials long before he reached military age and he was for some time retained as a bugler. The Bucks Herald noted in his obituary that Jesse had been employed at the station book-shop and was therefore well-known and much respected in Wendover. His early days in the Church Lads Brigade and enthusiasm for playing the bugle resulted in Jesse qualifying as one of the best buglers in the battalion.

Archibald Bowden, a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery was killed in action on 24th September 1917.  He was the son of Mr & Mrs James Bowden of 6, Old Ford Cottages, Scrubwood, and enlisted in Aylesbury on the 4th September 1915. Before the war he worked for Mr Rance at Bank Farm and, because of his experience with horses, was drafted into the Royal Artillery.

John Marshall, aged 37, Second Lieutenant in the London Regiment (Queens Victoria’s Rifles) was killed in action on September 26th.  On the list drawn up for the 1918 census his address is given as 5, Chiltern Road.

The following appeal for children to gather blackberries was printed in all national and local newspapers.

BLACKBERRIES FOR THE TROOPS. The President of the Board of Agriculture is asking farmers if they will be good enough to let children go and pick blackberries which the Food Production Department of the Board of Agriculture require for making jam for the Navy and Army. It is of great importance that a large quantity of blackberries which have SPECIAL MEDICINAL VALUE, and are important for the health of the troops, should be gathered. It would be wicked to let this fruit drop off the hedges and rot is so serious a time as this. We may say this fruit will go straight into the Government Jam Works from the school, no middle man will handle it. The children to be given certain half holidays per week as the Education Managers and the organiser arrange.’   

The children of Wendover did their bit, sending 100lbs of blackberries on 18th September and 190 lbs the following week. An even more popular appeal was made for children to collect Horse Chestnuts for the manufacture of explosives.

The Wendover Magazine reported the Sunday School Treat which was held at Witchell (by kind permission of Dr Woollerton). ‘The chief event of the day was the tug-of-war championship, won by the first class of girls.’ Other events included flat races, potato races, one-legged races, thread-the-needle races, and a steeple-chase. The children were supplied with as much fruit and lemonade as could be given them, having due regard to their digestions.

Benjamin Buckingham
Benjamin Buckingham
Archie Bowden
Archie Bowden
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