Wendover Remembers, April 1918

Val Moir and Mike Senior  |  Published: Apr 1st 2018

April 1918 was a very eventful month on the Western Front.  The Germans resumed their all-out Kaiserschlacht offensive by launching an attack on the British sector on the River Lys towards Armentieres and La Bassee.  The German troops made significant advances, but were held just in front of Hazebrouck.  As a result of the German gains during March and April the Allies decided to appoint the French General Foch as the commander of all allied forces. The German air ace, Baron Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron, was shot down and killed.   On 1 April the Royal Air Force was formed from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. 

Two Wendover men became casualties during April.  Lance Corporal Thomas Bishop of the 2/4 Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry died of wounds in France on 15 April 1918. Thomas was born in Weston Turville the son of Thomas and Laura Bishop. In the 1911 census he was living in Clay Lane Wendover with wife Esther and children. His occupation was listed as domestic gardener. The Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News of April 27 1918 reported “Mrs Thomas Bishop of Tring Road Wendover has received official intimation that her husband has died of wounds in France. The deceased soldier who was 37 years of age joined up about two years ago. Much sympathy is felt with Mrs Bishop and her three little ones.”

A notice in the Bucks Herald reported that Private Arthur Philbey of the Lancers had been wounded. “His many friends in Wendover and the district will regret to learn that Arthur Philbey, son of Mr and Mrs Philbey of Pound-street, has been seriously wounded in action and has had to have the right arm amputated. His parents have been to Weymouth Hospital to see him, and found him to be as well as could be expected, being very bright and cheerful.”

Wendover was shocked to learn of the tragic death of a young Australian airman based at Halton.  Air Mechanic Stanley Marsden of the Australian Flying Corps committed suicide on the railway line near Bacombe Bridge on the night of 5th April 1918. At the inquest held at the King  & Queen the following day Stanley was described as a pleasant but very quiet young man who had never been far from home before his posting to Halton. Links with home and his mother were very important to him. His father had committed suicide in 1917.  A witness said: “Since he had been at Halton he had frequently spoken to the deceased who had complained that he had not received any mail from home. He seemed very much depressed about it, and it worried him very much”. The jury found that deceased committed suicide during temporary insanity. The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) issued a report of the burial for the next of kin “The deceased soldier was accorded a Military Funeral. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack Flag. Bugler and Pallbearer were supplied by the A.I.F. stationed at Wendover. A party of A.F.C. [Australian Flying Corps] members under the command of Lieuts. Frask, G. N. and MacDougall D. A. followed the remains to the cemetery. Prior to the interment a service was held in the Parish Church (St Mary’s) by the Rev.E. F. Odling. The grave will be turfed and an oak cross erected by the A.I.F. London.” Air Mechanic Marsden’s mother had a memorial to her son placed in May’s Hill Cemetery, Parramatta, New South Wales.

On 16th April Mr Molineux, the headmaster of Wendover School, wrote in the log-book: ‘Deep snow-only 100 children (and 20 Infants) appeared. Register not marked & no “school” in the afternoon.’ There were 206 children on the school register.  On the 23rd of April he wrote ‘St George’s Day- Special lessons on day and on Shakespeare. Flag hoisted.

Airman Stanley Marsden of the Australian Imperial Force. Photograph by permission of Australian War Memorial.
Airman Stanley Marsden of the Australian Imperial Force. Photograph by permission of Australian War Memorial.
Stanley Marsden's grave in St Mary's churchyard, Wendover, courtesy V Moir
Stanley Marsden's grave in St Mary's churchyard, Wendover, courtesy V Moir
Memorial to Private Marsden in Parramatta, N S W. Photograph by permission of Australian War Memorial.
Memorial to Private Marsden in Parramatta, N S W. Photograph by permission of Australian War Memorial.
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