Wendover Remembers, April 1915

The Second Battle of Ypres began on 22 April 1915 and the Germans used poison gas for the first time in the war. Only a determined defence by Canadian troops checked the German advance. On 25 April 70,000 British, Australian and French troops landed at Helles and Anzac Cove in Gallipoli in an effort to take Turkey out of the war. Italy entered the war on the side of the Allies. At sea, the British ship the Seven Seas was torpedoed off Beachy Head and the German submarine U-10 sank three British trawlers. Zeppelins bombed East Anglia, Tyneside and some London suburbs. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George, concerned at the ill-effects of alcohol on industrial production, increased the tax on beer and spirits and persuaded King George V and his household to abstain for the duration. It was a gesture ignored by most of the population.

In Wendover the Holland Brewery in the High Street advertised its price list stating that “These prices do not include the additional War Tax”. Ale XXX cost 2d a pint and the strong Double Stout 2 1/2 d a pint. Wendover’s fifteen public houses thrived.

By April 1915 work to improve the amenities at Halton Camp was nearing completion. In the early months of the war, particularly during the winter of 1914-15, the camp area had suffered from flooding and lack of catering and hygiene facilities and these led to the spread of infection and desertion. As a result, soldiers were billeted out to homes in the area and many were found accommodation in Wendover. The tents at Halton were replaced by wooden huts and a newspaper report in April described the movement of troops back to the Camp and the great preparations for their return. A new road, now Forest Close, was constructed from the Station to Dobbins Lane to ease the movement of troops. Now that trench warfare was established on the Western Front the training of soldiers included the design and construction of trenches and these are still in evidence in the Halton grounds.

Sailors were not forgotten and Mrs C.S. Routh, of the Manor House, organised the collection of fruit and vegetables, many gathered by school children, and these were sent to the Fleet. The German U-boat activity and the loss of British merchant ships placed great emphasis on the local production of food. Mr Charles Adams of Manor Farm relinquished his lease on a piece of land in Tring Road to provide an extra garden area for the school. The entry in the School Log Book for 12 April 1915 stated : “ Work started and continued more or less each day on the new garden”. Fourteen girls and fourteen boys were each allocated a plot of land to produce vegetables and much of their produce went to the war effort.

The soldiers from the Camp swelled the population of Wendover. Mr E. Sanders of Vine Tree Dairy was hard pressed to supply the required quantities of milk and advertised for additional milk to be brought to Wendover Station. There was full employment and an increasing demand for houses for rent. The war had brought considerable prosperity to the town.

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