Wendover Remembers, April 1917

April 1917 was a critical month in the War. President Woodrow Wilson of America addressed both the Senate and the House of Representatives proposing that America should declare war on Germany. His arguments were based on the damaging U-Boat activity, the conspiracy between Germany and Mexico to attack America and the need to help Britain. His rallying cry was: “The world must be made safe for democracy”. Both houses passed Wilson’s resolution and war was declared on Germany on 6 April. In France the Arras offensive began and Vimy Ridge was taken by the Canadians. Fighting in the air was ferocious and in April Britain lost 150 aircraft. At sea German submarines sank more Allied shipping than in any other month of the war.

Among the casualties at sea was Private Thomas Carter of Wendover. Thomas was aged 23 and was the eldest son of the village blacksmith Thomas Carter and his wife Elizabeth. Private Carter served with the Army Service Corps and drowned in the Aegean Sea when the troopship Arcadian was torpedoed on its way to Salonika. Family records say that Tommy was unable to swim. He loved to play the piano and was an enthusiastic pigeon fancier. It was ironic that Tommy’s cousin on a nearby ship, who was not aware that Tommy was on board the Arcadian, witnessed and photographed the sinking. Tommy’s body was recovered and buried on the island of Antiparos. Before the year was over Thomas and Elizabeth Carter lost a second son.

The Bucks Herald of 14 April noted the extremely poor weather. There were large falls of snow over the Easter period and conditions were so bad that the hills around Wendover were deserted. The Parish Council applied to the Lord Lieutenant for a second magistrate in the town: “We beg most respectfully to request the Lord Lieutenant of the county to use his great influence by recommending to be placed upon the Commission of the Peace the name of Frederick William Blake as a reward for the untiring zeal and energy he has displayed in respect to the various interests of this parish during the past 25 years”.

During April there were 47 patients in the Royal Bucks Hospital in Aylesbury – 30 men and 17 women. During the week ending 9 April, 13 in-patients and 10 out-patients were admitted mainly for serious cuts and abrasions. There were two dental cases and seven X-rays.

Mr Nicholas Lee, draper of Wendover, was summoned for “failing to post a list of male persons of military age in his employ”. Lee pleaded that he did not realise that he was required to keep such a list. George Grimsdale of York Buildings, Wendover, was summoned for allowing a dog to stray on the highway without a collar bearing the owner’s name and address. P. S. Bryant stated that he had received a complaint that the dog had killed a fowl. Grimsdale was fined 7s 6d.

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