Wendover Remembers, February 1919

By the end of February 1919 almost half of the British Army had been demobilised. This still left some 1.5 million men and women waiting to return to civilian life. The delays involved in the demobilisation process caused unrest and outbreaks of mutiny in many army camps.

A draft covenant of the League of Nations was agreed at the Paris Peace negotiations. On 23 February Benito Mussolini formed the Fascist Party in Italy. British, French and American forces were stationed on the Rhine ready to advance into Germany should the peace discussions with Germany collapse.

In the Wendover School Log Book the Headmaster, Mr Molineux, recorded that his deputy, Lieutenant A G Gomm of the Royal Garrison Artillery, was now demobbed and would return to school duty on March 3rd. He proudly listed Arthur Gomm’s service achievements –‘Enlisted 1 /4 Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 28 August 1914. Wounded (shoulder) 13 June 1915 in France. Discharged 5 June 1916 (after having 12 months in 6 hospitals). Re-enlisted 14 June 1916 Royal Engineers (motor dispatch rider) and sent to France. 10 May 1917 sent home to take up commission with Royal Garrison Artillery and after training posted to 279 Siege Battery, France. Demobilized 31 January 1919. ‘

The School Log Book also noted heavy snow falls and many children absent-‘quite a number with bad chilblains.’

The Bucks Herald 22 Feb carried a note that St Teresa’s which has done useful work for 20 years as a holiday home for girls, is now closed, and the house taken by the Misses Watson and Mudd as a convalescent and rest home for gentlepeople. In addition to providing rest and change for girls, this large house in Dobbins Lane sheltered many Belgian mothers and children during the war years.

Although food supply was improving some old cases of waste were still brought before the court. Two local farmers were prosecuted in February 1919. One, Charles Thomas Adams, farmer, Manor Farm, Aylesbury Road, Wendover, was accused of having between Oct 2 and Jan 3 permitted the waste of wheat contained in ricks on the farm. Mr Wood for the defence put in a medical certificate showing that Mr Adam’s health was such as to render him quite incapable of attending and put in a plea of not guilty. The prosecution case was that: “in August 1917, defendant, carried, in fine weather an average crop of wheat and built two ricks from 20 or 25 acres of land. Those ricks were built 18 months ago, and remained till a fortnight since before they were threshed. On 29 Dec P.S. Bryant visited the defendant’s rick yard and saw two wheat ricks in a very neglected condition. The roofs were caving in and they were overrun with rats. Mr W A Thame, inspector under the Ministry of Food inspected the ricks in January described their damaged condition owing to rain and vermin. He had never seen ricks in a worse condition. About 60 rats were killed during the threshing operation”. The Chairman said the Bench had given the case very careful consideration and were unanimously of the opinion that they must convict, but in view of all the circumstances the penalty they intended to inflict would not be so heavy as it might otherwise have been. Defendant must pay a fine of £20, and £5 costs.

Mr Tapping of Weston Turville was also charge by the committee. In his case the charge was that he had several times refused to plough up pasture land for a wheat crop. John Henry Tapping farmed over 600 acres, including Bedgrove Farm, Weston Turville, where, in August 1917 he had been asked by the Bucks Agricultural Committee to plough and cultivate 50 acres of land for the 1918 harvest. He did not comply and was again requested in January 1918 to plough for winter wheat and once more for the land to be prepared by December 1918. In his defence it was said that Mr Tapping was a man who had done his utmost for the benefit of his country, his two sons had not yet been demobilised from the Army and two of his employees had left him to work at Halton Camp. The Magistrates came to the conclusion that the defendant was guilty, and he must pay a fine of £50.

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