Wendover Remembers, June 2017

On the Western Front the Battle of Messines took place in June 1917. Nineteen mines were exploded under the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge and British troops captured the area with relatively few losses. It was hailed as a great victory. The Germans launched their first heavy bomber raid on London and 162 people were killed and over 400 injured. The use by the Germans of Gotha bombers prompted the British Royal family to change their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. A reminder of the world-wide scale of the war came when Brazil revoked her neutrality and seized all German ships within her territorial waters.

Two Wendover men became casualties in June. Corporal Gordon Carter was a regular soldier serving with the Bucks Hussars. He was killed in Egypt a week after his 21st birthday. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Carter of the High Street and before joining up he frequently helped his father in the forge. Sergeant Leonard Wells of the Bedfordshire Regiment was severely wounded in both legs and spent some weeks recuperating in the Sheffield Royal Infirmary where he was visited by his wife Martha and other members of his family who lived on Aylesbury Street. Leonard Wells, who had a leg amputated, eventually arrived home in December 1917. He died in 1975 aged 81.

At the Assize Court Thomas Balshaw of the Royal Flying Corps, stationed at Halton, was found guilty of stealing a motor cycle and chassis, valued at £55 from a Halton colleague, Arthur Jones. Balshaw had been remanded in custody in April 1917, but had escaped from his cell by removing a bar from his cell window. He later contacted Jones and offered to sell the motorcycle back to him. Balshaw was again arrested and it was revealed that he had a Borstal background and been sentenced to eighteen months hard labour in 1916. In total he had stolen property to the value of £627 and he admitted that he had unlawfully taken over 100 motor cycles from all over the country. Balshaw told the court that he was separated from his wife and since then he had been “playing fast and loose” and that he had no object in life. Balshaw had been released from prison in 1916 on condition that he joined the forces. At the Assizes, Balshaw was told that he disgraced the uniform he wore and was sentenced to three years penal servitude.

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