Wendover Remembers, June 2019

The Armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, brought fighting to an end on the Western Front, but it was not until 28 June 1919 that the Treaty of Versailles marked the end of the war with Germany. In addition to the main Versailles Treaty there were to be five other separate peace treaties. The Treaties of St Germain, Neuilly, Trianon, Sevres and Lausanne, concluded between 10 September 1919 and 24 July 1923 marked the peace arrangements with Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey. The harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty caused great resentment in Germany. This, together with the myth, to be fostered by Hitler, that the German army had been “stabbed in the back” by their politicians, sowed the seeds for the Second World War. As the French Marshal Foch said in June 1919: “It is not a peace, it is an armistice for twenty years”.

The Wendover Magazine of July 1919 reported the celebrations to mark the Peace Treaty.

“The signing of Treaty on June 28 did not unduly excite the inhabitants of Wendover either civilian or military. The Government injunctions respecting bonfires were obeyed and as yet no bonfire has been assembled on “Old Knoll.” Mr Hudson has promised practical help with brushwood, etc., when this is done. The Clock Tower bell and the School bell were rattled (we can hardly say rung) at about 8pm; Ted Deering, having lost the art since he left school some ten years ago. The old town was gaily beflagged, and the Rev. E Boultbee, with the Rev. W Williams assisting, conducted a thanksgiving service at the Church at 7pm. The “mafficking” spirit was entirely absent, most people pondered whether another ‘scrap of paper’ had been signed.”

The Wendover Magazine continued: “THE PEACE COMMITTEE June 16, presented a ‘fiasco’ the like of which has not been witnessed in Wendover during this generation. Back in the winter a parish meeting was called, and by it was elected a committee to take steps to organise peace celebrations. It met several times, and its recommendations were accepted by another parish meeting. They were as follows:-

  1. To consider the erection of a Parish Hall, and find the approximate cost, site etc.

  2. To give a dinner to the parishioners who have been or are in H.M. Forces; also a tea, etc. to the children.

  3. To give suitable mementoes to those parishioners who have won decorations.

  4. To erect a suitable memorial to the fallen men of Wendover.

The committee recommended that the cost of Nos 1 and 2 be met by the parish rate on all ratepayers, and No 3 and 4 be met by voluntary subscriptions. They fixed the dinner for July 3rd, and advertised it, though the invitation to it was not very happily worded. To their dismay the parish meeting, called to sanction the actual sum involved, decided that the dinner should be given by voluntary effort, so Dr West vacated the chair to ruminate on the state of affairs amongst the Norfolk Broads. Where are we now? We presume that someone should give us a lead, and little doubt the money would be forthcoming, as at Stoke Mandeville. Not all the soldiers, however, wish for the ‘feed’ as they call it, but we ought to recognise their sacrifices. Perhaps the Parish Council will take the subject up again, for time is short, and most parishes have completed their Peace arrangements.”

In the School Log Book the headmaster, Mr Molineux, gave a more cheerful and business-like programme for the Peace Celebrations on Saturday July 19th: “1pm. Dinner for serving men. 2.30 Children’s sports. 4.30 Children’s tea, also for older people, over 60. 11pm. Bonfire lit.”

Despite the gloomy forecast in the Wendover Magazine the Bucks Herald reported the celebrations as a very happy event.

‘The programme of peace rejoicings arranged for Saturday was carried through with success that reflected credit upon all concerned. The inhabitants honoured the occasion by decorating their residences, and the town presented quite a festive appearance. Mr F J Pedel, as chairman of the Parish Council, was invited to take the initiative in arrangements, and to him and his colleagues on the Council much of the success was due. The dinner to the returned men was the chief event of the day. Catering was entrusted to Mr W Pullein, whose experience in these matters was a guarantee that everything was as it ought to be. Mr Mayne on behalf of the Parish Council, read the following address of welcome to the 160 men who attended the dinner. “To the brave men of the township of Wendover who served in H M Forces, remembering the thousands who sleep in the fields of France and elsewhere, as well as the bereaved, the Parish Council in the name of your fellow-townsmen salute you with warm words of welcome and inexpressible gratitude for the display of flawless courage and devotion but for which this mighty Empire of ours might have been only a memory. As we recall the part you have played there comes to mind the great historic past of our township of which we are justly proud, and it may well be imagined that John Hampden, who represented Wendover in Parliament nearly 300 years ago, looking down at this scene can be heard to say-‘Splendid boys. Most worthily have you followed in the steps of your forebears”. “Representatives of all the services replied to the address. On behalf of the Navy, Captain-Surgeon Max Onslow-Ford, thanked the people of Wendover for their support for the men at sea. Brigadier-General Lionel Smith of the Royal Horse Artillery said how proud he was to be one of the Wendover men fighting for his country and how grateful he was that now the day of peace had come they could look forward to happier times. Lieut-Colonel G S Smith of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force responded on behalf of the Colonial Forces. He referred to the ready manner in which they came forward to help the Mother Country in their time of need. Personally, he had the great honour in 1914 of coming over with the first New Zealand and Australian Force. Corpl. J S Holland represented the Air Force and spoke of the remarkable growth of this branch of the H.M. Forces. Sergt-Major Freeman, in charge of one of the Labour departments at Halton responded as an old soldier, paying tribute to the manner in which the rank and file had carried out their duties, and pleading that in civilian life “the lads” should now have every consideration. At the close of a happy event the men formed up in line and headed by the buglers paraded the streets of Wendover.”

Written by: 36