Wendover Remembers, March 1916

The war continued into its twentieth month with fighting on land and sea. Germany once again declared “unlimited” submarine warfare to break Britain by starving her of food. Shortly afterwards, the French cross-channel steamer, the Sussex, was sunk by a German submarine. Fifty lives were lost. There were many Americans on board, and although none were killed, America strongly condemned this atrocity. On land, Germany failed to make a breakthrough at Verdun, but there were heavy casualties on both sides. On the Italian Front the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo lasted through March without a significant outcome. Heavy fighting was reported from German East Africa where British-led troops were commanded by the South African General Smuts. There was no pause in the fighting in the British sector of the Western Front, particularly around Ypres.

On 18 March 1916 Private Thomas Wells of the Grenadier Guards was killed near Ypres. The Wendover Magazine reported: “As we go to press we learn that another Wendover man has laid down his life for his country. Private T. Wells, the son of Mr John Wells of Dean Cottage, was killed in action. He is the eighth Wendover hero to be killed in the war. Private Wells was only 21 years of age and had been a long time at the front”.

Various local matters were reported in the Bucks Herald. At the Aylesbury Petty Sessions Henry Fantham, carter of Tring Road, Wendover, was summoned by Arthur Smith of 4, Clay Lane, for assault. Smith then applied to have the summons withdrawn. The Chairman, Dr West, said that the parties were neighbours and that they should try and live peaceably together. “Shake hands, don’t quarrel again, and advise your wives not to talk too much”. The application was granted.

An article in the Bucks Herald of 11 March, headed “Bird Pests”, called attention to the loss of crops to the increasing bird population. The writer said that: “the Ground Game Act enabled farmers to keep down rabbits, but there were other more serious pests which were fostered by the desire to preserve game. There are countless hordes of rooks, pigeons, larks, finches, sparrows, etc., and the damage they do to the crops, especially at seed time is incalculable”. The writer suggested that the problem could be effectively dealt with “by wholesale poison if it were not a criminal offence because of the harm to game birds”. The following week, a farmer, Mr Charles Adams, of Manor Farm, Aylesbury Road, wrote to the editor of the Herald: “Dear Sir, I was shocked to see the wholesale poisoning of birds advocated in your last week’s paper. If you will allow me space in your valuable paper, I will give facts, based on 40 years’ experience, as to what are bird pests and what are not. …I express my entire satisfaction that poisoning birds is a criminal offence, so long as there are individuals still existing who would resort to such wanton cruelty. What would the landscape be without the beautiful bird life?”

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