Wendover Remembers, November 1916

On the Western Front two great battles – at Verdun and on the Somme – ground to a halt. Neither side could claim a victory. In total there were 700,000 casualties at Verdun and 1.1 million casualties on the Somme. In Italy the ninth battle of the Isonzo was launched against the Austro-Hungarians. German aeroplanes and ships bombarded Britain. In America Woodrow Wilson was elected President of the United States on the promise of keeping America out of the war.

On 13 November a Wendover man, Frederick Hampton Bignall of the 2nd Ox and Bucks, was killed at Beaumont Hamel during the final days of the Somme offensive. For many months it was unclear whether Frederick Bignall was alive or dead. The Wendover Magazine of September 1917 reported: “The cheering news is to hand that F. Bignall is not dead, but wounded and a prisoner in a German detention camp. We hope this is true and eagerly await more particulars”. The photograph of Frederick Bignall on this page was printed in the December 1918 Magazine. Even at that date no confirmation as to his death had been received.

Another Wendover soldier, Oliver Rowland of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was killed on 5 November. The Bucks Herald printed a tribute: “Much sympathy will be extended to Mr and Mrs Charles Rowland, of Wyvenho, Perry Road, on the loss of their son, Oliver Rowland, who has been killed in action. He was born in Hammersmith and his parents have resided in Wendover for about seven years, it being Mrs Rowland’s native place. Oliver, who had worked in London, was well known by the neighbours being often down for weekends. He was kind and thoughtful, a great comfort to his parents, with a bright and lively disposition. He was a fine specimen of English manhood, and was aged 27”.

Despite the background of death and war, life in Wendover continued as near normal as possible. Eggs were being sold at 4d each and the price of bread increased to 10d for a 4lb loaf. The circulation of the Wendover Magazine reached 450 copies. An unfortunate accident happened when the milkman’s horse took fright and bolted down the High Street. Sadly the horse broke its fetlock and had to be destroyed

A report of the Petty Sessions on 4 November read: “Wm. Deering of Wendover was summoned under the Poaching Prevention Act for having two rabbits in his possession”. PC Chivers said that “at 8am on November 1st in Ellesborough Road, while in the company of PC Dillow, he saw the defendant on the highway carrying a fish basket which appeared bulky. When asked what he had in the basket, Deering replied “mushrooms”. PC Chivers told Deering that he suspected him of coming from land where he had been unlawfully in search of game. PC Chivers searched Deering and found two rabbits and a “prep” used for setting a snare. Chivers took possession of this and also the two rabbits which Deering claimed he had just picked up. Deering was found guilty and fined 20s or, in default, 14 days imprisonment.

At the same Petty Sessions Mr Fred Cox was summoned for using threatening language likely to cause a breach of the peace. The dispute arose when Sergt Major Mills put Cox’s coffee stall out of bounds to the military. Mr Cox shouted at Sergt Major Mills: “I’ll get my own back with you if I have to wait 20 years”. Later in the day, when Sergt Major Mills passed the coffee shop, Mr Cox shouted: “These are the boys you have done out of a meal, you dirty tyke, go on boys, shout after him”. Four boys began shouting at Sergt Major Mills. The Chairman of the Petty Sessions said that the conduct of Cox had been “very reprehensible and he must pay a fine of £1 or, in default, 14 days imprisonment”.

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