Wendover Remembers, October 1916

October 1916

In France the attritional Battle of the Somme continued into its fourth month. Even at this stage some of the objectives set for the first day of the battle had not been taken. The Battle of Verdun also continued (now in its ninth month) and the French recaptured the strategically important Fort Douaumont. In Italy the eighth Battle of the Isonzo began with some limited Italian successes against the Austro-Hungarians. Germany resumed its U-boat attacks on Allied shipping.

October was one of the few months of 1916 when no Wendover man was killed whilst on active service. The day-to-day Parish activities reflected a community doing its very best to carry on as normally as possible despite the horrific events of the war. Several local cases of careless lighting (Precautions against Air Raids) were heard at the Petty Sessions on 14 October and Charles Caudrey, “an aged defendant”, was summoned for failing to properly obscure the lights in his house in Wendover on 2 October. Caudrey pleaded not guilty, but P C Wareham stated that at 1.30am he saw a light in Caudrey’s upstairs window which had only a thin muslin curtain. P C Wareham roused Caudrey who responded: “I have got a dark blind, but it has fallen down”. Caudrey also said that he had a troublesome baby in the house and he had “lighted a candle to get it a drop of milk. It was a windy night and the dark blind which was put up temporarily fell down”. The Chairman of the Petty Sessions responded that he considered the occurrence a serious offence, but was willing to believe that it was an accident and would impose a fine of 5 shillings. Caudrey reacted: “I shall not pay. You may put me in gaol as long as you like but I shall not pay”. Members of the Parish Council exchanged heated words through the medium of the Bucks Herald. On 7 October the paper printed a report from Cllr F W Blake complaining that only he and Mr Tarry had attended the October Council meeting. As there was not a quorum in attendance they were not able to deal with the business on the Agenda. Mr Blake said that he wished to protest on behalf of Mr Tarry and himself and also in the name of the electorate of Wendover at members of the Council showing such scant courtesy to their colleagues as not to attend. In a reply printed in the following week’s Bucks Herald, the Chairman of the Council expressed his extreme surprise and annoyance at the remarks passed by Mr Blake. He felt that the wisest course was to treat the remarks with the contempt that they deserved, but “as Chairman of the Council and in justice to my colleagues I feel bound to strongly protest. It is sincerely regretted by all those absent that there was not sufficient present to conduct the business of the meeting, but at the same time I nor the members referred to consider ourselves in the slightest degree responsible for our attendance, or otherwise, to either Mr Blake or Mr Tarry, neither do we for an instant recognise their right to criticise our actions”.

Regular readers of the “Wendover Remembers” monthly articles will be well aware of the repeated vandalism reported during 1915 and 1916 of the relatively new Public Convenience in Back Street. In October 1916 this ill-fated Public Convenience was again in the news. “At the Petty Sessions Children’s Court Arthur Simmons and Harry Elliott were summoned for wilful damage of the public lavatory at Wendover on 29 September and pleaded not guilty. George Dancer, of Wendover, in the employ of Wycombe Rural District Council, who have charge of the public lavatory in Back Street, stated that when he attended to it on 29 September the lock was alright. Reginald Fulgate witnessed the two defendants leave the lavatory and noticed that Elliott had a pair of pliers (produced) in his hand. He afterwards saw them in the sweet shop. PC Chivers stated that on examining the lavatory he found the automatic lock had been tampered with in such a way as to enable anyone to extract money from the slot. There was 1s 10d still in the lock chamber. He subsequently saw the two defendants. Simmons said he only had a penny. Elliott admitted having two pence and said that he intended going back for some more. He found the pair of pliers in Elliott’s possession.” The defendants were discharged with a severe Caution by the Chairman.

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