Comment: Wartime respect – Viscount Wendover of the Royal Horse Guards

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Respect; always an attribute that has to be earned, since ‘chancers’ who hoodwink a naive authority to secure positions often orchestrate their own downfall.

Usually because the subordinates soon hold them in such contempt that they seek to undermine their credibility.

And nowhere is respect for one’s leaders more essential than in the life and death situations found in the military. In fact during WW1 some of the more obnoxious of officers soon met a swift demise on the battlefield, and not through enemy action.

But such occasions were the exception and any study of the period reveals how the courage and leadership of young subalterns, barely fresh from school, and in charge of soldiers many years their elder, were held in high regard by their troops – lions lead by lion cubs.

And one such young officer was Viscount Wendover of the Royal Horse Guards, the only son of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lincolnshire.

In 1914 at a recruiting meeting at High Wycombe the Marquis proudly announced that his son had just graduated from Sandhurst,and pending a commission would soon be going to France. Indeed he did, and leading his men he fell mortally wounded near Ypres, to die from his wounds at Boulogne on May 19, 1915, aged just 20. The following day his plain English oak coffin was brought to England, and having rested at the London town house of the Marquis, at 53, Prince’s Gate, was brought on Saturday, May 22, 1915 from Euston by special train to Woburn Sands.

From there it was taken by motor hearse to Moulsoe, followed in a fleet of motor cars, supplied by Salmons and Sons of Newport Pagnell, by the bereaved relatives, officers of the Royal Horse Guards, and the firing party from the regiment, comprised of men who had served with the deceased in France.

At the entrance to the churchyard the village squad of the Bucks Volunteer Defence Corps, of which the Marquis was Chief Commandant, formed a guard of honour, and with the coffin draped in a Union Jack, and surmounted with the cap of the deceased, and the regimental standard carried at Waterloo, the cortège made its way to the church.

En-route the firing party stood with heads bowed and arms reversed. Apart from many prominent army personnel, many people well known in politics and society were in attendance, as well as many local people and the tenants from Moulsoe and Castlethorpe.

With the village choir leading the hymns the service was full choral, and in the family enclosure at the graveside the committal sentences were offered by the vicar of High Wycombe.

With the burial service at an end the 14 Horse Guardsmen of the firing party then discharged three volleys over the grave, with the trumpeter sounding the Last Post. The vault had been adorned with lilies of the valley grown in the gardens of the Marquis at High Wycombe, and these had been beautifully arranged by the head gardener, Mr G Miles.

Thus was the young officer laid to final rest, the oblong brass plate on his coffin inscribed in plain block letters;

ALBERT EDWARD CHARLES ROBERT

VISCOUNT WENDOVER

Lieutenant Royal Horse Guards,

Born 24th April, 1895,

Fell mortally wounded near Ypres,

Died at Boulogne 19th May, 1915.

AGED 20 YEARS

“Through fire, out of darkness into light.”