Lieutenant Henry Webber Prince of Wales Volunteers

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by liverpool annie, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    *Lieutenant, 7th Battalion Prince of Wales's Volunteers (South Lancashire Regiment).

    Died of wounds 21st July 1916. Aged 67. Son of William Webber, M.D., and Eliza Webber (nee Preston) - husband of the late Emily Webber (nee Morris). Native of Horley, Surrey. For over 40 years a member of the London Stock Exchange. Henry Webber is the oldest known battle death recorded for the First World War. Mentioned in Despatches. Buried in DARTMOOR CEMETERY, BECORDEL-BECOURT, Somme, France. Plot I. Row E. Grave 54. Member of the Exchange.

    He was born in 1849 the son of Dr William Webber of Norwich and Tunbridge Wells. He was educated at Tonbridge School where he was in the cricket eleven in 1865-7 and at Pembroke College Oxford where he achieved a BA in 1871.

    In 1872 he joined the Stock Exchange and became a member of the firm of Norman Morris and Co and 1874 he married the eldest daughter of Mr Norman Morris of Lingfield in Surrey who was one of the firm's senior partners.

    He was a well known sportsman, a prominent member of the Surrey Stag Hunt, a good shot and a keen cricketer. He played cricket for the "Icogniti" (his old boys side) and captained a MCC side against his old school. When he was 55 he scored 200 for his old village side Horley.

    He was a JP for Surrey, an original member of the Surrey County Council, honorary treasurer of the local Cottage Hospital and a church warden of the parish church.

    On the outbreak of war he offered his services to the War Office as a "rough rider" or in any other capacity. Rejected he tried very hard to form a mounted company of hunting men, which was also rejected so he set off to get a commission.

    Shortly before his 68th birthday he was gazetted on the 1st of May 1916 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment and after a short period of training at Park Royal was appointed Transport Officer and left for France.

    With his battalion he took part in the opening phases of the Somme including the capture of La Boiselle on the 3rd of July. Two weeks later, on the 17th of July he wrote to a friend:

    "Fifty one years ago I got my colours in the XI and last week 51 years ago was bowling against the old boys and looking on some of them as "sitters" and in the "sere and yellow leaf". Yet here I am a Lieutenant in HM army having to salute three sons if I meet them out here, a Colonel and two Majors. I am 1st Line Transport Officer to this Battalion and we have been plumb in the centre of the picture during the last ten days and gained no end of "kudos" and also a very severe mauling. I am so far extraordinarily fit and well, though, when I tell you that for four consecutive days I was either on my feet or in the saddle for twenty one hours, out of twenty four, you will see that there is a bit of work attached to the job."

    Four days later, before the letter was received, he was dead. He had taken rations up for his battalion and was talking to his CO at Battalion HQ in Mametz Wood when he was struck by a shell fragment. He was taken to the advanced dressing staion, and still unconcious was taken to the nearest Field Hospital where he died on the same evening, the 21st of July.

    His Commanding Officer wrote "He was so gallant and full of energy. We all had the greatest admiration and respect for him."

    He was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's despatches of the 4th of January 1917.

    His three serving sons were Lt Col N.W. Webber DSO RE, Maj H.H. Webber RGA and Major LM Webber RFA. He left a widow and eight children.

    Extract from the Stock Exchange Memorial Book -

    LIEUTENANT HENRY WEBBER, South Lancashire Regiment, the youngest son of the late Dr. William Webber, of Norwich and Tunbridge Wells, was born in 1849 and educated at Tonbridge, where he was in the cricket eleven in 1865-6-7, and Pembroke College, Oxford.

    He graduated in 1871, and three years later married the eldest daughter of Mr. Norman Morris of Lingfield, Surrey. When he entered the Stock Exchange in 1872, he became a member of his father-in-law's firm, Norman Morris and Co.

    Henry Webber was a well-known sportsman, a prominent member of the Surrey Stag Hunt, a good shot and a keen cricketer. For many decades he was a familiar figure to the boys of his old school, playing for the Incogniti or the "Old Boys" and often captaining an M.C.C. side against the School. When he was 55 he scored over 200 playing for his local club, Honey.

    Nor did he confine his activities to sport. He was a J.P. for Surrey, an original member of the Surrey County Council, honorary treasurer of the local Cottage Hospital, and for many years a churchwarden of the parish church. On the outbreak of war he naturally took a prominent part in the recruiting campaign. But this was not enough. He had already offered his services to the War Office as a rough-rider "or in any other capacity." Rejected by the War Office, he tried very hard with others to form a mounted company of hunting men. Again baffled by the War Office he set to work to get a commission.

    He was within a few weeks of celebrating his 68th birthday when he was at length gazetted on 1 May 1916 to the South Lancashire Regiment, "victorious after a strenuous fight with the WO.," as he himself expressed it. Thanks to his knowledge of horses he was appointed Transport Officer to the 7th Battalion, when at the end of May, after a short training at Park Royal, he proceeded to France.

    With his Battalion he took part in the opening phases of the first Battle of the Somme, including the capture of La Boisselle on 3 July 1916. A fortnight later be wrote in a letter to his old school.

    "Fifty-one years ago I got my colours in the XI and last week 51 years ago was bowling v. the Old Boys and looking on some of them as 'sitters' and in the 'sere and yellow leaf.' And here I am a Lieutenant in H.M. Army having to salute three sons if I meet them out here, a Colonel and two Majors. I am 1st Line Transport Officer to this Battalion and we have been plumb in the centre of the picture during the last ten days and gained no end of 'kudos' and also a very severe mauling. I am so far extraordinarily fit and well, though, when I tell you that for four consecutive days I was either on my feet or in the saddle for twenty-one hours out of the twenty-four, you will see that there is a bit of work attached to the job."

    Four days later, before this letter was received, he was already dead. He had taken up the rations for his battalion and was talking to his Commanding Officer at Battalion H.Q. in Mametz Wood, when he was struck on the head by a fragment of shell. He was attended to at the advanced dressing station, and taken, still unconscious, to the nearest Field Hospital.

    Here he died, the same evening, on 21 July 1916, without regaining consciousness. He was buried in Dartmoor Cemetery at B├ęcourt-Becordel, just south of Albert. His Commanding Officer wrote: "He was so gallant and full of energy. We all had the greatest admiration and respect for him."

    Special messages of sympathy were received by his family from their Majesties the King and Queen and from the Army Council. Lieutenant Henry Webber was mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig on 4 January 1917.
     

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  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    According to the Ich Dien ( The history of the POWV )

    * Lieutenant Webber who was killed on this occasion - was probably the oldest subaltern serving in the line. He was between 65 - 70 years of age and an ex - Master of the Old Surrey and Burstow
     
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

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