Service no. 651657
Serjeant, London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles), 21st Battalion
Died of wounds on 31 August 1918, aged 35
CWGC: “Son of James and Mary Jane Webb, of 22, Kendoa Rd., Clapham, London. Native of Stockwell, London.”
Remembered at St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France and St Andrew’s Church, Landor Road, London SW9
British Army WWI Service Records 1914-1920
The Army was evidently impressed by draper Arthur Webb. Shortly after he presented himself at the London Regiment’s Camberwell recruiting office in June 1915 he started on a trajectory through the ranks. Exactly a month later, he was appointed paid Lance Corporal. By the end of July he was Corporal, by October Lance Serjeant, and before he was posted to France he was Acting Serjeant. By January 1917 he was Serjeant.
Webb’s conduct was excellent – but not perfect. There was one black mark against his name: for being late for company parade some time in May 1917, for which he was reprimanded.
It was all over on 31 August 1918, when Webb died of a gunshot wound to the neck, “penetrating the spine” as noted in his file.
What else do we know about Webb? Physically, he was short (or rather, not tall) and not well built. He stood 5 feet 4½inches, with a 36½ inch chest (plus 2½ inches). He weighed 8 stone 10 pounds. He left a collection of effects, all forwarded to his mother, including the usual photos, letters, discs, pipe and notebook, but also two pairs of glasses, a watch and chain and, a small surprise, a rosary in a tin box. We have plenty of evidence that Webb was an Anglican: his documents state it clearly, he is remembered on the memorial plaque at St Andrew’s, Landor Road and he lived in a Church institute with his mother, he may nevertheless have been “High Church” enough to find comfort in the use of a rosary. Or it may have merely been his good luck charm in a world in which every iota of luck was worth keeping beside you.
Information from the 1911 census
Arthur Webb, 27 in 1911, worked as a commercial clerk. One of six children, he lived with three siblings, two boarders and his widowed mother, Mary Jane Webb, 51, the caretaker at 57 Stockwell Road, a “preventive home” for girls, dedicated to training girls for domestic service. The property had 14 rooms, most probably not for habitation. The siblings were Henry James Webb, 30, an insurance clerk; Florence Webb, 23, no occupation; Alfred Webb, 21, an insurance clerk. The two boarders were Church of England ministers: John Smith, 24, single, from Hackney, and Harry Thomas James, 25, from Penarth in Glamorgan.