Service No. 5768
Gunner, Royal Field Artillery, 45th Bty
Died on 6 April 1916
Remembered at Dickebusch New Military Cemetery, Belgium
Chris Burge writes:
Gilbert Roland Webb was born in Bristol in 1893, the first child of Francis James and Emily Charlotte Webb. Gilbert was baptised on 1 March 1893 at St Clement’s Church, Bristol. By the time of the 1901 census, Gilbert the was oldest of four siblings. His father worked on print machines. By the time of the 1911 census, Francis James Webb had brought his family to London and was living in Lambeth. When Gilbert’s father completed his census return, the household consisted of Francis James Webb, 44 ; Emily Charlotte Webb, 41; Frederick George Webb, 17; William Edward Webb, 15; Lilian Emily Webb, 13; Frances May Webb, 11; Arthur Frank Webb, 8; Albert Joseph Webb, 6; Ernest James Webb, 4; Thomas John Webb, 2; and baby Emily Charlotte Webb, 1. In 25 years of marriage, Gilbert’s mother had borne 15 children, with 10 surviving infancy. The family of 11 were living in six rooms at 3 Wheatsheaf Lane, a subdivided property housing 11 other people at 3a Wheatsheaf Lane, close to the Mission Hall, the Wheatsheaf Public House and Wyvil School.
Gilbert was not in Lambeth in 1911 as he was by now a serving soldier, a gunner in the 133rd Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, counted on census day as in barracks at Ewshot near Farnham, Hampshire. Mobilised at the beginning of the war, Gunner Webb was part of the 45th Battery of the 42nd Brigade RFA attached to the 3rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) which landed in France on 18 August 1914. Gilbert Webb’s battery supported all the 3rd Division’s actions in 1914, at Mons, on the Marne and on the Aisne and was present in the Ypres salient in 1915. In late March and early April 1916 the six 18-pounder guns of Gilbert Webb’s battery fired in support of operations at the St Eloi Craters, a nasty place, three miles south of Ypres where there had been much mining and counter-mining activity. The explosion of three large mines by the British on 27 March led to a gruesome struggle for control of the craters. The 42nd Brigade had fired 11,063 rounds in the week prior to 2 April. As the British barrage continued, the batteries near the Dickebusch Road and Lake were badly hit by counter-battery fire, including gas shells, on 6 April 1916. Gunner Gilbert Webb died of his wounds on this day.
Members of the the Webb family were living at 2 Horace Street, off Wilcox Road at the end of the war and up to 1925. Gilbert’s mother had died at the beginning of 1914 in Kent, aged 43. Gilbert’s father Francis James Webb passed away in Lambeth in 1934, aged 67.