The WEBB family – Lance Sergeant WEBB, Percy Douglas (1892-1915)

Percy Douglas Webb was the eldest son of Arthur Edward Barnard Webb (1859-1927) and Susan “Susie” Louisa Wyatt (1870-1958), who married at St Giles’ church in Northampton in March 1890.  Susie and Arthur had four children – Gladys Irene (1891-1984), Percy Douglas (1892-1915), Phyllis Elsie (1897-1928) and Arthur Raymond “Raymond” (1898-), all born in Wellingborough.  The family remained at Wellingborough, where Arthur kept a draper’s shop on the High Street, until 1900 when they moved to Swadlincote in Derbyshire.  Again, Arthur was a clothier shopkeeper, living above the shop and keeping a servant, but things went badly.  By 1907 Arthur was working as an assistant in someone else’s clothiers business and he had received orders of bankruptcy.  The family lived for at least a year at The Crib, New Street, Lutterworth, with no servant, and by the time they moved to Leicester the family income was supplemented by Susie teaching music.  The house at 72 Tyrrell Street where they lived between 1910 and 1913 had just two bedrooms and they could no longer afford to employ a servant.

Percy was already a private in the Northumberland Fusiliers by 1911, stationed in Yorkshire.  He was part of the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in 1914 and already a Corporal.  On 16th January 1916 Percy disembarked with his battalion in France, by now promoted to Lance Sergeant.  He travelled by train to Belgium and died less than three months later on 8th May 1915, the first day of the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, part of the Second Battle of Ypres.  There was enormous loss of life that day: Trenches were destroyed by enormous shell fire and high explosives and soldiers killed and buried where they fought.

At first no remains of Percy were found.  Over a year later, the Army sent Percy’s effects of £14 9s 9d to his father Arthur.  In 1919 his medals followed, and Percy was commemorated on the memorial to the fallen at Menin Gate, which remembers those with no known grave.  However, during the 1920s Percy’s body was found along with several others in an unmarked grave and identified by his clothes, titles and disc.  It was exhumed and reburied nearby at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery.  Around 1928 the titles and disc were sent to his mother, who was by then living at 27 King’s Newton Street.

Arthur Barnard Webb remained a draper’s assistant in 1914, living at 73 Haddon Street.  He died in 1927 in his native Essex.  Susie died living at 91 Cranbourne Street in 1958.

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