21 March 2009

Alf Webb - a Bedfordshire regular

Since publishing this post about Alf Webb, I have been sent additional information and photographs of him which I have posted here on my Army Ancestry Research blog. My original post follows below:

Alf Webb sent this postcard to his sister in late September or early October 1914. On the reverse it reads:

Dear E

Will you let all of them know that we are moving from here Sunday 4th but don't know where. With love from Alf xxx

21st Brigade
7th Division
2nd Beds Reg, A Coy

and inside the card - the knapsack on the soldier's back - on the back of a series of humorous images, he had written an earlier note:

Dear E

Hope you are quite well as it leaves me. I suppose you are quite busy now aren't you. Give my love to all at Bedford and tell them I will write later, especially Lily as I haven't written to her for a long time but you see we are so busy now, we don't know when we are moving yet but it may be any time now. Hope you will like these views from

Loving brother Alf xxx

The 2nd Bedfords had been in South Africa when Britain went to war with Germany. The battalion was mobilized on the 10th August and embarked for England aboard HMT Kenilworth Castle at Cape Town on the 22nd August. It put into Table Bay the following day and sailed for England on the 27th.

After a short stop at St Helena, the battalion arrived in at Southampton on the 19th September and then moved to Lyndhurst where it joined the 21st Brigade in the 7th Division. As Alf wrote to his sister, the battalion moved in two trains to Southampton on the 4th October, half of the battalion then sailing to France the same day, the other half sailing the following day.

It's doubtful that Alf Webb ever saw his sister again. He was killed in action on the 20th September 1915. Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) notes 10069 Corporal Alfred Webb of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He was born in Clavering, Essex and at the time of his enlistment at Bedford, was living at Newport in Essex.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Alf was 21 years old, the son of Joseph and Susan Harriet Webb, of Wicken Rd, Newport, Essex. He is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery.

Finally, using the information that I posted the other day on army service numbers in the regular battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment we can see that Alf must have joined up between 6th April 1912 and 28th June 1913. Actually, he must have joined up in 1912 because number 10111 was issued on 6th September 1912.

Thanks to his consideration in sending a postcard to his sister in 1914 I am able to commemorate Alfred Webb on this army service numbers blog.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for this. Alf was my great uncle, E would have been Ethel his sister and Lily who he mentions in his postcard was my Gran. he was the only healthy boy in a family with lots of sisters. I have been researching him as my twin daughters are going on a battlefields trip with their school and to find something like this has made it really personal for them.

Paul Nixon said...

Thanks for posting this. I wish I still had the card, and if I did, you would be most welcome to it. Unfortunately though, I parted company with it a couple of years ago. I hope your daughters are able to lay a poppy cross on Alf's grave in Vermelles when they go over there.

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