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  • John Willaim Webster
Person Details
Nottingham
He was the only son of William and Jane Maria Webster (nee Bosworth), who were married in 1884, and who also had five daughters. According to the information William provided in the 1911 Census, he and his wife had had seven children born living of whom only six were still living: John, Mary, Laura Ada, Lucy, Kate and Dorothy. In 1891 William (34) and Jane (34) were living at 8 Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham, with their three children, John William (5), Mary (4) and Laura Ada (2). They were still living at the same address ten years later; John and Ada (Laura Ada) and three more daughters, Lucy (9), Kate (7) and Dorothy (4), were in the house on the night of the census but not their eldest daughter, Mary. Also living with the family was Jane's father, Joe Bosworth (77). By the time of the next census in 1911 the family had moved to 26 Caroline Street, Nottingham. Neither John nor Ada were in the household on the night of the census but with William and Jane were their unmarried daughters, Lucy, Kate and Dorothy, and their married daughter, Mary Deavin (Deevan), and her 10 month old son, Eric William. The family later lived at 20 Lewis Street, Alfred Street, St Ann's, Nottingham, although at the time of John's death they were living at 28 Carlton Street, Nottingham. John was married to Mabel Agnes Webster (later Bosworth). There is a record of a marriage between a John William Webster and a Mabel A Simons registered in July/Aug/Sept 1914 and at the time of John's death they were living at 18 Watt Street, Nottingham. Mabel later moved to 11 Thurman Street, Alfreton Road, Nottingham (CWGC).
At the time he enlisted in the army in 1903 he was working as a moulder. He was a foundry hand in 1911.
20 Sep 1914
29
724552 - CWGC Website
8972
Sergeant
2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
'C' Coy. He enlisted in the army on 23 November 1903 but it is not known whether this was in the Territorial Force or regular army. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial. ‘The 2nd Foresters had served in India 1882-1898,’ writes John Cotterill, ‘returning home in 1902 via garrison duty in Aden and Malta. They led a peripatetic life in the UK serving on the Isle of Wight, in Aldershot, in various small garrisons in Ireland, in Plymouth and railway strike breaking in Derby in 1911 before arriving at Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield in 1912. Here they mobilised 4/8/14 as part of 18 Brigade in 6 Division. As with most home based units they were under strength in peacetime so were composed of 40% reservists on mobilisation. Initially only four divisions were sent over the channel with 4th and 6th Divisions held back on coastal defence duties. As the threat of an early German invasion receded these two remaining divisions were deployed with 2nd Foresters, 930 men strong, arrived in St Nazaire on 11 Sept 1914. By this time the retreat from Mons was over and, indeed, on 12 Sept 1914 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) began its advance from the River Marne to battle on the River Aisne.’ 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (71st Bde, 6th Division) mobilised 4/8/1914 and disembarked at St Nazaire on September 11th. Hough was killed during the battalion’s first Great War action in the Aisne valley which the BEF needed to cross before attempting to take the strategically commanding Chemin des Dames high ground. On September 20th, they were in reserve north of Troyon. As other British units fell back, according to John Cotterill, ‘a request for help reached the 2nd Foresters... at 1400.’ first by A and C Coys led by Captains Parkinson and Popham, reinforced by ‘B’ and ‘D’’ Coys with most of the Westphalians fleeing before the Foresters’ bayonets.’ The unit war diary (TNA WO95/1616/3/1) records the dramatic action: ‘the enemy were seen to have taken trenches on the right of the British line on the ridge at the head of the Troyon Valley – the most vital point in the line of defence. The battalion moved out to re-take the trenches. A German column was seen to be marching off prisoners...The advance was met by a very heavy machine gun fire from the front and left flank which caused many casualties, the ground being devoid of cover and very cramped... a general advance was made with great dash and in spite of heavy losses the trenches were re-taken. The battalion then prepared to hold the trenches... This was a most important action as the safety of the British right and the bridge over the R. Aisne at Bourg depended on the maintenance of the trenches. All ranks behaved splendidly.’ The war diary estimated 180 2nd Bn casualties in the action of 20th September 1914. 49 men from the unit, including 25 commemorated on this website, were killed that day (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). 38 of these dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing and the remaining 11 are divided between cemeteries at Chauny, Sissone and Vendresse. Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill
Nottingham Post notice (abridged), 12 October 1914: 'Webster. Killed in action September 20th, Sergeant JW Webster 2nd Sherwood Foresters. Husband of Mabel Webster, 18 Watt Street, only son of William and Jane Webster, 28 Carlton Street.' His widow, Mabel Agnes, was his sole legatee.
Remembered on

Photos

  • John Willaim Webster
    Courtesy of Lynne Weston - John Willaim Webster
  • Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France (3743 casualties).
    Photo David Nunn - Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France (3743 casualties).