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Haverhill soldier has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone dedicated 102 years after he was buried during the First World War




After a wait of more than a century a headstone has finally been placed on the grave of a soldier from Haverhill who died during the First World War.

Private Stephen Webb had laid in an unmarked grave in Haverhill Cemetery since November 1, 1916.

But exactly 102 years to the day since he was interred, a ceremony took place at his graveside to formerly dedicate the headstone that had been placed there.

Pte Webb's grave was only discovered by Charmian Thompson, secretary of the Haverhill Family History Group, during the course of researching the details of all 144 men named on the town's war memorial for their inclusion on a Roll of Honour.

Once Pte Webb's grave had been found, an application was made to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) for a headstone, supported by facts supplied by the Royal Hampshire Regiment Trust, which had assisted the family history group's research. .

That was made in February 2014 - and more than four-and-a-half years later the headstone was finally put into place.

Richard Webb, left, and Colin Webb unveil the headstone on their ancestor Stephen Webb's grave in Haverhill Cemetery (5167761)
Richard Webb, left, and Colin Webb unveil the headstone on their ancestor Stephen Webb's grave in Haverhill Cemetery (5167761)

The dedication service was attended by Pte Webb's great nephew, Colin Webb and his wife Iris, who had travelled from Ipswich for the service, and Richard Webb, Pte Webb's great great nephew.

Richard, who lives in Haverhill. was quick to thank everyone, and particularly Haverhill Family History Group members Charmian and her husband Brian, for their help in bringing about the recognition for his late ancestor.

He said: "Charmian, Brian and all the other people from the family history group that have done the research; we would like to thank them on behalf of the family, because without their research this wouldn't have happened."

Richard also added that until the family history group started its WWI research, nobody in his family had any knowledge of Pte Webb and his blood links to them.

Speaking at the dedication service was Bryan Mills, the chairman of the Haverhill and Thurlow Royal British Legion (RBL), which has also played a significant role in getting the headstone erected, The Mayor of Haverhill, Cllr Tony Brown, Mrs Thompson and Rev Cannon Ian Finn, the rector of St Mary's Church, who gave a short service.

The Last Post was played by Rod Gibson and a two minutes silence observed, as the full poignancy of the occasion was brought home.

Stephen Webb was born in Haverhill in 1875 and had one brother and six sisters, one of whom, Kate, is also buried in the same grave.

By 1911 he had moved to Newbury and was working as a draper's shop assistant.

He enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment in November 1915 but became ill in January 1916 and returned to duty after nine weeks in a convalescent home.

Sadly, his illness returned and he was formerly discharged from the Army on medical grounds on October 5, 1916, whereupon he returned home to Haverhill.

He died in Haverhill on October 27, 1916, and for pretty much 102 years remained unnoticed and forgotten in an unmarked grave - until now.

Richard Webb, left, and Colin Webb unveil the headstone on their ancestor Stephen Webb's grave in Haverhill Cemetery (5167761)
Richard Webb, left, and Colin Webb unveil the headstone on their ancestor Stephen Webb's grave in Haverhill Cemetery (5167761)


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