MP supports the call for Haverhill soldier’s grave to have a headstone

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Haverhill MP Matthew Hancock has added his support to a campaign to have a proper headstone placed on the grave of a Haverhill soldier whose resting place has been unmarked for 97 years.

As reported in last week’s Echo, Private Stephen Webb has been buried in an unmarked plot in Haverhill Cemetery since November 1, 1916.

His tragic story was discovered thanks to the work carried of Charmian Thompson, a member of the Haverhill Family History Group, which is researching the background of all 144 men named on the town’s WWI memorial in order to compile a Roll of Honour.

Having seen the story, Mr Hancock decided to write to the director of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Alan Patemen-Jones.

Mr Hancock said: “As we mark the century since the start of the First World War this year it is another reminder of the scale of that terrible conflict that here in Haverhill we are still finding the final resting places of men on the Roll of Honour.

“Stephen Webb enlisted in 1915 in the Royal Hampshire Regiment, died in 1916 and was buried, unmarked, in Haverhill Cemetery.

“Thanks to Charmian Thomas’ brilliant work we have found Stephen’s grave.

“Stephen fought for his country and I think we owe him a permanent headstone in recognition of his service, which is why I have written to the War Graves Commission.”

During the research into Pvt Webb’s story, Charmian discovered that he was born in Haverhill in 1875, the youngest of eight children and lived with his family at 5 Chauntry Road.

Having trained as a clothier he moved to Fareham in Hampshire to take up a job as a clothing shop manager, after which he enlisted in the Army.

His service records showed that he caught influenza and was discharged from the Army before dying three weeks later.

Following the discovery of the grave the Haverhill Family History Group, supported by the Haverhill Royal British Legion, contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to request Pvt Webb’s grave has a permanent headstone.

In the meantime the quest to complete the Roll of Honour for all 144 men on the WWI memorial continues.

Now that Pvt Webb’s tale has been revealed E Nunn is the only person on the memorial whose story remains a complete mystery.

If you can help with information on E Nunn and any of the others named on Haverhill’s WWI and WWII memorials please contact either Alan on 01440 704157 or Joan Key on 01440 703216.