Over the next few days 100 years ago in July 1916, news would have arrived at the Devoran Post Office in the form of a letter or telegram addressed to aMrs. Maud Webb.
Maud(e) was working or staying with her children at the Crown and Anchor Pub (now a private rather than a public house) on Quay Road in Devoran, down near the disused old railway sheds workshops, which are now the Village Hall.
Devoran Village Postman William Pascoe would be familiar with such telegrams, as he had received one about his own son William Donald Pascoe who died at Cosham on army training in 1915.
Maud Webb (nee Penhaligon) would have to break the dreaded news of their father’s death to his six children, some of whom were under a year old at the time. Her oldest daughter Dorothy Maud was of school leaving age around 14, the other older children would have attended Devoran Council / Board School in its old School buildings on the Market Street crossroads.
In time Maud would have to battle to receive Frederick’s war pension for her family, requiring local Devoran Policeman PC9 Albert Killow to clarify the number and similar names of Webb’s six children, all born in Truro. The family later moved to Penryn in the 1920s.
Frederick (Gordon) Webb, Sapper, 155779, 179 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers was killed on 18 July 1916, aged 41.
According to Simon Jones’ excellent website, Webb was a tunneler’s Mate and was “killed by enemy shrapnel whilst returning to billet after relief. Davey wounded.” You can read nore about Webb at:
‘F.G. Webb, Sapper RE’ appears on the first 1914 draft of the Village Roll of Honour, recently discovered behind the finished copy.
F.G. Webb’s name would in time appear on the granite Devoran War Memorial sometime around 1919/20 in the churchyard opposite the school which his children attended. His name would be on the final Roll of Honour in the Village Hall, yards away from the Webb lived on Quay Road. The recreation ground would be dedicated in memory to the serving men of the village in 1919, behind the Devoran Council School whilst Webb’s family may have still lived there.
Webb is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension on the Somme, grave reference I.K.38, beautifully maintained by the stonemasons and gardeners of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/61300/ALBERT%20COMMUNAL%20CEMETERY%20EXTENSION
A few days after being part of the “Names on The Roll” WW1 talk at Devoran Village Hall and talking about Devoran’s Somme Casulaty F.G. Webb amongst others, I was a guest at a talk on 6th July 2016 at Kew Gardens given by David Richardson, the CWGC Director of Horticulture who mentioned and showed pictures of Albert Communal Cemetery. http://www.hortweek.com/interview-david-richardson-director-horticulture-commonwealth-war-graves-commission/article/1135983
Albert was one of the cemeteries where the cemetery is still planted up and screened off from the busy road by trees as suggested during a visit 100 years ago by the Director of Kew Gardens Arthur Hill, one of the Kew Gardens staff working as a Horticultural Advisor to the CWGC http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/plants-and-conflict-landscapes-%E2%80%93-somme-and-beyond
David and his colleagues also coincidentally showed a picture of Maala Cemetery where Devoran casualty James Johnson is buried, now in war-torn Yemen. David reassured me with the news to pass on to the wider Devoran Village today that despite the unrest this cemetery is well maintained and that local CWGC staff would return when safe to check on the cemetery and Johnson’s graves amongst others, as they are maintained “in perpetuity”. https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/james-johnson-of-devoran-ww1-casualty-update/
Remembering Frederick Webb and the grieving families of Devoran, 100 years on.
Posted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, 18/19 July 2016