Corporal, 20th Hussars (Nobody’s Own)
Military Service Number 10282
Born July 1895 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Killed in Action 1 April 1918 at Rifle Wood near Amiens
Commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial 6km NE of Albert, on the Somme.
Arthur Webb was born in Scarborough in the third quarter of 1895. He was the ninth child of the six sons and five daughters born to William Poskitt Webb, a Coachman, and Emma Bedford, the eldest child of a West Yorkshire coal miner.
In the 1901 Census Arthur was 5 years old and lived in Scalby, probably on Church Becks, with his parents, 2 brothers and 4 sisters. Older brother William was a Grocer’s Assistant, possibly for Messrs. Wallis and Blakeley in the High Street, now the Yew Tree Café. In the census the Webb family are next but one to the schoolmaster, John Tickle, who lived in the school house with his wife and five children, including Norah who taught in the ‘Elementary School’.
Arthur and his siblings would have attended Scalby village school and no doubt worshipped at St Laurence’s Church, where Revd. William Cautley Robinson was Vicar from 1876 – 1915.
In the 1911 Census Arthur, aged 15, is described as a Motor Worker (domestic) living at Glebe Cottage, Scalby with his family. His older brother Randall is a Nursery Gardener. Their father was still a Coachman, and we know that in 1914 his employer was Mr William H L Wordsworth, a prominent member of the local gentry whose brother J. Lionel was killed on the Western Front in 1914.
Arthur enlisted in Scarborough and joined the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line 20th before the war. He was one of the first professional soldiers to land in France, with the 20th Hussars. His medal roll index card tells us that this was on 17 August 1914, just 13 days after war was declared.
In October 1917, whilst on leave, the 22 year old Arthur married 26 year old Hannah (Annie) Louisa Carter, daughter of Scarborough Police Constable John William Carter.
The Scarborough Mercury of Friday 19th April 1918 reports “The sad tidings were received on Monday that Lance-Corporal Arthur Webb was killed in action on April 1st. Twenty-two years of age, he was a Scalby lad, his widowed mother still living there, and his late father was coachman to Mr Wordsworth. Lance Corporal Webb was already in the army when war broke out and he had been through all the turmoil of the fighting since the outbreak of hostilities without sustaining a scratch. He was married last October, when home on leave, his wife being the daughter of ex Inspector Carter, a pensioner of the Scarborough Police Force who has settled down at Scalby since his retirement.” On another page the Mercury reports, “News reached his wife on Monday of the death in action of Arthur Webb, 29 Wykeham Street, and whose mother resides at Throxenby Lane. He was only married about seven months ago, and has not had any leave since then. Mrs Webb is engaged under the tramway company.”
Arthur died at Rifle Wood, near Amiens on 1st April 1918 when a British counter-attack stopped the Germans from capturing the city, which would have been a disaster for the Allies. Rifle Wood was fought by the remnants of three regiments of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, who had earlier fought at the Battle of Moreuil Wood, along with three regiments of British Cavalry, including the 20th Hussars. On the morning of 1st April they were ordered to carry out a dismounted attack, during which Arthur Webb was killed.
Arthur is remembered with honour on the Poziers Memorial, which relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. It commemorates over 14,000 casualties who, like Arthur, have no known grave.
Arthur’s sister Ruth, who died in 1967, is buried at St Laurence’s Church, with her husband George Cockerill.
For more information about the Battle of Rifle Wood see http://laughton.ca/documents/ww1/pub3.pdf