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Rifleman John Darby Webster

572392 17th Battalion London Regiment

Rifleman Webster
Son of Mr Fred & Mrs Esther Webster
Husband of Mildred (later Whiting)

Aged 26 years

Died 23rd March 1917

Commemorated at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground
Grave VII. J.24
And in Rushden Cemetery
Grave C.170/171

Kerbstone on grave C170
Born at Cold Higham, enlisted at Bow, resided at Rushden.
The Rushden Echo Friday 30 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Musician Killed - Temperance Band Player Dies in His Comrades Arms

His grave
The one-time famous Rushden Temperance Band has lost one of its most valued members in the death in action of Rifleman John D Webster, London Regiment, which was unofficially reported on Wednesday. The young bandsman, aged 25, was a son of Mr and Mrs Fred Webster, of 86, Washbrook-road, Rushden, and the sad news is sent by Bandsman Odell, who says that at about 8.30 last Friday a shell burst just against Rifleman Webster and he turned to Odell saying "I'm hit" and died in his arms.
Rifleman Webster enlisted in -- County of London Regt, in 1915, with a company of other players in the Temperance Band. Last year he and all those who were fit were detailed for foreign service as stretcher bearers.

The deceased soldier was well-known in Rushden, and was formerly employed at Mr C W Horrell's shoe factory. He passed through the Sunday school of the Rushden Congregational church. At Christmastide, 1915, shortly after he joined up, he was married in London and his wife came to reside with his parents.

Mrs John D Webster and Mr and Mrs Fred Webster desire to return their grateful thanks to the many kind friends for their expressions of sympathy with them in their great bereavement.

The Wellingborough News Friday 30 March 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Bandsman Gives His Life

Much regret was expressed when, on Wednesday, it became known that Bandsman John D Webster (London Regiment), the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Fredk Webster, of 86, Washbrook-road, Rushden, had been killed whilst serving his country on the Western Front. The news was sent by Bandsman Odell, a comrade, who said that last Friday Bandsman Webster, who was on duty as a stretcher-bearer, was struck by an exploding shell, and died almost instantaneously in his friend's arms. Bandsman Webster was well known in local musical circles, as he was a member of the Rushden Temperance Band, playing the double bass instrument. He also acted on the committee of the band. His army career began in the autumn of 1915, when, together with several musical friends, he joined the fine band of the 20th County of London Regiment at London. Just before Christmas, 1915, he married in London Miss Bigley of Rushden. Together with several other instrumentalists, he went to the front during 1916, where his duties were those of a stretcher-bearer. He was 25 years of age. Before enlisting he worked for Mr C. W. Howell, boot manufacturer. Deep sympathy will be expressed towards his parents and wife, and also his brother Bandsman "Eddie" Webster, who is stationed at Winchester.

The Rushden Echo Friday 6 April 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Memorial Service - After evening service at the Congregational Church on Sunday, a short but unimpressive ceremony was held to respect the memory of Rifleman John Webster, a Sunday school and church worker, whose death in action we reported in our last issue. The Rev E F Walker paid a touching tribute to the Sterling character of the deceased soldier, and Rifleman Webster's favourite hymn "Lead, kindly light" was sung. The organist Mr W L Sargent, played the "Dead march in Saul", the congregation standing.

The Rushden Echo Friday 12 October 1917, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Musician Killed - Bandsman Arthur Odell - Formerly of the Temperance Band - Tribute by Mr Charles Ashby

We deeply regret to report that Mr and Mrs John Odell, of 54 Queen-street, Rushden, have received official news that their only son, Bandsman Arthur ("Jack") Odell, of the - London Regt., was killed in action on September 13th.

The first intimation Mr and Mrs Odell received of their son's death was a letter from Bandsman E Webster, of Rushden, who wrote:-

"Dear Mr and Mrs Odell - Please accept my deepest sympathy and may God help you to bear your burden. Your dear son was laid to rest at Y Wood tunnels, near Ypres. I put this little text above his grave 'Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for those he holds dear'. I must close, tendering the deepest sympathy of his section chums."

The late Bandsman Odell, who was 28 years of age, leaves a widow and three little children under five years of age. He had been a member of the Rushden Temperance Band from boyhood, commencing with the cornet. Late, he played the E flat bass. Mr Chas. Ashby, for many years secretary of the band, and who now resides at Blackpool, writes, "I have no hesitation in saying that he was one of the best of bandsmen, always ready to do his bit, and when I came away from Rushden he had the ability of making one of the finest bass players the Temps have ever had."

Bandsman Odell joined up about two years ago with the late Bandsman John Webster, of Rushden, who was killed about seven months ago, dying in Bandsman Odell's arms. These soldiers were staunch pals, always together in the Temps, and on their military duties after joining the Forces. The deceased soldier had been in France about 14 months, when he met his death from a shell. It is a mercy that he was killed instantaneously, so that he suffered no pain.

As a lad he passed through the Sunday school of the Independent Wesleyan Church, Rushden, and was a member of the Rushden (Myrtle) Lodge of Free Gardeners from boyhood. Prior to enlistment, he was employed by Messrs. Morris & Sons, stonemasons Rushden. Much sympathy is felt throughout the town and amongst the remaining members of the Temps, with the widow and bereaved parents.

The Rushden Echo Friday 22 March 1918, transcribed by Nicky Bates

In Memoriam

WEBSTER - In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Bandsman John Darby Webster, 1/17 London Regt, killed March 23rd, 1917, age 25 years, the beloved son of Frederick and Esther Webster, 86, Washbrook-road, Rushden.

If we could only have raised his dying head
And heard his last farewell,
It would have not been so hard to part
With one we loved so well.

The path of Duty was the way of Glory. From his sorrowing Father and Mother and Brother.

BANDSMAN John Darby Webster (photograph) 1/17 London Regiment. Inmemoriam. March 23rd 1917-1918.

He died the noblest death a man may die,
For God and Love and Liberty,
And death for those is immortality.

From Millie.

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