David Webb (DCM), Private 6458, 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 18th November 1914 in Belgium, aged 33
David Webb was born on 8 October 1881 in Knutsford workhouse, the son of Sophia Webb, a domestic servant of Mobberley. In 1891, at the age of 11, he was living with his aunt, Sophia Bowers, in Chapel Lane, Wilmslow.
By 1901 David was in the barracks at the Cheshire Regiment Depot at Chester.
David married Lily Dewison in January 1911 at Christ Church, Macclesfield, and the couple lived at 32 Shaw Street. David worked as a labourer in the railway goods yard, his wife was a silk doubler at Park Green and his sister-in-law Sarah Dewison was living with them and working as a silk winder. David stated that he was only 26 years of age on the 1911 census, perhaps to bring his age closer to that of his young wife, who was only 20.
The couple’s son, also named David, was born in February 1913.
David’s service papers have not survived but having served as a regular soldier he would have had a reserve liability and would have been recalled on the outbreak of war. The 1st Battalion deployed from Londonderry to France in August 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. According to his medal index card, David arrived in France on 12th September, so would have arrived from the Cheshire Regiment Depot soon after. The Battalion was decimated by German attacks in the retreat from Mons and the Regimental war history records that by the end of October “the Battalion practically ceased to exist”. The Battalion, with additional men arriving from England to replace the casualties, moved soon after to reinforce defences around Ypres against the Germans.
Here, David’s courage in action clearly impressed his commanding officer for he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, which was approved on 1st April 1915. The citation reads:
“For gallant conduct and resource on many occasions whilst scouting in obtaining valuable information near Ypres. He reconnoitred the German positions, located a hostile gun and killed a sniper who had been doing much damage”.
On 14th November, a cold, mist-sodden morning, German troops attacked on a nine mile front following an intense artillery barrage. The Battalion lost 32 officers and men killed, wounded or missing that day. The war diary records that on 18th November the Battalion was sheltering in trenches, in the rain, and receiving heavy shelling from the Germans. It is therefore possible that David was killed by enemy shellfire.
Private Webb’s death was officially reported on 9 December 1914.
Private David Webb has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private David Webb, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.