The Fallen of Ewhurst and Ellen's Green, Surrey  
Home Site Map

  Evelyn Maxwell Webb 


(Reproduced with kind permission of Mrs Anne Robinson, granddaughter to
Mr Frank Bryan, the Webb's butler.)
 

Captain

A Company, 2nd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps
Killed in Action 23/07/1916, aged 19, near Pozieres in the Battle of the Somme.

No Known Grave, but Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, the Somme, France
Eton School War Memorial, Memorial to the King's Royal Rifle Corps and  List of Fallen
Wixenford School, Wokingham (now Ludgrove School) Memorial to the Fallen

 

 

EVELYN MAXWELL WEBB was born in London in December 1896 (1), the only son of Walter (2), a solicitor, and Annie Georgina (3) and younger brother to Muriel Webb (4). They lived at Malquoits (5) in Ewhurst (now Cornhill Manor Link to map, see orange arrow) and 2, Rutland Gate, London (just to the east of the Albert Memorial, and south of Hyde Park). Walter had moved to Ewhurst as a bachelor between 1873 and 1881, his brother Wallace, also a solicitor, living at High Edser. He became very involved in Ewhurst village life and was a member of the first Parish Council in 1894.

            
Evelyn and Muriel Webb (Evelyn's elder sister)
(Reproduced with kind permission of Mrs Anne Robinson, granddaughter to
Mr Frank Bryan, the Webb's butler.)

 

       
Malquoits, Ewhurst, now Cornhill Manor


 Evelyn (middle row, 4th from left) and his house cricket team
(Reproduced with kind permission of Eton College Photographic Archive)

Evelyn was schooled at Wixenford School, Wokingham (now Ludgrove School) and then Eton from the summer of 1910 until the summer of 1914, where he won his house colours for the Field Game, an Eton form of football, played for his house team at cricket and was elected to the house Debating Society (6). On leaving Eton Evelyn attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, obtaining a commission to the 60th Rifles (the King's Royal Rifle Corps) on 11th November 1914 (7).


Evelyn and Muriel Webb (Evelyn's elder sister) at Malquoits, possibly with their
father, Walter Webb.
(Reproduced with kind permission of Mrs Anne Robinson, granddaughter to
Mr Frank Bryan, the Webb's butler.)

FRANCE, AND THE SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES

On 26th January 1915 Evelyn joined the 3rd Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) in France, who were a part of the 80th Brigade of the 27th Division, and faced action with them at St Eloi in Belgium on 14-15th March 1915

On 22nd April 1915 the German forces around Ypres launched an attack on the salient  with the first use of poison gas. This action became the Second Battle of Ypres. The 3rd Bn KRRC participated in the battle and were rested in bivouacs from the 17th May until the 23rd. On the 24th, orders were received to move back up towards the trenches in order to participate on a counter attack on trenches which had been lost between Railway Wood, Bellewarde Farm and lake, and in the vicinity of Hooge. The attack was held up by heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the front and both flanks, the battalion having failed to establish contact with forces advancing to either side. At 2.30am on the 25th, the battalion was forced to retire to a defensive position and dug into a line from the north-west point of Zouave Wood to the Menin Road. Casualties amounted to 82 killed, wounded and missing, including Lieutenant Evelyn Webb.

Evelyn had been severely wounded in action in the area of Bellewarde Ridge, to the east of YpresA bullet struck Evelyn's left arm, which entered to the rear of his elbow, exited his front forearm before continuing to cause two wounds to the left side of his chest. He was evacuated to England on HMHS Valdivia (8) the following day and arrived in Southampton on the 27th May 1915. From Southampton Evelyn was moved to London and admitted to the Lady Evelyn Mason's Hospital at 16 Brunton Street (just east of Berkeley Square) on 7th June 1915, where he remained here for ten days before being discharged on leave.

Over the next few months Evelyn underwent three medical boards which found him unfit for service before being declared "fit for light Home Duties" on 5th November 1915 at Caxton Hall in Westminster. He was posted to the 6th (Reserve) Bn KRRC who at that time were based at The Tile Works at Queensborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

RETURN TO FRANCE, AND THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME

In April 1916 Evelyn returned to France with the 2nd Bn KRRC, who were part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. The battalion were in the line in the area of the previous year's Battle of Loos, and took part in an attack on an area known as "the Triangle" on 29th June 1916 in which it suffered heavy casualties (5 officers and 36 men killed, 6 officers and 167 men wounded, and 24 men missing). The battalion then left the line on 1st July 1916 and proceeded south towards the Somme battlefield where the massive Somme offensive had just opened.

After being gassed in bivouacs in the area of Bécourt Wood on the 14th, which caused 47 casualties of whom 15 died, the battalion finally went into the front line on 18th July. On 22nd orders were received to the effect that the battalion would attack a newly dug German "switch" line to the north-east of Pozieres the following day at 12.30am.


Captain Webb's advance on Switch Line, 23rd July 1916

On the morning of 23rd, Evelyn, commanding A Company, and the commanding officers of the battalion's other three companies accompanied Lieutenant-Colonel Bircham to reconnoitre the positions, and in the evening the men marched up to be in position for the attack at 8.45pm. The Royal Sussex Regiment attacked to the left of the 2nd Bn KRRC, and the 10th Bn Gloucester Regiment to the right. The attack was preluded by an intense artillery barrage lasting seven minutes following which, by the light of Very flares, the Germans spotted the deployed men and immediately opened fire with machine guns from the left flank.  The battalion was partially successful in penetrating the German line, however the attacks to their left and right failed completely. The Germans counter-attacked the battalion from both flanks with hand grenades and eventually forced the battalion to withdraw. Their losses had been severe, Lieutenant-Colonel Bircham (9) had been seriously wounded and died later, Captain Webb and four other officers were missing, and two other officers were wounded. Since arriving at the Somme, the battalion had suffered 576 casualties (not including officers). The battalion was withdrawn from the line the following day.


Initial advance into action of the 2nd Bn KRRC on the evening of 23rd July 1916. Pictured from the road west of Mametz Wood. The German Switch Line is behind the ridge on the left of shot. Captain Webb passed saps at this area at 1 am.


Final advance into action of the 2nd Bn KRRC on the evening of 23rd July 1916. Pictured from the road between Bazantin-le-Petit and Martinpuch.The German Switch Line ran across the fields to the right of photo. The 2nd Bn KRRC were advancing out of the valley that lies to the west of Mametz Wood.

Captain Evelyn Webb's actions on the evening of the 23rd were reported by several sources as follows:

"He took a party of 6 gunners to bomb a machine gun in an attack on the German Switch Line near High Wood at night. None of the party ever returned. A Sgt Webster of Mr Webb's platoon (III) followed them up pretty closely and said he saw them all drop, so Sgt Webster returned. He is still up the line. We retired from our position the same night"

 H. E. Collins 11340 2nd KRRC

"Captain Webb, just promoted 3 or 4 days before, advanced between the saps on the left of Mametz Wood at about 1am, our barrage fire left off at 1230. I was just behind him. He was hit by a maxim gun from the German trench parapet. He had a revolver in his hand, and turned around and called us on, and then was killed, and all of us except two. We got back into a shell hole and saw Captain Webb lying there a couple of hours, and didn't move. We two crept back and joined an officer and six men of the Northampton's, and reported he was killed. We were told it was too dangerous to go and fetch him. We did not get that ground back. A very good officer, quite young."

Cpl Barber 1236 A3, No 3 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne, 30/8/16

 

In Ewhurst, Evelyn's father Walter received confirmation from the War Office on the 6th May 1917 that Evelyn had been reported missing on the 23rd July 1916. On the 11th May Walter wrote to the War Office requesting confirmation of Evelyn's death so that he could settle his son's affairs. On 27th May confirmation was granted that Evelyn was Killed in Action.

Evelyn's body was never identified, and he is therefore remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, along with approximately 73,000 other men who were lost in the Somme area and are denied an identified grave.


Memorial in Eton School to the Memory of the 75 Old Etonians of the KRRC who gave their Lives
for King and Empire in the Great War. Evelyn Maxwell Webb is commemorated in the middle column.

(Reproduced with kind permission of Eton College Photographic Archive)


Evelyn Maxwell Webb is also commemorated on the Eton School War Memorial,
which includes all of the Old Etonians who gave their lives.

(Reproduced with kind permission of Eton College Photographic Archive)
 

Evelyn was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Probate was granted on Evelyn's estate on 05 July 1917, noting his address as 2 Ruteland Gate, Knightsbridge, and awarding the sum of £110 11s 6d to his father Walter.

Walter Webb had lived in Ewhurst for many years. He had been the Chairman of the Parish Council for thirty years and with the end of the war became the Chairman of the Ewhurst War Memorial Committee. He finally left Ewhurst to take up residence in Hove in July 1920, but returned to the village on the 7th November 1920 to unveil the village War Memorial, to the construction of which he had donated a sum of twenty guineas.


Captain Webb, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Somme, France


 

 

Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals
 

 

Notes:
(1) Estimated from  1901 Census & Births Register
(2) Walter Webb, born Sheerness, Kent, 1843, died 29/03/1938, buried in the Ewhurst graveyard
(3) Annie Georgina Webb, born Russia 1858 (British Subject), died 15/01/38, buried in the Ewhurst graveyard
(4) Muriel Webb, born London 1892, died 5/5/49, buried in the Ewhurst graveyard
(5) 1901 Census & Eton School Archives. In the 1930's Malquoits was owned by Mr Morton, whose son Alexander Donald, a pilot in Bomber Command, was lost on a raid over Germany in 1939. He is remembered on a plaque in Ewhurst Church (CWGC link).
(6) Eton School Archives
(7)The King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle 1916 p378
(8) His Majesty's Hospital Ship Valdivia
(9) Lt-Col Humphrey Francis William Bircham, lies in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension (CWGC link)

 

Other sources:

  • Book of Remembrance

  • Surrey Advertiser

  • E Webb Service Record (PRO WO339/21353 long number 40686)

  • 2nd and 3rd Bn KRRC War Diaries

  • KRRC Chronicle

  • Cornhill Manor Archives

  • Photos of E M Webb reproduced with kind permission of Eton College Photographic Archive
     

AEB 27/07/05

   

Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey
andy@ewhurstfallen.co.uk
Copyright©2005