Monday 7 March 2016

DCM by Post

Tuesday 7th March 1916: A supplement to the London Gazette for 14th January briefly announced that His Majesty had approved the awarding of a Distinguished Conduct Medal to Private Arthur Webb of 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in recognition of services on the Western Front. Nothing further was heard in the Biggleswade district until last week, when Private Webb’s wife, who resides at Ickwell-road, Upper Caldecote, received the following letter from the 9th District Infantry Record Office, Warley. It was dated 1st March and was as follows – “Madam – In accordance with the request of 8411 Private A Webb, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, I am forwarding you herewith his Distinguished Conduct Medal – Yours faithfully G Fitzgerald, Captain, for Officer Commanding Records, 9th District”. Private Webb is well-known in the Biggleswade district and is the son of Mr and Mrs Webb of Common Gate Cottage and his many friends are pleased to know that his services in the field have been recognised. He was in the Reserve when war was declared and was formerly employed by Messrs Wells and Winch Limited at the brewery(1). He went to France with the first Expeditionary Force and fought at Mons and in practically all the big engagements. He went through all of these unharmed and when he came home on a week’s leave with a comrade, Private C Butcher, who also went to France in August 1914, both men looked in perfect trim. The Biggleswade DCM has a brother on active service, Lance Corporal Webb of the Norfolk Regiment. The latter went from India to the Persian Gulf Expeditionary Force and was wounded some time ago. He had a very narrow escape then of being killed, for a bullet pierced the front of his tunic and but for a book which he had in his pocket, he must have been killed. Lance Corporal Webb has had his tunic, book and the bullet photographed, and only last week he sent home a copy from India where he has been recuperating after his injury.

The act that won Private Webb the DCM was for his conveyance of rations to the trenches. We are informed that owing to the fierce bombardment by the enemy of the British trenches and the district round it was almost impossible for two days to get through with food transport. On the day in question the officer thought it impossible to get through, but Webb undertook the task and set off with his van across the shell swept zone. It was a most perilous journey but Webb accomplished it safely and reached the given point with the food supply for his comrades of the “Brave Bedfords”. It was, however, a journey fraught with grave danger and some idea of it may be gathered when we state that one of Webb’s horses was hit by shrapnel bullets eighteen times. For the accomplishment of this task he won the coveted honour and we heartily congratulate him in gaining this well merited reward.

Source: Bedfordshire Standard 17th March 1916

(1) The brewery was in Biggleswade and the firm was taken over by Suffolk brewers Greene King in 1961.

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