Tag Archives: Tyne and Wear

CWG: Private Howard Richards

Private Howard Richards

Howard Charles Richards was born in the summer of 1900, the youngest of seven children to George and Henrietta Richards. George was a sewing machine salesman from Combe St Nicholas in Somerset, and this was where the family were raised.

Howard was too young to join up when war was declared, but it seems to have been important to him. He enlisted in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment soon after his eighteenth birthday and was sent for training.

Tragically, Private Richards’ time in the army was to be a short one. The next record for him confirms that he was admitted to the 1st Northern General Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and that he passed away on 19th October 1918. The cause of his passing is not recorded, but he was just 18 years of age.

Howard Charles Richards’ body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in his home town.


CWG: Gunner Frederick Webber

Gunner Frederick Webber

Frederick James Webber was born on 6th July 1889, and was one of nine children to Charles and Mary Webber. Charles was a machinist and wheel turner from Wolborough, near Newton Abbot in Devon, and it was in the village that Frederick and his siblings were born and raised.

The year 1902 was to prove tragic for the Webber family as Mary and two of Frederick’s siblings – Charles, who was 16, and Olive, who was 11 – all died. While there is nothing to confirm causes of death, or whether the three were related, there was a smallpox outbreak in Devon at the time, so it seems likely that the family were drawn into the tragedy.

Charles remarried three years later, to local widow Mary Harper; the couple would go on to have two children of their own. Frederick, by this point, seemed keen to make his own way in the world, and found work on the railways. The 1911 census records him as lodging with the Batten family in Penzance, Cornwall, where he was earning a living as a carriage cleaner.

On 4th September 1915, Frederick married Hannah Mary Annear (née Williams). She was nine years older than him, and was a widow with three children. The couple set up home in Redruth, Cornwall, and may have married as, with war raging across Europe, Frederick was on the verge of being called up.

Full details of Frederick’s military service are not available, but it is clear that he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery at some point in early 1916. Assigned to his adopted home county of Cornwall, he nevertheless needed training, and, for this, he was sent to the B Battery of the 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade in the North East.

It was while here, that Gunner Webber contracted endocarditis. He was admitted to the Jeffery Hall Hospital in Sunderland, but the condition got the better of him, and he passed away on 2nd October 1916, aged just 26 years old.

Frederick James Webber was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, where his father and family still lived.