Webber, Ernest Osar
Bandsman Private 4614
2nd Cheshire Regiment
Ernest Oscar Webber was born on the 17th of June 1880 and baptized on July 4th at St Luke Chelsea. He was the youngest of nine boys born to George Webber and Sarah nee Watts.
On the 1881 census the family were living in 11, Manor Buildings. His father was employed as a painter. Ernest was ten months old. There were twenty years difference between the oldest son Richard, and Ernest.
Manor Buildings is described thus by Charles Booth “On south of street front yards, on north side a dirty and rowdy lot.” Inspector Seabright who escorted him stated “ There is not one here who would not open his door to one who wanted to escape from the police.” Charles Booth commented also that it needed to be lit and he would return once the lighting was in place. In other words it was a dangerous place to be.
Ernest’s mother died in 1886 followed by his father the following year. Ernest was admitted to the Britten Street workhouse in December 1887 and was discharged into the care of an older brother. The Poor Law records show that Ernest was admitted to Beechholme on the 2nd of September 1890 and was still in residence when the 1891 census was taken.
Ernest was discharged from the school to the 2nd Cheshire regiment on the 2nd of October 1894. His army service records give his occupation as musician. He was aged 14 years and 3 months, weighed 85 pounds and was 4 feet 10 ½ inches in height. He was of fair complexion with brown eyes and black hair and his one distinguishing feature was a mole by his right nipple.
The 2nd Cheshire battalion sailed on the Brittanic about the 7th of January 1900 arriving in South Africa on the 27th. Along with the 2nd South Wales Borderers, 1st East Lancashire and 2nd North Staffordshire regiments they formed the 15th Brigade under Major General A.G.Wavell. The Cheshires had no serious fighting on the way from Modder River to Bloemfontein.
In the action at Karee Siding on the 29th of March the infantry employed was said to have done well. They had about twenty-two men wounded.
At the Zand River the battalion was sent forward on the evening of the 9th of May to seize and hold a drift which was carried out successfully.
Map of Zand River and surrounding area.
The Brigade crossed early on the 10th, clearing the enemy from strong positions north of the river. After the occupation of Johannesburg the 15th Brigade was detailed to garrison the town, and the Cheshire regiment remained long in the vicinity.
Eight Officers, twelve Non-Commissioned Officers and men were mentioned in Lord Roberts’ final despatch.
On the 5th of December 1900 the battalion relieved the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers as garrison of Friederickstad. In January 1901 part of the battalion was holding a post on the line south of Johannesburg when the enemy attacked fiercely. The attack was gallantly driven off. In 1901 the infantry columns under Sir H. Rawlinson, Colonel E.C.Williams, Colonel Hickie and others did much arduous but most useful work in the south west Transvaal. Three Officers, and one private were mentioned by Lord Kitchener for good work during later phases of the war.
Ernest Webber was awarded the South African medal with Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal clasps. Ernest was discharged from his first period of engagement on the 29th of October 1906.
He married his first cousin Amelia Webber in 1907 at St Jude, World’s End.
On the 1911 census the couple are living at 9, Bullen Street, Battersea and Ernest’s occupation is given as theatre musician .
Ernest re-enlisted in December 1916 to serve in the Great War. His regiment was the 3/24th London . It is unlikely that he served overseas as there is no medal index card for him and his pension records show no medal entitlement.
His army pension records show that he was of very good character. He was discharged from the army for sickness at the end of the war. Sadly his wife Amelia had died on the 12th of November 1918 and her death certificate is found within Ernest’s pension records showing that she died of pneumonia following influenza. She was one of the millions worldwide who died of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 -1919 which killed more people than the great war. It appears that the couple didn’t have any children.
In 1920 Ernest married for the second time to Mary Salthouse at Hammersmith. She was twelve years younger than Ernest. There is no evidence of children from this marriage either. The 1939 register shows Ernest and his wife living at 30, Lille Road Fulham. His occupation is listed as an insurance clerk.
Ernest died on the 3rd of May 1946 at his home at the above address.
His will states that he left £154 to his widow.